Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Tale of Two MRIs, Part 3: Tell Me How I'm Supposed to Breathe With No Air


In August I found out that the mass in my mouth wasn't what I'd thought. An appointment with my normal dentist led to an oral surgeon, which led to an MRI. Oral surgeon didn't see much, so he sent me to Endodontics (root canal guy). Endodontics found no need for a root canal. Supposed next step was a referral to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist.

In addition to the mass in my mouth, the MRI showed two other masses: one on my thyroid and one on/near my clavicle. I would need an ultrasound for the thyroid and an MRI for the clavicle.

Back to the story...

Hubby and I managed to have a really nice weekend away for our anniversary. We stayed at a cute place in Bowler, WI and took a day trip to Green Bay to check out the NEW Zoo and hit up Lambeau Field. We had dinner at a supper club, checked out some geocaches, and spent a lot of time together in the car, which is one of our favorite things to do.

On our anniversary proper (9/18) we went to dinner here in Milwaukee. If you've never been to Lake Park Bistro, I highly suggest it. It may be one of the more expensive meals you'll ever have, but also one of the tastiest. Plus the staff there is wonderful, there's a great view (or so we hear; we've only ever been at night), and the restaurant is beautiful. Oh, and since our anniversary fell on a Monday, the majority of the other patrons were other couples celebrating their anniversaries! :-)

The next morning I went in for my ultrasound. I had an 8 AM appointment, which meant getting there at 7:45. Thankfully this was still done at the same clinic as my primary doctor's office and the MRI, so it was all of a 5 minute drive to get there. I checked in at Radiology, in the basement, and was instructed to take the elevator to the second floor, go down the hall, and enter the last door on the left. So off I went. I walked through the door I had been instructed to seek out, but no one was there. Literally nobody. Reception desk? Empty. Waiting area? Empty. I just kind of stood there for a minute, going over the instructions in my head, wondering where I'd gone wrong. Was it a left turn at Albuquerque? Or a right? Damn you, Bugs Bunny!

I didn't have to wait long. A door across the hall opened and a woman said, "Erika?" I nodded and she beckoned me over. "Thanks for coming early." OK. I didn't have much of a choice, but you're welcome? She led me down the hall and into a small exam room. I took a seat on the table while she readied the ultrasound machine, then she tucked three or four napkins into my shirt collar and asked me to lie back.

This was not my first ultrasound. I've had three others. The first was to check on a lump in my breast (turned out to be nothing). The second was to check for a blood clot in my left leg (nada). The third was to confirm that a lump on my right thigh was a lipoma (yep). So I know the procedure pretty well and I thought I knew what to expect. And I did... mostly.
This guy, amiright?

What I didn't consider was the exact location of one's thyroid. So while I knew that the wand was heading toward my neck, I didn't really anticipate the pressure it would place on my windpipe. You know what's hard to do? Relax (and breathe) when someone is cutting off your oxygen supply. And of course, despite the mass being on the right side of the thyroid, we had to get pictures of the whole damn thing, so when I thought I was done, we were only half done. Yay.

Now, in all fairness, it didn't take very long at all. In fact, I was done with the ultrasound before my appointment time even rolled around. But when you have someone actively obstructing your only source of air, it feels like a lot longer. Also, my throat was super slimy from the jelly afterward. That was pretty gross. But at least it was quick and it was over.

Since I had some blood tests waiting for me, I headed back down to Radiology and signed in to get that out of the way, too. This ended up being an interesting experience for me as well. The nurse asked me some questions and then as she went to look for my veins I told her that she may have to go through my hand.

"Does that happen a lot?"

"Well, I've had two MRIs in the past year and both times they've had to go through my hand for the dye injection. Apparently my veins like to hide or something."

She poked at my left arm for all of 3 seconds before saying, "Really? What's wrong with this one right here?"

I was floored. "Uh, well, that's a good question..."

She got me prepped and said, "Yeah. See, that's the difference between it being their part-time job and it being my full-time job." I watched as she quickly filled two small vials with my blood and then sent me on my way. I've always had mad respect for nurses and I think they deserve far more recognition than they usually get. This woman completely reinforced those beliefs. She was professional, courteous, and good at her job. I can't tell you how much I appreciated a pain-free experience that morning. (It was also nice to confirm that I do actually have veins in my arms as well.)

The results from the ultrasound came in the following day. I have two small nodules on my thyroid. One is a cyst and we don't need to worry about it. The other doesn't appear to be anything concerning, and isn't large enough to warrant a biopsy, so we'll do another ultrasound next year (yay) just to make sure nothing has changed. This was good news, but I still had another MRI to worry about and I was worried my luck was going to run out.

To be continued...

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