Thymoma Part 5: Hello Doogie Howser, MD

Soooo… My appointment with the thoracic surgeon did not go as planned.

My PLAN was the appointment would be uneventful and he’d send me home, telling me I had nothing to worry about!

Instead, I was sent home with a surgery date.

It was official.   I had suspected thymoma. He went over my MRI images in great detail… I couldn’t deny it.

But let me back up for a second… I have to tell you about my surgeon because that  became a story in itself!  Once I heard there was a possibility of needing surgery, I did lots of research. Lots of evenings were spent on google after my daughter and husband went to bed.  I did my research and learned a full Sternotomy was not the only way to remove thymoma.  I wanted to avoid a full Sternotomy!  I wanted the least invasive surgery possible. I wanted to find a surgeon who specialized in doing robotic thymectomies!

So, I found the perfect surgeon!  I’ll call him Doogie Howser, MD because he seriously looks like he’s 12 years old!  Lol!

I was thinking maybe it was just his photo on the hospital website but when he walked into the room I almost laughed. He looked like he could be my child!  But his credentials were awesome and he was an expert at robotic thymectomies so I was going to trust Doogie with my life!

I nicknamed his assistant surgeon “Dr. Belt Loops” because I immediately noticed he missed a beltloop on his pants with his belt.  Was this oversight a reflection of his attention to detail in the OR, too!?  This might be an issue if Doogie passes out, in the middle of my surgery, he needs a nap (because he looks so young and might still need naps! Ha!) or if he was otherwise rendered incompetent to finish my surgery!  Hmmm…Dr. Belt Loops  would be responsible for putting me back together and sewing me up if Doogie goes down!  What if he didn’t stitch me up completely and my lung fell out?  I’m serious!
Nah, I looked past the belt loop oversight and decided I just had to trust Doogie would last through the surgery and not worry about Dr. Belt Loops!

The worst part was facing scary risks and a lot of unknowns…which I hate!  We would not know if it attached to my heart or lungs or any other place until  Dr. Doogie opened me up and started poking around!
Doogie so bluntly pointed out that my tumor was sitting right on top of my heart so there was a strong possibility it could’ve grown into the lining of my heart…which would mean a full Sternotomy! As in crack my chest open… I was woozy thinking about that possibility. I wanted the least invasive procedure so I could recover quicker! I have a life I needed to get back to and a family who needs me! That’s why I chose Dr. Doogie.  He’s an expert at robotic thymectomies. I hadn’t thought about the possibility of needing to switch to a Sternotomy after starting a robotic procedure.  Now I was scared.

I sat in my uncomfortable seat, heart pounding…hands wringing in my lap…and I listened to Dr. Doogie explain thymoma, the risks of surgery (which I dismissed immediately because there was no way I’d die from an uncontrollable artery bleed out…and possibility of needing chemo and/or radiation after surgery if there were cancerous cells found outside the tumor.

Overall, I was really in shock and didn’t think to ask a lot of things I later wish I’d asked!
I sat quietly and just nodded and said ok over and over again as the surgeon spoke… well…until I freaked out on him when he said I couldn’t wear a bra for a long time after surgery due to pain…πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. Lol!!! I was suddenly flung back into the moment and I almost jumped out of my dear!  I was like “WHAT?!?! Have you seen THESE??? I can’t NOT wear a bra!”

Poor Doogie… He didn’t know if he should laugh or run?  Dr. Belt Loops was over in the corner laughing with his face hidden behind his file folder, trying not to make eye contact with me.  I clearly did not have a normal response they were used to hearing. Lol!!!

Now, I was officially panicking…

…Over not being able to wear a stupid bra!

Really!?!

I realize now that I freaked about the one thing I knew I could relate to/envision exactly what it meant!

Big “girls” plus no bra…equals not pretty.

As for the surgery?  I’ve never had a thymectomy before!  So, I had no clue what to even freak out about aside from what I was told!  So, I laid all my anxiety on being braless…

Then he showed me where the 5 incisions would go and he poked me by my right armpit/side of my breast.  That’s where the camera will go, I think he said…then he paused and looked at me very seriously.  “Are your breasts real?”

“Um…YES!!! ” (What the hell, Doogie? Didn’t your mom teach you manners? Lol)

“Ok good, because I don’t want to puncture anything.”

Ok then!  That’s settled!  Lol no risk of deflated breasts.

Picking a date was an unnecessary ordeal…I was throwing out all kinds of silly excuses for every single date he offered to me…and the date kept getting further and further out!  He reeled me back in and we chose a date in early October.  I’d be patient number three after his return from a two-week vacation.  Was that a good thing or a bad thing?  I settled on the fact that he’d be well rested and happy.

I lived to tell about it, so I suppose it was a good choice!

I was also thinking I’d get another 6 hours annual leave and 4 additional hours of sick leave in the bank by waiting a couple weeks longer!

After the appointment, I walked slowly to my car half dazed, deep in thought and worry.  I got in my car and started crying. I texted my husband and a friend.  Somebody, snap me out of this.  Tell me it’ll be ok!

How could this be happening!?? I don’t want surgery. But I also don’t want cancer. So, it was a no brainer. I needed surgery.

The date was set.  The countdown had officially started.

As I drove home, I realized my biggest fear at that moment was not cancer.  My biggest fear? Telling my daughter and seeing her scared little face looking at me for reassurance. I decided I was going to put it off as long as possible. . .

I was scared.  But, I can also tell you this…I was definitely in FIGHT mode. I was NOT going to let this stupid tumor break me…

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2 thoughts on “Thymoma Part 5: Hello Doogie Howser, MD

  1. Can’t wait to read part 6. I’m home recovering from sternal thymectomy. My recovery is hard and I’m in another flare to boot. I had thymoma too. Sucks but we did it! I know – EVENTUALLY- things will be back to feeling “normal”. I love your writing and your inspiration. Please post soon

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    • I’m so glad you’re enjoying reading my blog πŸ™‚
      I’m sorry you have to go through this, too. I can tell you I feel great now! I’m almost exactly one year post-surgery and a time when I thought I’d never feel better…I had horrid nerve pain after surgery and I was so miserable. I thank God it finally subsided and I could function again :). But all that will be in blogs to come!!! I promise! I have “the night before surgery” blog post in draft. I need to start drafting surgery day and beyond posts, too.
      I wish you the very best and a speedy recovery! Hang in there! I will keep you company πŸ™‚ ❀

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