How I Spent My Summer Vacation

After scads and scads of medical tests, I now know that I need to have surgery to remove a diseased parathyroid gland (who knew?) and its 99.9% BENIGN tumor barnacle from my neck. I feel as though this might be a prudent time to write a directive, of sorts. My Dr. told me that this can be a really risky surgery in that the area of the neck that will be scalpelized houses the nerves that control speech and swallowing. But that hardly ever happens. Oh, Goody!

My biggest fear is not being put under the anesthetic, the scar, the pain, or anything like that. No, my biggest fear is that I won’t be able to swallow or speak after the surgery and will therefore be unable to tell the nurse who is stuffing a feeding tube through my nose and into my stomach that I am lactose intolerant and that the last thing I need here after losing the ability to swallow or speak is diarrhea. So, make mine a tall SOY latte, pal.

I am a little nervous about this whole surgery thing. I would much rather be going in for a boob lift, or some other elective surgery that would garner good results that I could appreciate. I guess I will appreciate no longer having a calcium-leeching tumor on one of my parathyroid glands so I will have nice, strong bones and supposedly lots and lots of energy I don’t even know I don’t have. I have noticed I have been extremely sloth-like lately, but I didn’t know my tumor is so selfish that it is not only gnawing the calcium out of my bones, it’s also stealthily draining every ounce of energy out of me.

Getting Ready for the Big Day:

So I told Richard that I’m getting a facial and my hair colored this week before the surgery, and before I could tell him why he said, “Oh, in case you…”

“Die” I say? “No! I need to get my hair colored because it’s becoming Bozo Red from the sun, and the summer humidity is making my face look like it belongs to a teenager who is in dire need of massive amounts of Proactiv Revitalizing Toner, so I need to get a facial.”

Richard’s face turned all kinds of shades of red. “You think I want to look good in the casket” I yelled? He started to laugh uncontrollably in that way he has of laughing without making any sounds. It’s so weird. He just convulses himself into an internal seizure that defies human form. “Yeah,” I said. “I want to look good for my mom when she views the body. I want her to say, ‘Well, at least she has swanky new highlights and her skin is luminous.’” More internal seizuring from Richard. He’s just sick.

And it’s not like he even said anything like, “Oh, don’t worry. You’ll be fine.” He really thought that I really thought I would be a goner and he was just finishing my sentence for me. I am oh, so lucky. Maybe I’ll need to ask someone other than him to dress me for my funeral to ensure that my outfit will be all matchy matchy with my shoes.

It’s time for a little Medical Terminology:

The parathyroids are 4 little pea-sized glands at the base of your neck. We all have them. The reason they contain the word “thyroid” has nothing to do with the thyroid. “Para” means “next to”, so I’d like to offer a little advice to the medical community: RENAME THESE GLANDS! In fact, I’d like to start a campaign to permanently change the name of the parathyroid glands. Are you with me?

As far as I’m concerned, since their only relationship to the thyroid is proximity, to avoid confusion they should be called the para-Adam’s Apple glands, or the para-chute glands (chute, meaning esophagus – good one, huh?) I got one! I got one! How about the para-noids? Ha ha. I like that one the best.

The Scene at the Hospital:

I can see the hospital surgical waiting room now. My entire family will be there taking up every molecule of space on every sofa and chair. My parents, my sister, my husband, his parents, even strangers they’ve invited to sit and wait with them will be there. Waiting. I’ll be grateful to be the one in surgery so I won’t have to be there when they kick out other families who will want to sit in the waiting room as their loved ones have surgeries.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s very nice to have so many people who care about you. But after about half an hour, they will have brought in deli trays and will be watching Oprah. They’ll ask the volunteer in the purple jacket who mans the surgical waiting room phone if there’s any word on me yet. Am I in the recovery room yet?

They’ll grill the poor 87-year-old woman named something like Estelle who gives her time and energy to this thankless, unpaid job why there isn’t fresh coffee in the free coffee pot. “Is there Sweet N Low,” they’ll ask Estelle? “Equal just doesn’t taste the same, and Splenda. Who uses Splenda? Is there fresh creamer? The other one smells sour.”

Anyway, to keep myself occupied and not thinking about the surgery, I have asked a few friends to come over this weekend before the surgery Monday for a “Tumor Party.” I’ll serve tumor-looking foods such as meatballs, olives, beans, and, as my friend Jess suggested, jelly doughnuts.

May you always have healthy parathyroid glands, and I hope you are enjoying your summer vacation. You want to eat some meatballs now, right?

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