My Looming Thyroid Surgery – When it Hurts to Sing, There’s an Issue

Summer 2020, my last biopsy. Without freezing, three needles. The needles are super thin, but the last one felt like a porcupine sat on my neck.

“We have your surgery date.”

I’d just returned from a pre-op appointment with my head and neck surgeon when a nurse called with a surgery date. So much for waiting six weeks to a month.

On March 11, 2021, my surgeon will be removing half of my thyroid, and a golf ball sized benign nodule. Actually, I’m glad this is happening quickly, because then I can have my urgent, “let’s remove Tammy’s uterus” operation. It just seems like everyone wants a piece of me.

The date threw me for a loop though. The one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID a pandemic. While it’s not a celebration, if someone doesn’t toss confetti when I leave the OR, I’m going to be miffed.

During the pre-op appointment, my surgeon was explaining the surgery and they asked, “Do you happen to be a singer?”

“Actually, I used to be a country singer,” and I explained that my throat started to hurt when I hit higher notes – and eventually I couldn’t hit them – and I had to stop singing. The last time I sang in front of a large crowd was 2007.

The nodule has been pressing on my “singing nerve” – or the superior laryngeal nerve for years. Once it’s removed, my voice will either remain the same (hurty, strainy, and off pitch) or worsen (no idea). I’m determined to strengthen my voice – for singing, acting, and – oh, yeah, what I went to school for – reporting. I can’t interview people on a whisper. So I’m blowing the dust off those singing exercises Ray St. Germain taught me years ago.

The golf ball is also pressing against my windpipe. The unhealthy side of my thyroid is acting as a mother ship, shooting off nodules. I have more, but they’re too small to remove. Once the mother ship is removed, there’s a strong chance my thyroid will correct itself and I can nix that medication like the majority of people who have this surgery. There was false hope medication would stop the mother ship from having little babies. I have tiny itsy nodules and one the size of a marble, far from the thyroid.

Summer 2016. Inconclusive biopsy results? Story of my life.

There could’ve been a trigger. In the days of yore, and I had CT scans – I’m a two time brain tumour survivor. Radiation exposure is a possible reason. Who knows, maybe the nodule is a ball of plutonium. Better, they’ll let me keep the plutonium. Technically, it’s mine. It came out of me.

Or there may not be a reason. Perhaps this would’ve happened regardless of a CT. It’s life, and you have to be logical. Yesterday, I withdrew from my undergrad course. After a short pity party, I realized there wasn’t another choice. I’d missed two classes because of appointments – and this week and next are a write off. I’ve been accepted by the Faculty of Arts for the summer term, but I’m not even thinking about criminology at the moment.

I need to concentrate on my health.

I could view this as either a negative or positive. And I choose positive. I spent last summer hauled up in the apartment, watching 48 Hours and Dateline – and 1980s movies. Who doesn’t love The Karate Kid and Dirty Dancing?

After both surgeries – I can have a summer. Hopefully fewer restrictions, I can go on trips. Real trips. Overnighters. Solo Griswold-style.

If no further restrictions are lifted? And we’re still dealing with COVID in August 2021. Or the numbers increase?

I’ll be grateful that I already had my surgeries.

And I’m serious about the confetti.