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Ultrasound of Thyroid – Biopsy and Choosing Surgeon

Ultrasound of Thyroid – Biopsy and Choosing Surgeon

I went into my primary and convinced my doctor to have the proper blood work done and that leads to having an ultrasound sound on my thyroid on October 10, 2012.  Read Entry 1 Here

October 10th – I Arrived For My Ultrasound 

I was directed back into a room with minimal lighting and directed to lay flat on my back with a neck roll under my head.  The tech warmed up the gel and used an ultrasound wand to push firmly over my neck.  The entire time she was taking pictures and measurements that showed up on a computer screen.  First, she did the right side of the thyroid and then repeated the process on the left.

When she was going over the left side she started to ask me questions.  Like if I notice anything different in my neck.  I said, “Yes, the side you are currently on has a lump.”  She asked if I knew how long it had been there and if it was creating any problems. I answered, ” I noticed the lump in February of this year and I have been having trouble swallowing.”  The tech told me that she couldn’t give me any answers but the ultrasound would be forwarded to my primary care doctor.  If I had not heard back from him within two days, I should give him a call.

The Call

I left the office and headed for home.  I had just walked in the door and hung up my keys and dropped my purse on the counter when the phone rang.  I answered it  “Nikki, this is Doctor Luke.  I just received your ultrasound results and you are correct.  You have an extremely large growth in the left lobe of your thyroid.  The growth has pushed your windpipe over and exceeds under your collarbone.  It appears to all housed within the left lobe.  You also have lymph nodes that are inflamed, which scares me a bit.”   I gave the only response I could think of at the time.  ” I knew it.”  “Sometimes people just know something is wrong.  I am glad you listened to me and we completed the ultrasound but now what do I do?”  Doctor Luke replied, “I suggest you look around for an experienced surgeon, maybe one that has a specialty in thyroid cancer.  Please, understand I am not stating you have thyroid cancer.  We can only go on what we know for certain and that is you have a large growth, with lymph nodes involved. I would be happy to look around and suggest a surgeon or leave that part up to you.”  I told Doctor Luke I would be searching through the internet and also through word of mouth.  I would call him back if I located a specialist or for his referral list.

Searching For a Surgeon

That day I searched the Internet for surgeons that specialized in both thyroid removal and cancer.  I basically had two choices Madison and Milwaukee.  When I was doing my research I went by patient reviews, education and experience and any awards the surgeon had won.  I thought I had found a surgeon out of Madison.  Turns out my health insurance did not cover the surgeon.  Then, stumbled onto Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, WI.  I typed in thyroid cancer and found Doctor Douglas Evans. His patient reviews were outstanding, all 5-star reviews. The awards he had won through medical science and research were remarkable and that he was ranked in the top 3% of surgeons in the US. He won my vote!  I called his office and asked if my doctor forwarded my medical records if he would look over the results and give me his opinion.  The office personnel was outstanding.  They answered my questions and gave me a direct line to bypass the receptionists for further questions.


The photo above is Doctor Evans

I called my primary doctors office and asked them to forward all my records to Milwaukee.  Within 3 hours I received a call back from Doctor Evans office stating he would like to set up some more tests.  Bloodwork, an ultrasound with biopsy, chest x-ray and also to meet with me after the results were in.

More Tests

October 16th – I arrived early in the morning.  I had a blood draw.  They took 6 vials of blood.  Then I was off to get an x-ray of my chest and finally the biopsy.

The biopsy is what everyone is nervous about.  Rightfully so!  I had to see an ultrasound tech first.  Again, it was measured. I found out that the growth was 6 cm x 4cm x 5cm.  That is a pretty good size when it is under your collarbone and around your windpipe.

The Biopsy

Then it was time for the biopsy.  I was sweating!  I went to another room where I laid on a cold gurney, looking up at bright round operating lights and a tile ceiling.

There were 5 people in the room with me.  Each was wearing surgical gear, glasses and gloved up.  Out of the 5 in the room, only 2 did the biopsy.  They rubbed some kind of liquid to sterilize the neck and gave me shots to numb the area. I watched as the doctor picked up the needle.  They had to get 4 good samples, which meant stabbing me at least 4 more times besides the 3 shots for numbing.  I could see the ultrasound screen on the wall that directed the doctors were to place the needle.  When I heard the doctor holding the needle question the doctor behind him on where was the best place to insert that needle, I got really scared.  Right then, it was not the needle that was going to be inserted into my neck multiple times that was giving my heart palpitations it was the fact it was an intern doing it.  I had a student doing my biopsy.  Those 3 additional people in the room were students, watching and learning.  From watching Grey’s Anatomy, that the student performing the biopsy was the lucky student of the day. I swallowed hard and asked the intern how many biopsies have you done? He smiled and said this isn’t my first.  Ok, I am the second patient of the day.  So, is this his second?  That was the only thought going through my head now.

I remember closing my eyes and wishing to wake up from this dream.  The numbing shots hurt, like no tomorrow.  The biopsy needles being inserted can be felt even though you are numb.  You can still feel some pain.  It is not tremendous pain.  Just discomfort.  My muscles hurt and I had slight bruising around the numbing area and biopsy area for the next two days.  Believe it or not, that part bothered me more then the whole procedure did.  I have this great knack for tensing up all muscles and trying to push into the gurney to relieve some of the frustration and pain.

After the biopsy was finished I thought what a wonderful teaching hospital.  How else does one learn?  It may have not been going through my mind at the time I was laying on the table, though.  After the fact, I thought maybe, that doctor will be the next great surgeon. They need to start somewhere.

Hallway to the cancer center at Froedtert

On To See The Surgeon 

I waited about 30 minutes to see him.  Once in his office, we went over my blood work.  Surprise all of my blood metabolism vitamins were out of whack.  For starters, I was dangerously low on Vitamin D and phosphorous. He also gave suggestions for additions to other vitamins that my body needed to restock.  Then it was onto looking at my neck.  He felt my neck, made me swallow with and without taking a drink of water and then I think the worst part of the day came. He had to check my vocal cords.

The was the most uncomfortable experience.  He took a scope and coated it with numbing gel and stuck it up my nose and then asked me to keep swallowing.  Then speak.  Fun stuff there!  Guess they have to check your vocal cords to make sure the roughness in your voice isn’t permanent.  Which, he said I should regain all of my voice back.

We wouldn’t know the results of my lymph node and growth biopsy for a while but either way, my left side of my thyroid was coming out. The growth was too large and was interfering with my swallowing ability.

So October 3rd was my mom’s birthday.  That was the date that started the blood work and scheduling of my first ultrasound.  The date for my scheduled surgery was November 14th, my dad’s birthday.

Now I had a few weeks to start of my thyroid medication (small dose 50 mg) and get my Vitamin D (50,000 mg weekly) back in check before my thyroid exorcism.

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