Here we go. Adam and I rose from our cushioned chairs in the waiting room. Holding hands, he gave mine a squeeze as we walked towards the pleasant nurse. She propped the door open with her back and a smile, then took the paperwork I had just completed. I didn't want to walk through the door with her but I knew that I had to.
Guiding me to a chair in a hallway, I sat as she began her routine of necessities. Weight, height, blood pressure...it seemed surreal that I was going through such a regular collection of data when all I wanted to do was scream, "I don't care about any of this...I just want to know if I have cancer!"
Adam knew me too well and tried to crack a few jokes. The kind nurse gave us a grin then walked us to a white room with two chairs and an exam table. Telling us that someone would be right in, she closed the door.
The way I see it, that's about the time that one of three things are bound to happen.
Number one, you'll be in complete denial of what's going on around you. "There's no way that I'm sick. It's just not possible."
Number two, you're somewhat at peace with whatever may come. "I'm either fine or I'm not. No matter what...I'm going to deal with it."
Or number three...you're totally freaking out. "I'm going to die. I'm going to find out in the next hour that I'm going to die."
I've been a little bit of all three for the past few days. It pretty much hits you the hardest when you're sitting in a sterile room, waiting for that knock from the other side of the door though. It's difficult not to wonder who is about to enter...the Angel of death or of Mercy.
A young and pretty Physician's Assistant came to visit first- and explained the reason for the follow up tests. The last results came back with somewhat of a red flag so they had to continue further. "If we need to get in there and see what's going on, then we'll know for sure. We'll wait and see what the doctor decides to do."
(Get in there and see...)
Taking us from the unassuming examination room, we were led down the hall to a darkened room with a bigger medical bed to lie on and equipment all around. There was a high-tech ultrasound machine to the left and a knot grew in my chest reminding me of our little ones.
How many times had we seen this same display before? Finding out we were having a boy for the first time? Finding out on the fourth and final attempt that we were actually getting a baby girl? So many tears of joy had been in rooms just like this.
This could not be happening.
The doctor entered the room with a calmness and a kind smile. Shaking our hands and going to the machinery, he had me lie down as he placed cool gel and the ultrasound across my neck.
"Everything actually looks to be within normal limits...so that's a good thing." My heart swelled through my chest. My heart was too hasty.
"The one reason that we have you here today though, is that even though you have a lot of growth around your thyroid, there's one small area that we're concerned about. It's demonstrating the signs that could be related to cancer. I'd like to take some samples of that area by sticking a very thin needle in your neck and getting what we need. We don't have to do that today if you're not ready, but we should do it so.."
"Do it now." I stopped him mid-sentence. "Do it now and get it over with. I'm here...do it now."
The doctor looked at me, then at Adam with an unspoken "Alright, let's go then," expression as he turned to get what he needed.
Another nurse with lavender non-latex gloves appeared and stood to my left. Adam sat in a chair to her side and leaned forward to hold my hand.
I whispered, "Do you want to see this? He's going to stab needles through my throat." As my stomach tighten, Adam said, "I'm right here."
The nurse with the purple gloves lowered my head backwards. It was an unnatural position with my neck pushed up in the air. I tried to breath and keep the focus off of the blood flowing to my brain. All of the anatomy classes I had taken to become a therapist began to slam through my thoughts.
(What if he hits a nerve? What if he punctures my trachea?)
More thoughts of, "What if I cough?" to "What if HE coughs?" started their way in.
The screeching sound of a scratching record took away all of that as soon as he turned and approached me with the needle. It was not small.
Before I could ask if there was any numbing cream, any ANYthing...he put the ultrasound back on my neck and said, "I'm going to look where I want this to go and I'll tell you when to get ready."
I was trying to breathe and stay perfectly still, while at the same time, my head had to tell my body not to move. It's the most unnatural thing to have someone take a needle to your neck while forcing yourself not to budge.
"Okay...we're ready...aaaand..." There was a pinch. It was on the mid-right section of my throat and it literally felt like a sewing needle being pushed into my neck. It wasn't the worst pain ever but it definitely wasn't pleasant. I thought he was going to push it in, then take it right out. He didn't. He seemed to scape or push around...I don't know what...until finally he pulled the needle back out and it was done.
It was like truth serum in reverse. Whatever he pulled out of me would hold all of the answers.
Purple gloves flashed across my face as gauze and pressure were put in the absence of the needle.
Turning his back, the doctor asked if I was ready again as he came towards me with a new needle. Same pinch, same pressure, same urge to punch him.
Round two was done and I felt the back of my neck stiffen from tightness. Turning my head to see Adam, I didn't know if he would be alright or close to passing out.
He nodded and gave a half smile whispering, "Are you okay?" Nodding yes, I fought back tears. I felt the area sting in my neck when I moved it.
Stopping me short from answering, the third needle came into view. "You're doing great. Are you ready for the last one?"
It was done. A pillow replace the uncomfortable position of my neck and more gauze was held against my skin. We would know the answer once and for all and now we had to wait...again.
As things were wrapping up, we explained how we were going on a family vacation for the first time in a long time and how it would be nice to know before we left. The doctor said that he would actually be able to look at some slides of the samples if we wanted him to, giving a preliminary assessment of the results NOW.
"I can't tell you with 100% accuracy, but I can at least tell you if things look good to a certain degree."
Adam stood where the nurse once was at my side. I saw his chest rise from the breath he took in. I didn't know if it was from nervousness or relief.
A calm came over me. The test was done. The answer existed...now it jut had to be found. Through all of the prayers from family and friends...through words of advice and thoughts of well wishes...a feeling said, "It will be okay."
The power of prayer and the faith in God are an amazing thing. It can remove fear and doubt and strengthen the weakest of hearts. Like my Mom said before I left for the test, "Our God parted the Red Sea Child, he can take care of this!"
For what seemed like hours, the doctor switched slides in and out of a microscope on a table across the room. Adam and I waited for any response.
Quietly snickering, I mumbled, "Suddenly I feel like I should have paid more attention in biology class." Adam grinned and shook his head.
"Well..." The doctor said as he hunched over the microscope.
"To tell you the truth, I'm not seeing anything that alarms me. It looks pretty benign so far."
My eyes filled again and I pulled Adam's hand.
"This isn't 100% remember, but it looks pretty good so far. I'll try to have the official results to you by the end of the week but I like what I see."
Thank You God and Thank You to our family and friends for the prayers and thoughts. Things look good and we'll keep hoping for the best.