We had taken a leap and joined a church that we loved and still do, and had actually changed our religion to Episcopalian in front of God and everybody at the Cathedral of Saint Philip, in a huge ceremony after completing a very long and boring class, and we were all up in it. It was the summer of 2005. Mini Me had just turned seven and The Middle Child was three. The Baby was not even a figment of our imagination at this point. One Sunday, JC and I were asked to participate in the Episcopal Diocese Softball Tournament that was taking place that afternoon. Our church needed players. I was not a team player. Never have been a team player. Never will be a team player. I do not like team sports at all. I don’t really like teams. I don’t care for team work. I prefer to work alone, or maybe with one or two other people…but that is really neither here nor there. Nevertheless, I said okay, mostly because we were all up in it. The kids went along to watch. It was actually more fun than I thought it was going to be. We won the first game and moved on to the second, which was at a totally different location. I can remember thinking how nice this was–spending quality time with my husband and our children, playing a team sport together with our church family…..again, all because we were all up in it. So….the second game was almost over, and whoever was in charge of our team decided to make me play catcher. ME? CATCHER? Oh, HELL TO THE NO! All I had to do was look for the ball, they said. And catch it if it came my way, they said. Right. Whatever. It was a beautiful day. It was hot. It was sunny. Looking back on it, I was kind of behaving the way I have seen five year old’s behave in the outfield…..daydreaming…….gazing into outer space…thinking about what I was going to do later that day….that’s when I caught the ball. With my throat. I vividly remember it. It took my breath away. I fell to my knees. I thought I was going to start throwing up blood at any second. My life started flashing before my eyes and I just knew I was going to die right there, in front of JC and Mini Me and The Middle Child. People were rushing to me and they got me off of the field. After about 15 minutes, I really felt okay, but I sat out the rest of the game. The kids sat with me because, of course, the whole thing had scared them half to death. We decided that I should probably go to the hospital and get checked out–just to be on the safe side. The guy who had thrown the ball at me, um, I mean to me, was at the University of Georgia on a partial baseball scholarship. The ball had hit me hard. We went to the hospital and the doctor wanted to do a CT scan, just to make sure there was no internal bleeding. There was not. He said that if the ball had been a baseball, instead of a softball, it could have killed me. He told me that I needed to follow up with my doctor the next week, which I did. My doctor sent me for another scan. When it was over, the radiologist came out to speak to me. She said, “I am not supposed to tell you anything about your results. You know that, right?” I said I did know that. She continued, “You have something on the back side of your thyroid. You need to have it checked out. No doctor is going to be able to see it or feel it, just doing a normal exam. It needs to be biopsied. Don’t wait.” This news, of course, scared the shit out of me. I thanked her. I am still thanking her in my prayers at night, and I have no idea who she is.
As luck would have it, there was an endocrinologist on staff at my primary care doctor’s office, so I made an appointment. I did not like this man from the get-go. He was a complete and total ass. He said that indeed there was something on my thyroid, but it could be a hematoma from being hit by the softball. He said, “let’s give it three months and check it again. If it’s still there, we will biopsy it.” “Fine,” I said. I had a lot going on. I was teaching Art three days a week at a small, private school in Stone Mountain, and I had gone back to school and was commuting to Athens to UGA two days a week. I had decided that I needed to pursue a degree other than the PhD in Partying that I had earned back in 1991. That degree had gotten me nowhere as far as a career was concerned. I was also married and had Mini Me and the Middle Child. Around this time, Mini Me was keeping me on my toes with his hypochondria. The principal would call me on my cell phone and say, “Jack is in the office and his thumb hurts really badly and he says he needs for you to come and get him.” I would say, “Is his thumb black and blue and swollen?” The answer would be NO. I finally had to tell the school that unless Jack had thrown up, had diarrhea, had a fever of over 99.9, was bleeding profusely, had passed out, or had died, and there had been a witness that could verify any of those, not to call me–especially when I was in Athens! I have never been able to claim to have a boring life, nor have I tried…… I left my appointment with the endocrinologist and forgot about my follow up that would be in December…the same week as final exams. In fact, I never thought about it again, until I was going through some papers…in December, and the appointment card fell out into my hand. I looked at the date. It was for the next day! I had my French final that day, but I could actually make the appointment and then get to Athens and have plenty of time. So I went. And the thing on my thyroid, a nodule, was still there. So, the complete and total ass doctor did a biopsy, which hurt. He stuck a long, thin needle into my neck, using an ultrasound for a guide, and drew out some fluid–several times. It was not pleasant. He stuck a few Band-Aid’s on my neck and I left for my final exam. Since I had endured such trauma, I treated myself to lunch at the Outback Steakhouse when I arrived in Athens. I ate and studied and then went to my exam and never thought about the biopsy or the nodule again….until the day after Christmas when the complete and total ass called me on my cell phone. We were at my Daddy’s in Greenville, SC. My phone rang and when I answered it, the ass said, “this is Doctor So and So.” (I honestly cannot even remember his name now) “I have some good news and some bad news. Which do you want first?” I said, “Well, I guess hit me with the bad news first.” “Okay, the bad news is that you have thyroid cancer. The good news is that I found it!” I told you this man was a complete and total ass. I guess now maybe you believe me. After he said the C word, I did not really hear much else. We would have to schedule surgery…blah blah blah…..I shouldn’t worry…..blah blah blah. I was stunned. Cancer? Really?
The C Word Part 2 Coming Up Next on thepsychomother.com