I was at an event this past weekend with my family and a crowd shot was taken of me and many of my cousins. I know we are all critical of our own pictures, but none more than myself. I absolutely detest pictures of myself. Why? Because they look just like me. So, I upload the crowd shot and I immediately see myself. (another cousin had used my camera to take the picture....believe me, I wasn't doing the arm stretch thing to take pics of myself).
Even in the group shot I could see my ugly neck and my ugly scar and my ugly white-spot-that-won't-tan-neck.
And lucky you, I am going to show you the picture, so you can enjoy the funny (truly it is) story.
A totally un-touched-up picture, except to crop out the innocent people standing next to me.
See that giant scar on my neck? That is where this story begins (the rest was just pre-intro).
It all started almost four years ago. It was the September 7th. I was at one of my son's high school football games and out of the blue my throat began to get sore. I dismissed it and chalked it up to my-throat-not-being-in-shape-for-football-season-yelling-yet. By the end of the game my throat was pretty darn sore. I went home, took a couple of Tylenol and told my husband I was going to bed because my throat was sore. (Rarely do I go to bed before midnight).
Saturday morning I woke up and it was even more sore. I rummaged around to look for any kind of antibiotic that we had left over from anything. (Gasp. I know. I know. But that is the kind of pseudo-doctor that I am.)
I continue to try to self-medicate all weekend but my throat does not get better. In my husband's defense he tried to get me to go to the ER but I refused. I can be very stubborn. He knows that.
By Sunday evening my throat hurt so badly I could not talk (supergasp!), it was very, very hard to swallow, and it became hard to breathe. My husband strongly suggested that he take me to the ER (which was about a block away). I told him to 'sleep lightly and check on me all night to make sure I was still breathing.' He went to sleep but I couldn't. I could not breathe...as in I could not get air into my airway.
So I did wake him up several times and tell him I was still breathing but miserable. I kept asking him if I had a fever too. I also need to interject here that I was not able to talk. I was using pantomime gestures to 'talk' to him. When I was really frustrated I would write it out.
On Monday morning Hubby called into work for me. There was no way I could work. I put on shorts and a T-shirt, zero make-up, maybe brushed my hair and went straight to the doctor. My doctor had a walk-in clinic that opened at 7 a.m. I was there at 6:30 a.m. I had told my husband to go to work and I would call (??!!) him. He knows there is no arguing with me....(or at least arguing and winning!)
The walk-in clinic (I found out) was staffed by the P.A.'s. (Physician Assistant). I had/have nothing against P.A.'s.
I was the first patient of the morning. I got in there and I used all the breath I had left to whisper in the smallest of voices that my throat was killing me, I could not talk and I could barely breath. Also, by this time, my neck was actually swollen. (I do realize that would be hard to tell on me.) Well the P.A. kept asking me questions and I could not answer. I couldn't because I could not talk or breathe. He seems oblivious to this little fact. (I was sitting on the exam table and my (very long) (I am 5'11) legs were stretched out in front of me.
Then the P.A. said, "Lori, you have a gorgeous tan." I. KID. YOU. NOT!!! Right in the middle of me trying to show him that I might die from not being able to breathe and he comments on my tan. (AND don't even forget that it is September and I have been at work for three or four weeks and not in the sun. AND since when do medical personnel (encourage) like tans?)
Well if I couldn't breathe before, I certainly could not then, as I was choking/gasping and about to punch him out. He then told me that he figures I am 'coming down with' strep. I have a fever and I have all the signs. (!!??) Since when did strep make you unable to talk because you could not get the breath to breathe????
He gave me a prescription and told me to call in (for real) if I didn't feel better. Ugh.
I left to go and get my 'script filled. The pharmacy does not open till 9 a.m. I just hoped I didn't die before then.
Finally I got the meds. The pharmacist called me up to his station. He asked me what I was getting that particular medicine for. (Sorry, I cannot remember the name of it). I told him (whispered) that my throat was very sore and I was having trouble breathing and talking. The pharmacist got a puzzled look on his face and said, "Well I don't know why he prescribed this for you then because it is an enormous pill and it would be hard to swallow if you have a really sore throat. Super ugh. THEN he proceeded to tell me to drink LOTS with it as I swallowed it, as it had a very rancid (his words) taste, if it got stuck (are you even kidding me?) in your throat.
I remember buying some kind of good-tasting juice and going straight home. I opened the bottle of pills and knew I was in trouble. The dang pills were about the size of a small thumb. (Well maybe not that big, but they were extremely large. EXTREMELY.) I began to drink the juice. It would barely go down. I knew if the juice wouldn't go down, then chances of the pill were minimal. BUT I felt absolutely miserable, so I had to try.
You guessed it. The pill got stuck. And the pharmacist was not even kidding. I hopped around. I screamed. (Well it was a silent scream but my mouth was open and my eyes were watering and I was kicking, hopping, gasping, puking and finally, I dislodged the pill.) But the taste lasted FOREVER.
I was defeated. I called Tim. I tried to tell him the story, but I did not have the energy. I told him I was going to bed to try and sleep (as I had not been able to the night before).
Short version = really bad day. (Hubby did call the doctor's office and they said the medicine needed time to 'kick in'. He tried to explain that I had not been able to take it, but they said to give it 24 hours.) The next morning I got up early, Hubby called my work again, and I went to the clinic again. This time I could not talk. I wrote the nurse a note and said I refused to see the same P.A., but I HAD to see someone. She looked at me (had enormous pity on how I looked as I was still in the same thing from the morning before) and put me right in with a female P.A., even though they 'officially' were not open for business.
The female P.A. took one look at me and I could see her expression change. I pantomimed my dilemma to her. By this time my whole upper chest was visibly swollen too and my fever was high as well. I EVEN 'told on' her colleague and what he didn't do for me!! She poked and prodded and asked questions. She gave me a note-pad to write down answers. She put me straight into the hospital. Immediately. She would not even let me go home to get other clothes.
They hooked me up to Super Steroids. I had two different kinds going into me. This was mainly to get the swelling down so I could breathe. She also began me on some kind of antibiotic through an IV. THANK goodness I did not have to swallow anything else!! (or try to).
That afternoon I was given a CAT scan and an MRI. Then the female PA came and told me that I had just what she had suspected. I had a tumor in my throat. It had literally started growing that Friday night during the game and just got bigger and bigger. It was right by my voice box, which made me lose my ability to speak as it pushed on it. Also, the fact that I could not get my breathe did not help with the talking part. She said that the entire practice had only treated a tumor like this once before and that they were very rare. She told me they occurred in about 2 out of every 500,000 people. I was disappointed. I wanted to be ONE in a MILLION. I told her that. She was glad I had my sense of humor back.
My 'tumor' was called a Thyroglossal Duct Cyst. Symptoms: Hard to swallow, breath, talk; Fever (if infected); Noticeable swelling of neck and area of tumor. I had it all.
So, to make the long story longer, Female PA sent me to the nearest city to have a specialist look at it. He gave me a very thorough exam. He was very, very serious. He told me they would have to make in incision straight across my neck to be able to get the cyst out. He said that there are an extremely high amount of blood veins in the neck and he would be very careful about that and my voice box, etc. Then he said, "The incision is fairly large, so I will try my best to put the incision on one of your natural creases." I laughed. I actually found laughed out loud. I (whispered) "One of my natural creases?" He was very serious. "Well one of your natural folds." I laughed more. He still didn't. I (whispered) "You mean my wrinkles and my fat?" He still didn't smile. I (whispered more), "Well that is fine, but as long as you're working in the area, would you mind a nip and a tuck on that neck of mine?" Still no laughter on his part. In fact not even a smile. Geez. I decided I had better get on the surgeon's good side, since I was about to let him cut my neck wide open. I noticed by the diploma on his wall that he and I had gone to the same college (The University of Oklahoma), even though we were both in NE Kansas. I tried to conjure up the Boomer Sooner spirit, but he was still just so/so friendly.
But as Hubby pointed out, it was okay to have someone that took what they did very seriously, when they were working on the area around the jugular!
Long story longer: He got the entire cyst out. It was benign, as most Thyroglossal Duct Cysts are. The unique quality of the cysts though is they sometimes can grow back.
For those 2 in 500,000 of us that get this thing, this type of cyst is literally there from conception. As the doctors told me, at some point some kind of germ, or bacteria, travels down the throat and lands on the mini-microscopic cyst and it begins to blow up and grow.
It always requires surgery to remove. In rare cases people have not gotten the surgery in time and it has burst through their skin. (I hope you weren't eating right then.)
So, the whole point of this long narrative, (besides to tell you freakish things that happen to me) is to make sure you don't get some kind of weirdo male physicians assistant. KIDDING.
It was to always ask for female medical personnel.
It was to tell you all about my natural folds and natural creases that now also host one ginormous scar.
And, don't forget about that gorgeous tan.
Hey, P.S. Just so you know, ever since that surgery, I
get my neck to tan.
(Notice the white blob.)
p.s.s. I am not proofreading for errors or tense shifts. Deal with it.