Friends, today I write to you with a spirit of gratitude… I’ve been absent a bit but with good reason.
The week before Christmas, I was sitting in the kitchen talking to Wrex after he had gotten home one night and I was telling him that my neck looked fatter than normal lately. (I’ve always had a poofier neck and was diagnosed with a goiter when I was in high school. I have my thyroid tested twice a year and it’s always normal so it’s never been a huge cause for concern…other than me hating how it looks. Vain, I know.)
As I was talking to him about my neck, I reached up to touch it and I got the shock of my life; I felt a huge lump on the right side of my thyroid. Huge. Like golf ball huge. As soon as I said something, he could immediately see it, too. I called the clinic the next morning (a Friday) and they saw me that afternoon…and didn’t like what they saw.
I had a CT scan on Tuesday and Tuesday afternoon they called me with the results. I had cystic masses on both sides of my thyroid and the one on the right (the one I felt that night) had a nodule or hard tissue/tumor on it. I needed to go to an ENT and get a biopsy…and between the holidays that were approaching, it was going to be February. Not really the amount of time I wanted to wait….but wait we did…for a few days. The clinic called back and the doc had showed my scans to a retired ENT and he thought we needed to speed up the process. Good….and scary.
I got an appointment for the 15th of January in Fort Collins and in the meantime, we were waiting it out. We didn’t feel there was a reason to alarm the masses but we wanted to tell a few close friends who we KNEW would be praying for us…who would really pray…and obviously, we wanted to tell Wrex’s family. I did NOT want to tell everyone at Christmas and have all eyes on me or kill the mood or whatever but Wrex didn’t really want to call everyone individually.
We kept waiting for a good time to bring that up in conversation – it just doesn’t fit too well anywhere, ya know?! The day before we all gathered up to go home, Wrex’s dad wanted us to have some time as a family to tell each other what big things were going on in our lives that we could all be praying for each other about. Hello, open door….we shall enter.
Two days after we got home from Christmas in Nebraska, Wrex’s mom called to ask our opinion or encourage us to go to the Mayo Clinic. I could hear him talking to her and I just sat in the chair, quietly. Prior to this, my “adopted-mom” suggested the same thing. I had received it somewhat flippantly because when I think of Mayos, I think of someone on their last leg of survival and I didn’t feel like I was that far gone. After Wrex’s mom suggested it though, I told him about the prior recommendation and we both felt like it was confirmation that we should at least look into it, knowing that the odds of us getting seen (and getting seen soon) were probably slim to none.
So, I nosed around online while he was out doing chores and I found a “request an appointment” link. I filled out the forms, hit send and it notified me that someone would get back to us in 3-5 business days. That was 10:30pm. At 8:30 the next morning, my phone rang…and it was the Mayo Clinic…and they could see me on the 11th of January. We were just beside ourselves at how quick THAT whole process happened. We felt assured that this was the way the Lord was leading.
I, of course, was worried about money and did NOT want to leave my babies. We had NO idea how long we’d be gone or what they would find or what they would need to do to fix the situation… We were praying that it was benign and that we’d be home in a few short days!
We decided to take Sayble with us to ease the load of work for RaRa (Wrex’s mom) who was going to stay with the kids. We built this up as an exciting time for them to spend a few days with her while I got my neck looked at so we wanted them to truly get to play and make memories without a lot of work.
Wrex’s boss called during the week before we left reassuring Wrex that the company wasn’t going anywhere without him and to take as much time as he needed. He instructed us that we better be taking the company pickup and that he was buying the fuel. Wrex told him that he couldn’t allow him to do that and his (sweet ole) boss said he wasn’t asking, he was telling…and that was that.
We left Sunday morning at 5am and Sayble was a stinkin’ ROCKSTAR. She slept all the way to Kearney where we stopped and fed her and ourselves, was quite content all the way to Iowa where we ate lunch and then slept again the last 2 hours of the trip. She. Did. AWESOME.
Just so you know, it’s COLD in Minnesota. Colorado is not cold. Nebraska is not cold. Texas is DEFINITELY not cold. Minnesota? Is cold. When we rolled into town, it was 10 degrees below zero. Yeah.
Rochester is chocked full of hotels, mainly due to the Mayo Clinic. A lot of them are older so we weren’t sure what to totally expect. We found a Quality Inn online that had been remodeled on the inside and was more than willing to work with us regarding adding more days to our stay or cancelling some that we didn’t need. It was $75/night so that for sure appealed to Wrex.
When we opened the door to our room, we got a HUGE surprise and blessing! We had a suite! With 3 beds and a kitchenette and two TVs and two dressing areas – it was PERFECT! I had been so worried about how well Sayble would sleep not being in her own bed and with us in the room and we didn’t have to worry about that all. She slept like a rock in one room and we slept soundly in the other. He cares for our every need.
Our appointment was at 1:00pm and prior to it, my phone was going nuts with some of my favorite people encouraging me. I didn’t text anyone or remind anyone that Monday was a big day…they just remembered…and had been praying…and reached out to me in a monumental way…
We got there in plenty of time so as not to get lost. That place is HUGE. HUGE. We can talk about that later but really. HUGE. In it’s enormity, it’s very easy to find your way around. We walked straight to our waiting room, checked in and saw the doctor within five minutes. No, I’m not even kidding.
She assessed my reports, took me to an ultrasound room and ultrasounded my neck herself, remeasured everything, agreed we needed a biopsy and blood work. She ordered everything on the computer and sent me on my merry way!
After you leave the exam room, you check out with the nurses desk where they look at what she ordered and work to get you scheduled. We explained that we were from out of state and that while we didn’t want to wait another week, we understood that today might not work to get everything done. Not this trip. She scheduled my lab work for 15 minutes later and my biopsy for 3:00pm! Seriously, you guys…that place….
I had been working at hydrating myself the week and a half prior because blood draws and IVs don’t get along with my veins. Before my CT scan, it took 3 pokes for a blood draw and 9 for an IV. Not. Even. Kidding.
We walked down to the lab, checked in, sat down, watched them call about 15 other people in 5-10minutes times and then it was my turn. I sat down, she touched around on my arm while making small talk about my day and where I was from, gave me a small roll of gauze to squeeze, poked me with one poke, got what she needed, took the gauze from my hand, wrapped it around my arm, chatted about our kids for a minute or to and sent me on my merry way! I don’t think I was there 3 minutes. They. Are. Amazing. No wasted motions… From the little cubicle type area I was in, you could see a conveyor belt of sorts behind the panels in the wall making it’s way…somewhere…with all of those blood draws.
We ate a snack in the not remotely over-priced cafeteria. That was the other thing I was expecting…to be gouged…to be leaking like a sieve from our pocketbooks as we paid for little things (like snacks, especially with my blood sugar issues). Water? $1. Muffin? $1.49. Yogurt? $1.19. Chicken Caesar salad? $3.99. It was completely reasonable, thankfully.
At 3, I went back up for my biopsy and that crew was just as kind, professional, joyful and efficient as the rest. They used an ultrasound to find the cyst and tumor and used it guide their needles as they took sample cells to test. They also tried to aspirate, or drain, the cyst as much as possible to relieve some of the pressure it was putting on my neck and tongue. They were able to get about 3-4cc or what he considered to about half. The cyst fluid itself is a lot like Karo syrup in consistency so that was the best they could do, even with their biggest needles. The procedure didn’t really hurt at all but was a little sore later on that night.
We were all done by 4:00 pm and we just couldn’t help but take a deep breath and smile. We had had SUCH a good day. We had NO IDEA what the results would say but we knew we were in the right place no matter what. We celebrated with some Texas Roadhouse and the College National Championship Football game. Our follow up appointment was scheduled for 4:00pm the next day so we were just taking it easy…
We ate a leisurely breakfast the next morning and were slowly getting around when the endocrinologist from Mayo’s called asking us to come in earlier. We had NO idea what that meant but hurried up there. She saw us right away and gave us the good news that the tumor was BENIGN! Praise the LORD! We were (and are!) so thankful! All of my blood work came back normal so their recommendation was no surgery unless it began to impede swallowing, talking or breathing. If they did surgery, they would have to take out that lobe of the thyroid and since it was functioning properly, that is not something they wanted to do right now because it would just create a whole new host of symptoms and problems that we’d have to sort out.
After looking over the rest of my chart notes and complaints I brought along, she wanted me to see the neurologist for my sinus/migraines and to see the nutritionist and dietician in the endocrinology department to see if they could help with my blood sugar issues. She warned us that neurology was about 6 months out and nutrition was about 3-6 weeks out but she thought we should just order them and see what we could find. Wanna guess what happened?!
Yep. Neuro appointment that afternoon and nutrition/dietician appointments for the next day.
The neurologist was an older gentleman that has written at least seven books regarding Parkinson’s disease and was so sweet and fun to visit with. We did some visiting and he did a small exam and gave me a prescription for a drug that the Mayo Clinic themselves compounds that is his favorite when it comes to migraines. Sounds good to me!
The next day, I got to meet with the nutritionist and while getting news that my thyroid was benign was INCREDIBLE, my meeting with this lady might just save my life. After talking with her regarding my blood sugar issues, she diagnosed me with reactive hypoglycemia. I’ve struggled with low blood sugar ever since I was pregnant with Wryder three years ago and NOTHING I have done has been working.
I was told to stay away from sugar, eat lots of protein and very few carbs…which is almost the opposite of what I should be doing. I was eating a heavy protein diet and not NEAR enough complex carbohydrates and my body was just blowing through that protein as fast as it would a piece of candy.
For whatever reason (that’s the part I wish I knew!) my body breaks down food really fast after eating so I get a woosh of glucose which triggers a woosh of insulin (too much) which sends my blood glucose too low and I get symptomatic (shaky, sweaty, weak, nauseous, irritable, unable to make a decision, dizzy, anxious, etc.) and on a cellular level I’m just as much of a wreck…
For the past three years, I’ve either just constantly been chasing that roller coaster of a glucose curve trying to make the symptoms go away as quick as they came OR I’ve been completely over-eating so that I could try not to feel any of those symptoms. When I would feel symptomatic, I would grab a cheese stick or a handful of nuts or a spoonful of peanut butter – trying to stay away from carbs. WRONG!
She laid out an eating plan for me that has me eating 6 meals a day, each about 300 calories with 2-4 complex carb choices during meals 1, 3 and 5 and 1-3 complex carb choices at meals 2, 4 and 6. I’ve eaten this way for the past 6 days now and man alive……..I already feel like a completely different person.
It’s been a lot to chart and balance…I had to put it all in an Excel spreadsheet and tape it to my fridge, yall! I know it will be something I have to be diligent about despite all of the other irons I have in the fire. My wonderful husband helped me on Sunday (and we’ll do the same today) to portion out all of my proteins and naturally occurring sugars and carbs. I have a fridge full of tupperware with portioned snacks/meals ready to go because I know that life WILL happen and I’ll think I’m superwoman and that I can just go a little while longer before I eat…..and then I’ll regret it and send myself right back into that awful cycle of chasing my glucose…
I know I’m not out of the woods yet and that I have a long way to go to maintain that eating plan but I feel SO VERY HOPEFUL. Hopeful.
In readying myself for the trip to Minnesota, I did some talking to my brain and prepared myself to see some people who were a lot worse off than I was…and while we saw a few, we mainly just saw HOPE.
During my last appointment, Wrex and Sayble were walking all the halls and underground tunnels and when I called to tell him I was done, he told me to meet him at the little museum on the subway level. I’m seriously fascinated with the place so I thought that was a great idea. Here’s what you see right when you walk in….
The Lord heard our cries and He answered us, friends. I will never forget this trip or this experience and the ways He has been so faithful to us over and over and over and over again.
I know this was a really long post and I know I probably left out a million details and examples of His faithfulness… I didn’t know if I really wanted to share ALL of this with the world but I just felt so passionately hopeful and grateful that I just couldn’t help but do so…
More later on the Mayo Clinic in general but for now, it’s snack time!