15 June, 2009

Still more fun with biopsies

After some teeth pulling, I got my appointment with interventional radiology a week and a half later. This time it was at the hospital rather than the office, and the staff was wonderful. When I checked in I wanted to conform the test and Dr Asshat had ordered another needle aspiration biopsy. I told them that I would not sign a consent for that and we were doing either a punch biopsy or an inscisional biopsy because I wanted to be positive that they got enough tissue! They went back and consulted with the doc who would be doing the procedure and he understood how I felt and sent out a consent for a punch/core biopsy. Finally, someone who will listen to me!

The repeat biopsy was done the way the first one SHOULD have been done. They had me lay down and did an ultrasound of the offending mass, draped me and then numbed the area well with lidocaine. Lidocaine burns when it goes into the tissue, but after that it is beautiful stuff so I didn't mind the few second of burning at all. When they actually took the samples, they used the ultrasound to ensure they were in the tissue--it was pretty neat really because you could see the needle advancing on the ultrasound screen. The needle itself is fairly large and spring loaded so that when they are in the desired area they activate it and it jabs down to cut a quick core, after which it retracts and the sample is placed in a formalin transport solution. I felt the pressure of course, but no real pain, though the click of the needle activating did always make me a jump a little. They took a total of three samples and then had me wait while those were run up to pathology for a quick wet mount to ensure that they had enough tissue for diagnosis. They did thankfully, but had they not they would have just repeated the procedure to get a diagnostic sample. That little step felt good because it meant we would have answers finally.

After the biopsy it did feel like my neck was going to explode when I would cough, but when I was between coughing jags it was just a deep dull aching and muscle soreness. When I coughed though it was pretty funny because I had to use one had to cover my mouth and the other to support my throat with some counter pressure in order to minimize the discomfort. Fortunately, that only lasted two days and then I was just left with a bruise that looked unfortunately like a hickey. I'm not complaining however--they did their job properly and with as little discomfort to me as possible.

A week later the results from the second biopsy were in--blessedly benign. My bloodwork was abnormal though, and it seems that the mass has decided to function autonomously and produce thyroid hormones which is leaving me hyperthyroid rather than the borderline hypothyroid its been all these years.

While I am definitely relieved that its not cancerous (nor is it Hashimoto's thyroiditis) the fact remains that it is causing issues because of its size. I always feel like I have a hand on my throat and do have some difficulty swallowing at times. At least a few times a week I aspirate liquids, usually when I'm really thirsty and not paying attention to swallowing. It is also uncomfortable when I sleep because I can sleep curled up fetal style like I always do--I feel like I can't breathe then so I have to throw the upper arm back and drape my arm over my hip/buttock area in order to open up my airway enough to feel like my breathing is unobstructed. This makes my shoulder unhappy but is certainly preferable to feeling like I can't breathe well! According to Les, I also now snore pretty loudly--something I never used to do unless I had a cold. I got one of those moldable mouthpieces and that does help with the snoring, but I'm thinking that taking out that half of the thyroid is really the best plan for me. It will remove the mechanical obstruction making me for comfortable, take care of the hormone issue, and mean that I don't have to have repeat biopsies every six months. It will also remove the offending tissue so that I can have peace of mind that I don't have a time bomb ticking in my neck just waiting to turn malignant on me. Yes, there are risks and I may end up hypothyroid in the long run, but I feel that the risks outweigh the benefits. On to the next stage!

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