Musings: A Lump on My Neck

Out of nowhere…

Literally, this thing just decided to show up. In the midst of my knee chaos, my neck decides to add something to the mix.

I’ve never had a swollen lymph node. I don’t think I’ve ever had strep throat, I think. So when I went to bed on Thursday with a weird little cough, I didn’t think much of it. Our heater dries out our house, so I’m always coughing or have a dry throat when I wake up. But then Friday I had some signs that something might be wrong, but I didn’t connect it until after the fact. Then halfway through the work day I felt my throat and noticed I had a huge lump inside of my neck. I immediately thought I had swollen lymph nodes. Again, I’ve never experienced this so I had no idea where they actually were.

I called the on-call nurse at my PCP and she said to go to Urgent Care if it was still there over the weekend. Oh yeah, it was also a holiday weekend too — well for most people, not me though. So, it was still there by Sunday AM. So, I got up semi-early and went to the Urgent Care. Only to wait for the check-in person to be 5 minutes late to open the place and the provider to be 30 minutes late to see patients. That being said, the provider was really nice, but she couldn’t do much without an ultrasound. So, she started me on antibiotics, just in case it was something viral. She did guess it was a cyst, but couldn’t confirm it.

I did have a PCP appointment for my knee that following Tuesday, so I was going to wait until then to have them look at my neck. But to be better safe than sorry, I called in on Monday to see if they were open and they were. I wasn’t feeling the best, so I went for it. They squeezed me in late morning. Once there, I saw my regular PA and she confirmed that it was not in my lymph node. She immediately requested that I get an ultra sound of my neck and also sent me for more blood work.

Oddly enough, I was not worried that this mass in my neck would be cancerous or a tumor. I’m not sure why I was so confident, but I just was. Also, I kept joking that Dr. Pimple Popper jinxed me and that’s why this thing formed in my neck. Thank goodness I am addicted to her videos, because I actually knew about cysts and their sac walls and whatnot. So I kinda knew what to expect if it was a cyst.

My PCP again proved that they aren’t the best. I called to follow-up with the results that since they didn’t call me. The assistant to the PA told me it looked like a cyst and they were going to refer me to a Endocrinologist. But of course, the referral process takes them forever.  I also had to go in the next day for my knee, but the head doc did take a look at the cyst as well.

After many harassing phone calls, someone at the Endo’s office finally set-up my chart so that I could make an appointment to be seen. Apparently, at her office you cannot make an appointment until they create a chart for you. Such a worthless process for a patient that wants a lump off her neck. But the second lady I spoke with kindly made my chart as we spoke and got me in on Friday — one week from when I discovered the lump.

Friday comes around and I head to Dr. Ansari’s office for my appointment. Mind you, I’ve already been told this cyst, nicknamed Cindy, is about 3.5cm. Her PA did the initial stuff and then the Doc came in and took a look at it for herself. She said she wanted to aspirate it, which I already knew meant she wanted to take the stuff out/drain the cyst. She told me worst and best case scenario’s. Best case: drain the cyst and it comes out discolored and it won’t come back again. Middle Case: comes out clear and it needs to be tested, since it would be in the para-thyroid gland. Worst Case: It comes out out with red hints in it or it grows back after aspiration and then future drastic steps would have to be taken — see a specialist in SF or remove half of my thyroid.

Even after all that, additional blood work, and my aspiration procedure scheduled, I still wasn’t worried about it all. More than anything, I just wanted the thing gone. It was annoying, if I had to describe it. It was just in the way sometimes. I couldn’t scratch my back without hitting it, so annoying! HAHA! Anywho, I’d have to deal with it for another week.

Leading up to the procedure wasn’t a big deal at all. The procedure is out-patient and the Doc said I should be able to drive myself home after. She said it I could bring an ‘in case person’ if I preferred. I’m don’t faint when it comes to needles or blood, but I decided to see if one of the Parentals were available to come with me. Mom said she was, so she was my ‘in case person’.

Friday rolls around, we all got to leave work early because they were remodeling our offices. I grabbed some lunch and hung out, until Mama came over before we headed to the Doc’s office. Come to find out, my Endo is the same as my Dad’s. Dad goes to her for all of his Diabetes issues. Once checked in and co-pay paid, it wasn’t long before they called me back.

It was as easy and quick as they had lead it to be. There was a chair, which they reclined me all the way back. Because of the location of the cyst, I had to hang part of my head off the back of the top of the chair — so the cyst was easily accessible. From there they cleaned the cyst and prepped it for the procedure. She used a numbing spray, instead of injecting numbing stuff. I liked this better, one less needle in my neck! To ensure the Doc punctured the cyst properly, they used an ultrasound machine to see the cyst. Cindy in all her glory, 3.5cm of glory!

They had anticipated it would take at least one syringe worth of aspirating, which was 10ccs. Once Cindy went through that syringe, the Doc had the PA get another syringe. At this point she had gotten most of it all out, but there was still a little bit in there via the ultrasound screen. She was aggressive and said we should get the rest, which I agreed with. She re-prepped my neck and went in for the last bit. She got as much as she could, given that this was the last bit and apparently it was very thick and sticky (TMI, sorry). The secretions started to have a hint of pink, which meant that blood was coming out too. So she stopped and was satisfied with what she aspirated and the looks of the ultrasound.

Liquid protein. That’s what found its way through a gland wall and got stuck there to create the likes of Cindy the cyst! It was the brownish color, which if you remember, was a good thing. Now all we have to do is wait and hope that it does not grow back.

This procedure did not hurt. It was a little uncomfortable, because I could feel the needle go through my skin, but it didn’t hurt at all. Just a weird sensation. Also, you can’t talk or gulp while she’s aspirating, the later of which I did. Which was kinda painful. I was more annoyed at the spray she used to numb the area, because it was spraying everywhere – my face, my nose, my eyes, everywhere! Overall, it wasn’t anything anyone should generally be scared about.

Dr. Ansari and her PA did an amazing job with the aspiration. They were super accommodating to  my Mom and I, who was in the room to record the surgery so I could do a post on it, duh! She had Mom all up in the business, to get all the good pics and video details. She was really sweet to both of us and her bedside manner was professional, genuine, and caring. Even though I didn’t have a say in who I was referred too, I’m glad it was her. I’d recommend her to anyone who has a cyst on their neck.

It’s done. Hopefully. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t come back again.

One little thing I left out in this whole process was that I also had a spiritual healing/blessing done on my neck too. J’s Mom is very involved with John of God and always asks us to try it out with her. I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask for additional healing for my neck. I did this on the Wednesday prior to the procedure. Although I’m still skeptical about the whole thing, I did really appreciate what the healing brought forth. It was nice, a little different, but all in all, I left there feeling better than when I walked through the doors. I’m thankful I tried it out and appreciated what was relayed to me through the healing.

They don’t know why you get them, but some people do. Here’s to hoping that was the last of Cindy and now I can go on living my life cyst-free. 

I still believe all my Dr. Pimple Popper watching jinxed me! 

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