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Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas ...

What I've tried to do with this blog is to make it an extension of me, of my personality, and the things that matter to me.  I've tried to at least keep it humorous and somewhat informative, though I'm not sure I really did that in the way I wanted.   I like to make people laugh, so much so that I tend to say things at inappropriate times because the first thought I have usually is, "How can I squeeze a laugh out of this person?"  It's something I have always done - in school, with friends, on the air.    Growing up you get asked "What do you want to be when you grow up?", and thinking about it, maybe I actually am doing the only thing I have ever wanted to do in life.  Entertain people.  Hence my post on a very personal issue - I simply can't keep my trap shut.

A lot has happened to me over these last few weeks.  Most of it is very private, so not many people are aware.  Which is interesting, because I have had to squash this need to over share and actually keep stuff to myself, or at least in my inner circle.  Another anomaly: I have an inner circle.

Recently I was diagnosed with Hyperparathyroidism, which really means nothing, other than one of my parathyroid glands located within the Thyroid itself is over-active and is producing too much Calcium.  This leads to kidney stones and eventually a lower bone density as the hyper gland pulls Calcium from my body and into the blood.  Typically this requires surgery to remove the hyper gland, of which your Thyroid has 4, and all is well.  They gave me a Nuclear Medicine scan to isolate the over-active gland and bam - I suddenly had a surgeon.  

Going to an appointment with my surgeon is when things got, well ... real.  She did an ultrasound to locate the gland and to talk to me about what it meant to undergo surgery like that, taking still images of my Thyroid and the glands within it.  She takes a printout and tells me she wants to show this one segment to her partner for a second opinion.  5 min later she says she wants to do a FNA, or a Fine Needle Aspiration.  Meaning, she wants to stick the Thyroid with a bunch of real small needles to pull fluid samples because it might be cancerous.  But it's more than just a simple poke to the neck and off you go with a pat on the bottom. I got a local anesthetic, but it was more for the gland I think.  The surgeon inserts the needle and it keeps going and going - naturally its a long needle because it has to get from the side of your neck to the middle.  This intense pressure came on as she pressed the needle deeper into my neck.

Feeling a long, sharp, metal object pushed into a gland in your throat - even through the anesthetic - is a bizarre experience.  Because you aren't really feeling pain so much as pressure.  Take your index finger and place it about 2 inches to the side of your voice box.  Then push in slowly, as far as you can. Then start poking yourself, moving your finger into and out of your flesh.  This is kind of what it feels like to get a FNA done, although much worse.  The whole thing was fairly traumatic.  I could see the surgeons hands as they moved the needle around rapidly within my thyroid and I could feel my neck give way each time and all I could think of was, "This is how a chicken feels when you cut it."  Whatever the hell that means.  At one point I began to cry - again, not due to the pain so much, though there is a lot of that - but more because of that pressure on my neck and the visualization of what is going on inside me, combined with the possibility of what this test could reveal.

Done.  I sat up, tear-stained and feeling violated.  The rest of the visit was a blur.  Suddenly I'm in my car driving home, crying.  Why?  I can't say.  There isn't one thing I can point to, it was just the entire experience of going in to see a doctor for a pre-surgery visit and then to come out with a swollen neck and the fear of the unknown.  Plus the surgeon's hands moving up and down as she stabbed me over and over didn't help.

This was on Friday.  By Wednesday I got the call.

I officially have cancer.

How did this happen?  What does this mean?  How does this feel?  These are the questions I have and the ones I'm going to explore, sort of taking you on the mental journey that I'm now forced on.  I want to let you know what it's like to hear that you have cancer and how that changes the way you think about everyday little bullshit that normally doesn't phase.  Little things become bigger, and big things that once consumed you don't matter any more.  And yes, it's only Thyroid Cancer, which I'm told is just about the easiest form of cancer you can get, and it's super treatable, and everything is fine.  But it's CANCER, right?  It's SCARY and FUCKING SCARY, even if it is localized and contained.

Anyway, this is now my cancer blog.  So if you want to know the weird things that go through an idiots head on the subject, now's your chance.  I plan on being as open as I can about this whole deal, and hopefully the end result will be the spreading of knowledge about Thyroid Cancer and how you can get screened for it.  Even though it's a fairly simple cancer, if unchecked it will spread, and that's never good.  Unless Cancer is a stripper.




7 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this jp. You don't know me, I only know you from the bn, but the humor you have given me in my darkest times, can't compare to what I can give to you, but all I can say, is whip this sonofabitch. Wishing you a clean bill of health

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    1. Thanks man, for taking the time.

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  2. About a year and a half ago my otherwise healthy and young wife was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Cancer had basically replaced 90% of her bone marrow.
    She went through 6 rounds of chemo and all the fun that entails and was declared in remission. 6 months after that they tested her and it had come back.
    Next stop: Bone marrow transplant. Luckily her little brother was a perfect match to be a donor. Now a bone marrow transplant involves more chemo, radiation and about a month in the hospital with no immune system. Since she had no immune system, they don’t let dirty little kids visit…did I mention we have 2 of those. The didn’t see their mom for a month.
    After 6 months and a mouth infection requiring another 2 weeks in the hospital she’s cancer free. Her bone marrow is producing blood with her brother’s DNA.

    Every time they had to get a biopsy from her, it required a bone marrow aspiration which involves a hole saw drilling a plug from the pelvic bone and a needle going into the marrow.

    If my 100 lb. 5’3” wife can handle that shit and come out shiny on the other side, you can handle this shit.

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    1. Wow, thanks for sharing, Ed. I'm stoked to hear everything is working out for you and your family.

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  3. We're with ya Jipper. Get well soon.

    BDawg-

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  4. Lots of people talk about how laughter and positive energy and shit is the best cure for illness... whether it's bullshit or not, I think regular visits to Disneyland are now officially an important component of your treatment. Be well friend.

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