Archive for the 'medix' Category

Look Ma - No Stitches

incisionWhen I was admitted to the ER last November with a throat abscess, the radiologist discovered a mass on the right lobe of my thyroid gland. After consulting with our Family Doctor we were referred to an Ear Nose and Throat specialist who said the mass and the right thyroid lobe has to come out.

Last Friday, we went to the hospital and had the procedure. The operation was a “Thyroid Lobectomy” which involved removal of the right half of my thyroid which was the section with the mass.

This operation involves removing the half of the thyroid gland that has the nodule. It is sometimes called a “diagnostic lobectomy” because the preoperative diagnosis may be uncertain and part of the reason for the operation is to make a diagnosis of cancer or no cancer. [more]

After the procedure while I was still under anesthesia, the pathologist froze the nodule and did a quick slice analysis biopsy under a microscope and determined there was no cancer. Had the biopsy been positive, then the other half of the thyroid would have to come out. Thank the Lord the mass was benign.

Today (and all weekend, actually) I am doing fine. There is a little discomfort, more pressure than pain, a little swelling and bruising. I am using an ice pack a few times a day to try and reduce swelling.

In the (clickable) image above is the base of my neck where the incision was made. When they closed it up, they used neither sutures nor staples - they “glued” me back together! I had been expecting to have a railroad-track scar across my neck, but they tell me this won’t be very noticeable.

I have a follow-up with the ENT on Wednesday where we discuss what happens next with possible supplemental thyroid medication and whatever else. I’m just glad the main event is over and things went well.

The Magnificent Seven

2011 Move In House Recent Photo

It was seven years ago today that The Better Half and I took possession of the retirement house we had our contractor build. After many home improvements and landscaping events the (clickable) images show the then and now images of our humble abode. The left image is how the place looked when we moved here; the right image is from last year but essentially how we see it today.

Even after seven years of being magnificently happy here, we are still making changes to the landscaping and other things to try and constantly improve and/or maintain the property. 2018 will likely see new paint for the house, courtyard wall and retention walls. We also still have it in mind to build an RV shelter on the south side of the property with full hookups.

We are still having to deal with some health issues this year with ongoing visits to various medical professionals for checks this and that plus we will probably undergo some fairly invasive procedures which are a little risky, but considered to be necessary for continued well-being. More on that after we’re done with it.

We are looking forward to a great new year with plans to see the families on yet another motor tour or two in the Class A Motorhome. Hope your year is going as well.

Visit to the ER Today

IV TubesI have been nursing a sore throat for the last week or so. I finally went to the clinic a couple of days ago and saw the Physician Assistant Lady who prescribed amoxicillin to try and get it under control.

Clickable Image - the intravenous tube hookup on my right arm

I took the meds for a couple of days and the infection kept getting worse. I slept for [fecal term redacted] last night and decided enough was enough. I reported to the local ER this morning where they put me in a little cubicle in preparation for some tests.

They took blood (several vials), did a swab test for strep throat and also did a CT scan of my head and neck area. We waited for the test results which found the following:

  • The swab for strep was negative
  • The blood work showed an elevated white cell count indicating an infection, among other things (they were quite thorough)
  • The CT revealed an abscess - Peritonsillar infection left side of pharynx.
  • The CT also revealed what appears to be an abnormal mass associated with my thyroid

After analyzing the results, the staff started infusing me with a couple of different antibiotics along with a liter of H2O. It took over an hour to administer that. They then discharged me with instructions and a couple of prescriptions: an antibiotic and a pain reliever.

With regard to the thyroid mass discovery, they referred me back to my family physician for a follow-up and possible biopsy on Friday. Whatever the mass might be, it seems to have no symptoms and was discovered when the radiologist examined the scan results. Jury is out on that one for now.

I am at home this evening, a little after eight PM Arizona time and resting fairly comfortably. There is still quite a bit of pain swallowing and the pain pills are taking the edge off of that. I am on an opioid called hydrocodone the use of which prohibits any activities that should not be performed under its influence such as driving.

Going forward, I have a list of things that could happen and, if they do happen, go back to the ER which is a 24/7 facility ten minutes away from home. I will report on the thyroid thingy when I know anything.

Healthcare Action Required

nullLast week, I received a letter from my retiree benefits provider regarding “Action required to Maintain Health Coverage for One or More of Your Dependents.” The medical plan overseers have suddenly discovered that they need to have me update proof of my dependents eligibility “even though your dependent(s) may have been enrolled in coverage for some time.” To that end, they have hired a “dependent eligibility verification service” who will gather “required documentation.”

The verification service (not the retire benefits folks) will send us a package with detailed instructions and forms to return for the proof required. The letter I received implies a veiled threat that coverage will be discontinued for dependents for whom no proof is provided by some arbitrary deadline.

So, in addition to whatever forms are to be filled out, we are obliged to provide photocopies of our government-issued marriage certificate and the first page of our 2016 Form 1040 income tax return “confirming this dependent is your spouse.” We have no problem providing the former, but the latter, which contains SSNs and our financial numbers, is off limits unless we redact the information which is non-essential to proof that we filed jointly.

We can’t be completely sure, but we believe that this new requirement of proof along with the 30 percent increase in spouse health insurance premiums this year, is fully attributable to the disastrous ACA (a.k.a. Obummercare), which should have had nothing to do with our health coverage. (Grumble!)

Healthcare Status Update

nullIt has been several months since I posted anything about our health status. We have both had issues, mostly minor. The Better Half is just getting over a two-week bout with common cold and sore throat. She is still a little congested and taking some OTC elixir to help with that. She no longer has the sore throat and headache symptoms that have been with her for the past couple of weeks.

Just before the new year, I underwent a routine colonoscopy where five benign polyps were removed. The proctologist that performed the procedure said everything else looked normal and advised me to schedule another routine colonoscopy within five years.

Later this month, I am scheduled for more bladder resection surgery. The urologist was not completely sure that the last small tumor was completely excised, so we will do the fourth or fifth of this procedure in less than a fortnight.

Lastly, and not least, is the discovery by the family doctor that my kidney numbers were low in a routine blood test. I saw a nephrologist yesterday to confirm this and found out that the numbers are indeed in a bad place and may have been caused by several factors; there are a number of OTC pain relievers that can cause kidney problems and the intravenous contrast dye used when I was having CAT scans in the past is a no-no. We will be taking corrective action on these things to see if the kidney numbers start moving in a good direction. I had a blood test today and will repeat the same test in eight weeks.

For all the maladies we have encountered there are several things that all the doctors recommend; lose weight, drink more water, less beer and get more exercise. Starting today, that will be the drill.

Healthcare Status Update

nullWe postponed a few healthcare issues until after our September excursion, so October has had a few routine and some special healthcare appointments. Among the routine, we had our dental and medical periodic check-ups and among the special, we have undergone a couple of procedures. The routine exams went OK, with some minor mods to The Better Half’s medications and both of our dental checkups have shown improvement in some troubled areas that seem to be getting under control.

As for the not-so-routine issues, the urologist excised another very small tumor from my bladder for which the lab report is still impending. There is a possibility that the doctor will have me back in the outpatient procedure to resection a portion of the bladder wall. I will find out next week both the results of the biopsy and the verdict on more bladder surgery.

I would call the above a pain in the ass, but after another in-the-office procedure last Friday, an external thrombosis in my lowest G.I. component wins the pain in the ass award. It’s healing nicely, but still a P.I.A. Prognosis for a complete recovery is good.

We’re hanging in there for the time being and will update with more when we find out the details.

Post Surgery Report

Yesterday, The Better Half and I drove to the ENT Doctor that performed the surgery to have the sutures removed and to get the lab report on the tumor that was removed. The suture removal was a snap since there were only six. It took him under two minutes to get them out. The residual scar is at the left behind the clickable title. There are still some swollen spots which gives it a raised appearance which should diminish and smooth out the skin in time.

As for the biopsy report, the main finding was short and sweet: “periparotid hyalized nodule and intravascular organizing thrombi - negative malignancy.” Quite a mouthful to try and say that, but I love that last part - no carcinoma. There were a bunch of other notations by the lab but after the good part, none of that mattered much.

There are a couple of after effects which are forecast to disappear after some recovery time of unknown duration; one is a numbness in my left cheek and the other related neurological effect is range of motion in my facial muscles on the left side. My crooked smile is even more crooked. But everything works well enough for speech, eating and such.

Between the folks on Fecesbook© and here, the thoughts, wishes and prayers have done the job again.

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