what an fna biopsy is like

When I found out that I would need to have an FNA (fine needle aspiration) biopsy on my thyroid nodule, the first thing I did was try to find some personal stories. There are plenty of medical sites that document the procedure, but I’d hoped to find out what it was really like for someone. So I thought I’d write up what it was like for me, just in case anyone else is looking for that kind of information.

First off, although I have no fear of needles, the thought of having one poke my throat several times was incredibly nerve-wracking. I had two weeks to get myself used to the idea, but I’ll be honest — even though I knew what to expect, and the nurse had called before my appointment and gone through it all with me, I was still a little shakey in the waiting room. The good news is that the nervous anticipation was the worst part of the procedure.

The first thing I did was change out of my top and put a gown on. Some places don’t require this, but I appreciated the fact that no one wanted to get Betadine on my shirt 🙂 Then I went into the room and the nurse used the ultrasound to locate the nodule. This would make it easier once the doctor came in the room. She explained the whole procedure to me again and talked to me about her own thyroid issues (she had a total thyroidectomy, so she’d been through this particular procedure before). It was nice to relate to her on that level and it put me further at ease. I signed some paperwork while she got the doctor.

There were actually two doctors in the room during the procedure. One handled the biopsy itself, the other was making the slides. I never even saw the second doctor, heh! Anyway… the doctor who was performing the FNA introduced himself and asked if I had any questions (I didn’t). The pillow was adjusted so that it was positioned under my back and shoulders and my head was touching the bed/chair/whateveryoucallit. They complimented me on my “nice, long neck” which made me laugh, but apparently long necks make it easier on everyone so hey — glad I could do my part! My nodule is on the right side, so the doctor had me turn my head slightly to the left. After this I kept my eyes closed, but I couldn’t have really seen anything anyway.

The doctor then let me know that he was going to inject Lidocaine, a local anesthetic to numb the area. It pinched a little, but it was certainly no worse than a shot of Novacaine. I thought he’d have to wait a few minutes for the anesthetic to kick in, but all of a sudden he said, “OK, the first one’s done. Relax for a moment.” I didn’t even feel it. I was more aware of the next two sticks, but I can’t say they hurt. I could feel a tiny bit of pressure, but it wasn’t bothersome. The whole thing took between 5-10 minutes and then it was over. I got a Band-Aid on my boo-boo and a self-adhesive purple ice pack on my neck. The nurse joked, “Next time, you really should schedule these things better so that you can wear a turtleneck and not show off that crazy purple ice pack.” 😉

I kept the ice pack on for about 20 minutes and then it was no longer cold so I took it off. I never put it back and didn’t have any swelling around the area. Last night it felt slightly sore — like a bruise — but when I woke up this morning everything felt normal. It looks like I have a scratch on my neck, but that’s about it!

The radiology center I went to does a lot of FNAs, so I have to imagine that made a difference. My experience was very positive and if you ever need to have it done, there is nothing to worry about! So now I just have to wait for the results. Let’s hope that brings good news, as well.

ent appointment

I just realized that I never wrote here about my ENT appointment. I guess because I updated the people who seem interested via e-mail and Facebook, I just didn’t really think about it. All in all, the appointment made me feel more at ease. He could not feel the nodule, so he gave me orders for an ultrasound-guided FNA biopsy (which I scheduled for July 6th). He looked at my thyroid through a scope (yeah, that was weird!), and said that it’s obviously inflamed, but I really need to see an endocrinologist to help me sort through my hormone issues. That’s what I’d asked my primary care doctor last week! Sigh… At any rate, the ENT gave us the impression that it’s unlikely the nodule is cancerous, but if it is, that half of the thyroid will be removed and in all likelihood I won’t need to worry about anything else. He said that he thinks it’s more likely hormone-related. Let’s hope the results of the biopsy will give us a definitive answer.

I did find a local endocrinologist, but could not get an appointment until late August because she’s currently out on maternity leave. I did call one other office, but got a bad vibe from the staff. They would not allow me to make an appointment. She said I’d need to have my doctors fax over all of my labs/ultrasounds/biopsy results, and then the doctor would review them, and then they’d call me to make an appointment. Perhaps that’s standard procedure in some specialist’s offices, but I didn’t like it. Who knows how long it would take to have my file reviewed? And what if they don’t deem me “important” enough and don’t call for months? I felt more comfortable scheduling a visit with this other doctor. The way I look at it, if I have little to worry about, then I’ll be fine until the end of August. And if the FNA shows something that requires immediate attention, I’ll find a doctor down in Westchester County (about an hour away, where I saw the ENT) and go from there.

So that’s where I am! I’ll spare you from my boring thyroid issues for a couple weeks. I’ve scheduled everything I can, so there’s little to do but wait and show up at my appointments. Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers. I do believe they work!!!

so, the results…

Well, my doctor called me today with the results of yesterday’s ultrasound and the blood work they ran on Monday. I’m still trying to process everything, but the bottom like is that I need to go to a specialist to get my thyroid issues sorted out. My doctor is concerned because the u/s showed that I have a single nodule that measures 2 cm. Single nodules, according to the doctor and what I’ve read, are more likely to be cancerous, so I will need to have it biopsied.

My husband’s aunt worked at Phelps Hospital in Tarrytown for over 30 years, so I looked to her for an ENT recommendation. Why an ENT over an Endocrinologist? I asked the same thing, and an ENT ultimately performs the biopsy. I have an appointment on Monday Wednesday*. Unfortunately Drew has to be out of town for work, but my MIL is going to watch the boys and Drew’s aunt is coming to the appointment with me. The doctor will go over all my labwork and discuss things with me before I make an appointment for the biopsy.

Needless to say, I am a little nervous, and yes scared. I’ve had several good cries today. Although thyroid cancer is uncommon, anytime the “c-word” comes up I think it’s natural to worry. So, if you are so inclined I would really appreciate any prayers you might offer up for me. It’s probably a condition that is easily managed, but there’s always that chance. Nevertheless, I am staying positive and I’ll wait until I meet with the specialist to get more information.

* Update: I had to reschedule my appointment because I forgot Jake had a field trip and would have to miss school. Who thought a 7 year old boy would be so upset, crying, over missing a visit to the FDR Historic Site? Anyway, he was so torn up I couldn’t stand it. Now he just has to miss a playdate, but apparently that is a better trade-off in his eyes.

bleh :-(

I hate to say it, but that’s how I feel today. Bleh. I have a horrible case of poison ivy that has resulted in an infection on my left foot. I went to the doctor’s this morning and yes, I got prescriptions for a steroid (to make the poison ivy go away) and an antibiotic (to make the infection go away), but I also had to deal with the results of my blood work last week.

See, I decided this was the year I’d start going to the doctor regularly. I’ve been blessed with good health and have only gone maybe three or four times in the last 10 years. I figured it would be a good idea to have baseline numbers for my sugar, cholesterol, etc. The good news is that those things are all fine and dandy. The bad news is that my thyroid is out of whack. It is “sluggish” as my doctor put it. So, I had more blood drawn to test for more specific levels. She felt around my neck and noticed that my thyroid felt enlarged so tomorrow I’m having an ultrasound to check it out. I might have a goiter. A goiter! I’m sorry but that makes me think of a circus sideshow. I’m 34. Isn’t that a little young for a goiter? Don’t you have to be really old for that? Sigh…

The good thing it that I guess if I start taking medication the levels should balance out. The bad news is that I have to start taking medication. Such a bummer. I’m hopeful that the tech can give me some indication of how ye olde thyroid looks when she scans it tomorrow, but I have a follow-up visit in two weeks, at which point I am sure I will necessitate one of those Sun.-Sat. pill boxes. I guess it will make it easier to remember to take my vitamins.

After I picked up my poison ivy/plague medicine I decided to pick up another “prescription” — some rocky road ice cream. I think some chocolate therapy coupled with a dumb comedy will help.