ACDF Anxiety health

Incidental Findings

I process by writing. And this week, I have a lot to process.

I recently had an MRI that was ordered after weeks of unbearable pain. I thought it was a tight trapezius muscle. Then a tight rhomboid. I thought maybe the pain was in my neck, but it shot down my arm. Maybe it was coming from my shoulder? I didn’t know anymore. After weeks and weeks, I just wanted relief.

As I was laying in the MRI machine, trying not to open my eyes and feel the clausterphobia creep in, I thought, “man, I hope they don’t something find something unrelated to my neck.” I thought, “what if they find a brain tumor or Multiple Sclerosis lesion?” The thought came, and then it left.

Until a few hours later when I got the MRI report.

The first item on the report was on par with my pain.

Left paracentral disc protrusion at C5-C6 with moderate mass
effect upon the cord. No cord signal abnormality

The second, well, that came out of left field.

16 mm left thyroid lobe nodule. Recommend ultrasound for further
evaluation

When I got the results, I said to my husband, “So, they found something else on the MRI, something unrelated to my neck.” He said, “Are you pregnant?” Um, no.

This thyroid thing is called an incidental finding. They were going in looking for one thing and found something else. This happened to my grandpa. He was preparing for a heart valve replacement surgery when they found a tumor in his lung. Incidental finding.

So, I guess you can say, I had some experience.

In the MRI notes from my doctor, the thyroid nodule weren’t even acknowledged. My mom told me not to freak out, these were common. A good friend told me that it was small, unlikely cancerous, “but OMG WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR NECK?!?! “

With the dark line down the center being my spinal column, that disc should not be pushing into it. So yeah, there is definitely a reason for all of my pain.

I didn’t know what to process first so I put a call into the doctor’s office, but he wasn’t in until the next day. The first thing he did was refer me to a neurosurgeon for my neck, then, I asked about the thyroid and he said to get an ultrasound within the next month.

I was able to find my herniated disc, but don’t ask me to identify my thyroid. My guess is somewhere in this view. The top is my neck. The bottom is my back. It’s a view from the top of my head down, looking at the compression on my spinal cord.

However, things with the surgeon moved much quicker than I expected, so the ultrasound got pushed up so that I can be cleared for surgery in mid-December.

So tomorrow, I’ll get yet another look at my insides.

Today was just a day of processing, realizing that in five weeks, I’m having neck surgery. That there is “something” on my thyroid. That my grandma has COVID. That 8,000+ cases of COVID were diagnosed in my state yesterday.

I just needed to process in word form. So, here I am. And here is where I intend to process this as we lead up to the surgery and maybe beyond. All I’ve seen online about this surgery is scary and horrible and I just want to show something other than that. So, T-35 days. I just need a dental cleaning, bloodwork, physical and COVID test.

Let’s do this.

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