Thanks again to the many, many folks who have written and called with thoughts,prayers, good wishes and dirty jokes over my Christmas week health issues. To bore everyone with an update on my health scare, I went to a head and neck guy last Wednesday who looked at all of the CT scans, the radioactive iodine scan, blood work and x-rays, and said he's 95% certain what I have is a sub-sternal goiter. I have a 4 cm "mass" on my left thyroid lobe, and then this massive blob down behind my sternum. Only surgery will tell if it's got any cancer in it, but he tells me that only a small percentage of goiters become cancerous. And even if they do, they are thyroid tissue and so react great to being nuked, since thyroid absorbs radiation like mother's milk. They should be able to remove the whole mess by slitting my throat from ear to ear (!) and not having to crack my sternum. They tilt my head back, and out it slips, like a life-size Pez dispenser.
So, we have a tentative sigh of possible relief, apart from the disquieting imagery.
Goiters are, in part, coaxed along by deficiencies in iodine in the diet, which iodized salt is supposed to solve. Which means I didn't consume enough salt before, and now I can't touch the damned stuff.
As for sleep apnea, high blood sugar, high BP, fluid in the lungs and the rest perhaps being affected, or even caused, by a thyroid gone mad? "Lose the weight and stop looking for external excuses," the doctor said. "Lose the weight and the rest of your problems will most likely go away in time."
So much for instantly absolving myself of blame. Again, if I can act as a bad example that encourages all of you to reexamine your waistline and personal dietary and stress-related habits, please do as I say, not as I do.
I chatted with a Masonic brother who has gout this week. I've got a goiter. All we need are two guys with the ague and lumbago, and for Alice to come down with the vapours, and we'll have a full-fledged panoply of Victorian ailments.