When my thyroid nodule ultrasound came back showing some signs that pointed toward a higher risk of cancer, my ENT specialist recommended a Fine Needle Aspiration biopsy, appropriately abbreviated FNA (say it fast with inflection).
I was nervous. I generally don’t have an issue with needles, but they are usually pretty small and go in my arms. Wait… that sounds like I shoot heroin or something. I don’t. That’s hood rat stuff. I snort it through my nose, ‘cause I’m a LADY. As for needles, I mean your run-of-the-mill flu shot or blood draw. But this biopsy would include several 6-inch+ needles in the neck. Eeeeek!
Lucky for me, my husband Dustin would be able to go with me. You haven’t heard much about him in my previous blogs, because he was away. My amazing husband is a helicopter aircrewman and rescue swimmer in the United Stated Navy. He was away on a detachment up until I received the results of my ultrasound. We were both still trying to remain positive.
“A 1-in-4 chance this is Cancer, means there is a 75% chance this is NOT Cancer,” I told him over the phone. “You don’t need to come home. I’m fine.”
His incredible leadership thought otherwise.
“You need to be home with your wife,” they told him. He was on a plane the next day to be with me.
And thank goodness he was. I was cool and collected on the outside, but tight and stressed with anticipation of the procedure on the inside.
“6-inch needle?! You got this ALL DAY!” he assured me with a wide smile.
He was slightly less confident after I explained to him that the needle wasn’t going down my throat, but through the cartilage in my neck.
When I arrived for the procedure, I was taken to a stark white clean room with big dome spotlights. It looked like the kind of room where rednecks are taken when they are abducted from their cornfield by aliens to be anally probed. (All that technology and they haven’t figured out a simple cheek swab yet. Weird.) In the middle of the room was a table, where I was instructed to lay down. Within minutes the room was bustling with a radiology tech, doctor, and a pathologist who was rolling in a cart loaded with glass vials and a pair of microscopes.
My neck was cleaned then the injections began. The first few were lidocaine to numb me up and they burned. Just a minute or two later, the doc began poking around. “Feel that? What about that? How about here?” It took me back to my wedding night.
I was numb. Now it was time to get some samples from the growth on my thyroid.
“We are going to take at least three,” the doc told me. “The pathologist is here to examine the samples right away to make sure we get enough cells.”
If not, the needles would continue until they had enough to test.
“You won’t feel pain here, just a lot of pressure,” he said as if to console me.
Doctors and dentists always use this line, “No pain, just pressure.” Unless I’m getting a Swedish massage, nothing about this makes me feel better. Who’s getting excited about lots of PRESSURE? It still doesn’t feel good, and this pressure was on my NECK. There is a word for that…it’s strangulation.
OK, OK. It really wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t fun. Guided by ultrasound, the doctor inserted long, thin needles into my neck then, once on target, wiggled them around to scrap cells from the thyroid growth. During this I had to stay completely still. My whole body was rock solid as each muscle clenched in anticipation of the “pressure.” We got what we needed in the first three samples.
As I sat up a rush of adrenaline waved over me. Whew! I was done. They told me the pathology results should take 3-5 business days to come back. Just two days later my phone rang. “Who the heck doesn’t text?” I thought. The number on my screen was from the doctor’s office.
Dun. Dun. Duuuuuuuuuun!
More next time!
***Note: I do not do illegal drugs. Before posting, I actually had to fact check by Googling, “Can you snort heroin?” I’m such a square! Hahah
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