Planning for Surgery

During my April video appointment with the Endocrinologist, we reviewed test results from my March visit. He told me that my parathyroid levels and calcium levels were fluctuating but were still high. He then stated, because of my age, he strongly suggests we proceed with surgery to remove the adenoma. I asked if this could be the cause of my continual fatigue and hoarseness, and he said that I shouldn’t be as fatigued as I was given my blood levels, and my hoarseness was probably from my asthma or allergies. I then reminded him that I’ve had these symptoms since COVID and asked if they could still be a result of the virus, and he said that he had not heard of symptoms lasting this long and believed I would get better after surgery. He then explained that he was ordering nuclear imaging of my parathyroid so they could pinpoint the location of the tumor. This would let the surgeon know the exact point of entry for surgery and about how long the incision will need to be. He also ordered a Dexa Scan to see if I was losing bone density.

In May, I had another follow-up with the Endocrinologist.  Once again, I felt as if I walked away with very little resolve. We reviewed test results which I see as soon as they’re available in the portal, and whatever I don’t understand, I ask Google! He told me that my amount of bone loss was not an area of concern and that the imaging clearly showed the adenoma. Lastly, he told me that he would put in a referral for me to speak with the surgeon. Put in a referral??!? It’s been 4-weeks since our last visit, and at least three since you received my latest results; why haven’t you already spoken to a surgeon?!!! Is what I wanted to say. As the old folks would say, I was hot as fish grease. I felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously. First, you really haven’t done anything regarding my case in months and you disregard how I tell you I’m physically feeling! Not to mention, I had previously brought up my lagging symptoms of fatigue and hoarseness to my primary doctor, and she deferred to the Endocrinologist. At this point, COVID seemed to be an afterthought and the tumor is their sole focus. I felt like my concerns weren’t being heard and was just ready to move on.

Fortunately, I was able to set up a video appointment with a surgeon within the next couple of days. Not even two minutes into our appointment he asks, “What’s going on with your voice?” Aaaahhhhh, it was as if angels were singing. Could someone hear me? I mean, not really, because I was hoarse, but you know what I mean. I let him know the hoarseness has been a concern of mine, which no other doctor seemed to be worried about. Dr. L on the other hand was very concerned.  He said that he had looked over my bloodwork and imaging and knew that surgery was needed, but we should not proceed before learning what was going on with my voice. The reason being is that the surgery would be very close to my vocal cords and there was already a slim chance of total loss of voice if the vocal cords are touched during surgery. I also mentioned my continued weakness and fatigue and what other doctors had said up to now. He then explained that everyone’s body is different and whether my symptoms were from COVID or the adenoma, bloodwork alone could not dictate how I should be feeling… WOW! For the first time in months, I felt like someone was listening.

We talked a little more about what to expect during surgery and the vocal procedure that was needed. And then he dropped a bomb… Dr. L told me that he was not currently operating. YIKES!!! All the joy I gained during this visit was immediately halted. Thankfully, he had a solution. He recommended a surgeon who he holds in high regard for both the vocal procedure and the surgery I needed, Dr. Smith. He even planned to email him directly to get the process started. I was finally leaving a doctor’s visit feeling like I was getting somewhere.

The next week was spent trying to set up an office visit for the vocal procedure. However, with new appointments and doctors comes new challenges. The surgeon, Dr. L recommended was in such high demand that he didn’t have an opening for the vocal procedure until June 28th.  Mind you, that’s more than a month away, and I can’t schedule surgery until after this procedure.  I emailed Dr. L and received a call from Dr. Smith’s team. They told me Dr. Smith had received an email from Dr. L stating that I needed to be seen immediately and asked them to call and figure out how they could work me in. Over the next few days, Dr. Smith’s office team and the nurse at the surgery center worked together to get all my pre- and post-appointments scheduled for my vocal procedure through surgery. The best part, surgery was scheduled for June 24th, which means everything else was scheduled before. Thank You Lord!!! While surgery and recovery wouldn’t be completed by my son’s camp, things finally seemed to be on track, and I was grateful.

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Join Areia Cobb every 1st & 3rd Tuesday of the month as she shares her road to recovery from COVID-19 and how being a COVID-19 Long Hauler is affecting every aspect of her life; as a wife, mother of two active boys and a working professional.  It’s our hope that these journal entries provide hope, inspiration and information as you or your loved one travels your COVID-19 long haul.  

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