About a week after surgery was the post-op visit to remove the stitches and I saw one of the residents for that and it was about a week later on Jan 3, 2012 that I followed up with Dr. Song. He explained that all that was found on the pathology was nothing but scar tissue; he felt that it was lying on top of the laryngeal nerve under very extensive scar tissue, as he had explained to me while I was in the hospital. So now the plan is to rescan me again two months to see what that shows. I really have to commend Dr. Song as he did a remarkable job using the original incision for the second neck dissection. The current scar is much smaller than the original scar and now you can hardly even tell. I must admit that I have some pretty talented surgeons!
One major downside is that he has restricted me to only light cardio for two weeks. Are you freaking kidding me? I was able to go back to the gym much sooner the last time when I had the first surgery. I really don’t like it when people mess with my gym time/activity, my family knows all too well just how unpleasant I can be when that happens! He says that it is for my own protection, to prevent any internal bleeding from occurring. I guess I will go along with it even though I am NOT happy about it! Really, what choice do I have? However, I don’t need any more complications. When someone is used to running nearly every day and then you have to suddenly stop running that is a hard pill to swallow, it was like telling me not to breathe. The next two weeks watching others run was really hard and I wanted to run so badly I could just taste it. When I finally was able to run, that felt so awesome, like the best run I’ve ever had and now it feels good to be back in the game!
I had the neck dissection on Dec 19, 2011 at the University of Colorado hospital, but little did I know of the problems which were about to surface. I went in and right at the start of the surgery they encountered very extensive scar tissue. They scrapped all the area on the left side removing all the lymph nodes under ultrasonic guidance. All the frozen sections showed nothing but scar tissue. They could not find the little bugger! Dr. Song felt that it was lying on top of the laryngeal nerve embedded under extensive scar tissue. He peeled back all the scar tissue that he could, but he just could not get to it without causing injury to my left recurrent laryngeal nerve, which would create a whole other list of problems for me.
Dr. Song left the OR to talk with my husband and explained the situation and said that the only way to get complete clearance was to take the nerve. So after discussing this for some time with Dr. Song, the decision was finally made to leave the nerve intact and abort the rest of the procedure, as the nerve was still functioning. It was devastating to me to learn that they were unable to contain the nodule. They were in there more than five hours trying to find this stupid thing!
When I had woke up from surgery, I had trouble with my left eye as it kept drooping downward and it was a struggle just to keep it open which has been a continuing ongoing problem. Another issue occurred shortly following surgery. I remembered feeling very light-headed and sweating and then thought to myself, well dummy you just had major surgery of course you are not feeling in the best shape! However, there was I reason I was feeling that way. Somehow going from the OR up to the room they had me in, my IV was not connected correctly, or had become disconnected and so there I lay with blood leaking from my IV. There was blood everywhere and I was soaked from top to bottom. Being that I just had surgery they could not move me too much, especially around my neck area. The nurses had to do it very meticulously moving me only one side at a time removing my gown, removing the sheets and so on. I don’t think that I have seen so much blood in all my life!
I saw the head endocrinologist, Dr. Bryan Haugen who came in along with Dr. Song and many of his residents. Dr. Song was examining my eye and said that it should be temporary and I believe that he called it Horner’s syndrome. Why did this have to happen, why couldn’t Dr. Song find this blasted thing? I almost wished he would have just taken the damn nerve; at least this cancer would be out of me! I only had one drain in place being it was only on the left side and that was removed before I left the hospital on December 21, 2011. I was glad to be home in time before Christmas.
I called Dr. Lund the next morning and left a message with him as I wasn’t scheduled to see him for three more months and explained to the staff that I had a recurrence that I needed to talk with him about. He called me back and he was able to fit me in for an appointment the same day, so I rushed back to Denver. This is a trip which usually takes ninety minutes to get there from where I live, but I think I made it in less than an hour. Dr. Lund did explain the same options to me in having surgery or the alcohol ablation. He explained that the alcohol ablation is a new technique where they inject ethanol alcohol into the suspected nodule which kills the cancerous cells. It is a fairly new technique that the University is using. He explained further that I really should contemplate what was best for me, but he seemed to be leaning more towards surgery as being the best option. However, he said that the decision was mine, whether to do surgery or the alcohol ablation procedure and that he would support me either way.
At this point I was more confused than ever on what to do and I decided to contact Dr. Bentz, just to get his thoughts on all of this. When I was able to get in touch with him I had a long conversation with him as to which would be the best option for me. I wanted to make an informed decision, by obtaining his opinion and feedback on all of this. After speaking with Dr. Bentz, I felt that surgery was probably the best route to go and feeling more confident with that decision. He has always had such a calming effect on me; it was such a comfort being able to talk with him, as it has been a difficult transition losing him as my doctor. He has been there every step of the way and to have that contact come to such an abrupt halt it was hard for me to deal with, even though I know that I am in very capable hands now.
A few days later after speaking with Dr. Bentz, I had a follow-up appointment for surgery with Dr. Song. I was hoping that he could get the surgery done before the end of the year as I had already met my cap for the year and all of our insurance claims were now being paid 100%. Dr. Song, being the most wonderful doc that he is, did his magic and actually pulled it off in arranging his schedule to get it done before the end of the year! I was so glad that would be one less thing to worry about.