Change Me

Got around to seeing Rhinologist this week to get my breathing issues resolved.  Since my thyroidectomy I’ve never been able to breathe well through the right nostril thanks to all the nerve damage that occurred.  My inferior turbinate is pretty much always swollen instead of shrinking and swelling naturally.  Almost like having a plugged up nose when you’re sick, but this is all the time.  About 11 months ago I had a procedure done to try and help alleviate the problem.  All that ended up doing was giving me some massive scabs, I’m sure you’ve likely seen the pictures I took of them.  Hahaha!
Since I was so focused on getting some improvement to my voice last year (which is still ongoing).  I felt now is the time to get the breathing problem fixed.  I asked my Laryngologist (Dr. Merati) to refer me to a nose doctor the last time I saw him which was for my 3 month follow-up after the thyroplasty and arytenoid adduction surgery.  I was finally able to get an appointment with Dr. Greg Davis at UW Medical Center to talk about my problem and the options I have to getting it fixed.
We talked about what happened with my thyroidectomy and what we tried to fix it previously, Flonase was first, made no difference at all.  We then tried the radiofrequency ablation of the turbinates, as mentioned earlier that didn’t do anything either.  He checked out the inside of my nose with a speculum, looked at both sides, then used a videoscope to get a deeper look and came to the conclusion that in addition to my turbinate problem, I also have a slightly deviated septum to the right side which was also affecting airflow.  Had no idea, never had a problem with breathing before my first surgery, but interesting nonetheless. 
We chatted some more about my options which one was to try the radiofrequency ablation again, but if it didn’t work the first time, it’s not likely to work the second time.  He also went on to tell me of a fairly recent study that was done where a group of patients had this procedure done but they had setup the machine to only work with some patients.  Without them knowing if it was working or not, they found out that it didn’t really make much of a difference for most patients.  I said, “Yeah, you can throw me in that group.”  He then said that I could go in for surgery and have my septum straightened out and have the bone that supports the inferior turbinate reduced or removed completely and about half of the turbinate tissue removed.  This is a much more efficient and permanent way of getting the problem fixed.  Which tells me that there really isn’t any other options!
He was aware that my endocrinologist wants to have a biopsy done on this mass to get an answer on what it is and if it’s bad.  Knowing this he said it’s possible to have this completed at the same time as I’m in for surgery.  That’s awesome, two birds with one anesthesia.  I like it.  He said that I could be down for the count for 7-10 days afterwards, but he’s also had patients return to work about 4 days after too.  Luckily I’ll be able to work from home to limit the amount of time I’m away from work.  Score.  Now I just need to get in touch with endocrinologist to get more info about the biopsy and how she feels about getting it done at the same time.
Been seeing a speech therapist once a week for the past month, it’s been interesting.  Learned some new things, discovered I was doing things that don’t help, and learned that I really have to pay more attention to my speaking in order to get a better, (relatively) louder voice.  I was just booked for 3 more appointments over the next month and half.  We started doing conversational speech this week which I was most looking forward to since I don’t really talk to people one word at a time, nor do I use the sentences I was given as homework.  I really enjoy these sessions though and the SLP and I seem to have a pretty good rapport.  She also works closely with Dr. Merati, which is where I originally met her at my first appointment with him back in August.  I look forward to meeting up with her again in a couple weeks. 
Had my levothyroxine dose changed from 600mcg/day to alternating days of 600mcg and 300mcg.  I’ve noticed a difference in my chest, it’s not as tight all the time and my blood pressure dropped a bit.  However, now that it’s been several weeks for my body to adjust, I feel like I’m hungry ALL the time.  Nothing else has changed but my levothyroxine dose.  I’ll have to bring that up with my endo when I talk to her about the biopsy.  I get my blood checked again in a couple weeks, to see if I’m no longer being overly suppressed.  This is the first time I’ve had a change in my dose in a year, so now I know what it’s going to be like all the time I think.  Constantly looking for that right dose to make sure everything gets balanced, so goes the game of life.
A little more about this mass.  When I first started going to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in July, I had a CT Scan of my neck and chest.  There was a suspicious mass, and it appeared in the last CT Scan I had with Group Health, however, it hadn’t grown in size during that time.  I had an Ultrasound last month and it was there again, but again, it didn’t seem to have grown in size again.  While this is typically a good sign that it’s not Thyroid Cancer, it could be something else, or it could simply be nothing but lymph nodes that are stuck together.  She’s really disappointed that my previous insurance declined the PET scan that she ordered (which is why I got the CT Scan instead).  I mentioned to her that I recently changed insurance companies as of the first of the year, she seemed happy to hear that and was going to try to get them to approve a PET Scan.  I’m fascinated at the thought of being able to see the internal structure of my neck in that type of detail.  I haven’t heard anything since then, so I don’t know if she’s actually ordered it or not.  I also have no idea if they’ll approve it since my blood work came back as kinda normal (but overly suppressed).  She is having a hard time believing that there is no cancer in my body, with the fact of how spread throughout my neck it was.  Maybe Dr. Bayles was just that good.  Who knows!  She said that there is a very, extremely, small rare chance that the blood work is actually wrong.  She’s seen it before, and mentioned that my case is pretty unique under the circumstances.  I just want to get it done, so I can stop thinking about “what if”. 

Finally bought a bicycle last month after looking and thinking about it for about a year.  A 2013 DiamondBack Sport Tracer, in white.  I’ve ridden it a total of 15 minutes.  Fifteen. Minutes.  Then again, I haven’t ridden a bike in probably 20 years and my breathing problem and throat issue doesn’t help either.  I’ve got to start somewhere though and I look forward to better weather, which has certainly prevented more rides.

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