A few months ago, during a routine physical, my physician found a lump on my thyroid. You know when they put their hand on your throat and ask you to swallow? That’s so they can feel for any masses. And I had one.
The doctor explained that thyroid nodules are common, more so with women than men, and half of Americans can expect to have one by the age of 60. And because most nodules don’t have symptoms, we may not know we have one at all. Only when they get large enough to press on certain structures in the neck, can they produce symptoms like hoarseness, problems swallowing, or shortness of breath.
The next step was for me to have an ultrasound, which I was able to schedule for the next week, to verify the presence, size, and makeup of the nodule. The findings were a 2.3cm solid nodule on the right lobe of my thyroid, which indicated a biopsy would be necessary to rule out cancer. The chances were still very low (my doctor said 9%) so I wasn’t overly freaked out, plus even if it were cancer, it’s usually very treatable.
Problem was, the otolaryngologist (head and neck surgeon) I was referred to had a 6-week wait. So I contacted other recommended doctors and got on every waitlist I could. Six weeks just seemed too long to wonder if I had cancer or not!
As it turned out, six weeks was the best I could get. I am not squeamish and am very interested in all things medical so the biopsy was not very stressful for me. I was put in a special chair that allowed me to crane my neck back and, after a numbing shot (the only painful part of the procedure), the surgeon inserted a very fine needle (using ultrasound to guide her) and extracted tissue samples from the nodule.
I was told it would take up to a week to get the results, but thankfully they came in just a few days and the news was great: “no evidence of malignancy.” No cancer. Woohoo! Now we simply need to watch the nodule’s growth via a yearly ultrasound.
This has reminded me how important it is for us to have yearly physicals. I never knew all the things they check for!
YOUR TURN: Have you had any surprise discoveries during a routine medical exam? Tell us more in the comments! Have you had a physical in the last year? If not, schedule it now!
Wow. Waiting is so hard. Glad you are okay.
Yes the wait is tough. Thanks so much Beth!
I didn’t know you were going through this, and I’m glad your wait, though long, was not too stressful. You sound like a very good patient!
To answer your question, I’ve also had a few things discovered during routine exams. The most serious was a tumor in my eye, discovered by an optometrist. (I thought I needed a new prescription, but it turned out I needed a specialist!) It was not detected as early as I wish it had been, but it has been treated.
The good result from all the “discoveries” was that I am now seeing doctors more regularly – for annual exams and blood tests, eye exams, and body scans every six months at the dermatologist. Every time I get good news it’s very reassuring!
PS: Everyone should get a dilated eye exam annually.
A great reminder. So glad you are well! Thanks for writing Dora!
THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR STORY! AS WE MATURE, OUR BODIES CHANGE IN EXPECTED AND UNEXPECTED WAYS. A BLESSING TO HAVE HEALTH CARE INSURANCE AS WELL!
Such a blessing to have health insurance! Thank you for commenting.
I am so glad your diagnosis was positive.
Thanks so much Catherine!
So happy you’re well, Helene. Sounds so scary, but gives a new appreciation for life when you come out the other side.
Absolutely! Grateful indeed. Thanks Laurie!
Sooo glad for the happy ending! Husby had a routine colonoscopy and they discovered some benign polyps. They took some out during the exam, but marked one in particular for surgery. The biopsy came back negative, so we took our time. Just after the start of Covin, he got (miraculously) in for surgery and they removed that small part of his bowel. Turned out his little benign polyp had teeth. Stage One malignancy. It hadn’t spread at all and he didn’t even need Chemo or Radiation, but it sure scared us! Things can change so quickly, can’t they?!
Wow so glad they caught it early. Super scary. Yes, things can change in the blink of an eye! Thanks for commenting Diane!
I hate those surprises, and I’m so glad this one had no follow-up surprises, Helene!
Me too! Thanks Karen!
A few hours following foot surgery I found myself unable to speak clearly. A neurologist examined me and said it was nothing, likely a reaction to the anesthesia. A few hours later I was fine. Still my GP thought we should check this out & scheduled a full cardiological exam. No issues. Then I had a complete neurological exam. Again no issues. So the neurologist suggested an MRI – well I had a brain tumor & fluid buildup on my brain! Neither caused the issue I experienced following surgery but I had two surgeries. I’m fine now but that was scary!
Amazing that they kept going despite no issues and you were feeling fine. So glad they caught the culprit and you are fine now. Yes, super scary!