They don’t tell you that over 7 years later, when you get your first horrible throat infection, that it might take hold right where they ripped out the goiter growing ever so slowly in your neck. The one that housed cancer. Incubated fear.
They don’t tell you how you’ll feel. They can’t really. They can’t tell you how the panic will creep in – how even though you know that it’s the phlegm running down the back of your throat, just the fact that the ache is situated down along your swollen lymph nodes is enough to take you back.
That summer you experienced your first, unadulterated middle-of-the-day panic attack. You couldn’t breathe and were prescribed Xanax for the first time. That summer you totaled your car when trying to escape the crazy-in-your-head for a weekend – only a week before surgery.
After surgery you waited almost two weeks to find out that it was cancer. That taking out the goiter and your thyroid was a good idea. You learned that you’d have to be careful to suppress any throat tissue for the rest of your life – taking monitored doses of synthetic thyroid hormone at levels that can suppress tissue growth by keeping your body hyperthyroidic. Now your hands shake. Your heart beats quickly. You’re always warm. Your sleep is often disturbed. You’re always thirsty. And you’re always tired.
And now the ache has been with you for eleven days – sitting in the same damned place that goiter sat. You want to rip out your throat. You want to cry. You take 800mg Ibuprofen every 6 hours and 1000mg Tylenol every 8 hours willing the pain to stop. It’s not stopping. And so you take a Xanax. You watch mindless television. You play with your dog. You clean the bathroom – again. And wipe down the kitchen counters. Finally, you write. Hoping to understand yourself a little more thereafter.
They don’t tell you that over 7 years later, when you get your first horrible throat infection, that it might take hold right where they ripped out the goiter growing ever so slowly in your neck. The one that housed cancer. Incubated fear. They don’t tell you that you’ll feel afraid. Worry that cancer’s come back to visit. Wonder if you’re a survivor. A thriver. Or just a victim-in-waiting.