Thyroid II

This is the butterfly I saw out front the morning my surgeon called to tell me the pathology report had shown cancer cells in my goiter. The butterfly remained long enough for me to say good-bye to Jay on the front porch and run back in for my camera.  She may be the same butterfly who nicked my shoulder later on that day in the garden.  I will take her presence as a sign of life, of hope.

I had asked my brother several days ago for the recipe he uses for steamed cabbage.  I typed the word ‘life’ in my itunes and started listening to the random songs that popped up (right now it is Barbara Streisand, thanks to either my husband or daughter who are oh so romantic).  I gingerly took the cabbage out of the grocery bag, keeping a keen eye out for bugs.  Earlier this week I had cut the cabbage from my garden cringing as I saw evidence of bugs and slugs.  My victory that day was cutting the cabbage; I threw it in a grocery bag, tied the handles tight and shoved it in my fridge hoping any bugs would either suffocate or die in the cold.  Today there was nothing moving across the tender leaves and I cut large swathes around the holes left from bug munching.  Shredded cabbage and chicken broth, homemade from my friend Anita who one day showed up at work with a bag of frozen home made chicken broth for me.  I don’t know why she keeps making it for me; I accept her little baggies of gold with gratitude. I added fresh thyme pricked from the plant I just put in the ground this morning and the cabbage was soon done.

I never take my garden for granted; I am always amazed when I go out and my little buddies have something new to offer me.  Broccoli, peas, onions, cilantro, herbs…..  I can’t resist pulling some weeds and getting my hands in the dirt every time I go out.  There has been more than once that at work I look down and see a smudge of dirt on my shin, or am in a meeting and realize there is a thin lining of mud up over the soles of my shoes.  The most embarrassing moment was yesterday during pre-op testing when I realized there was a thick line of dirt shoved up under my nails.  Didn’t I even wash my hands before I left home? Every time the nurse turned her back I surreptitiously  picked at the dirt, glad that giving blood meant I had to show the inside of my arm and my palm rather than the encrusted nails on top of my hand.

I find out in great relief that I need to be at the hospital tomorrow morningl at 6:45; now I know I won’t get throwing-up-sick in the pre-op from dehydration and caffeine withdrawal like I did last week, when I had to wait until 11:30.  I want to set up the soaker hoses this afternoon yet because the weather is supposed to get hot again starting tomorrow.  I am deeply grateful for fresh cabbage and thyme, to a garden that needs watering, to my family and friends who have showered me with gifts and time, and their presence.  I am grateful to the man delivering flowers who met my eyes in a grin after I hid behind the door signing for flowers because I was, ahem, inappropriately dressed.  (Or maybe he was grinning because I wasn’t as discreet as I thought).

I am grateful for this time of connection with the earth and with my loved ones and with myself.  The sun and sky and breeze has been glorious these past few days and I am grounded by all this, despite facing another surgery.  I see this time as an opportunity to reflect on new space in my throat, of cleansing and healing, of health and wholeness.  I carry with me the words of my friend Melody:

The throat is a sacred vessel, a passageway from the lips, through the cave of the mouth to the inner terrain of the throat that allows entry to the heart.  You are clearing the way for your heart to speak.

Gone Goiter

My sister-in-law, Rachel, asked if I can see a difference yet or if my neck is still too swollen from the surgery.  I had a huge goiter taken out on Wednesday; my surgeon told me she wasn’t surprised I felt bruised when I told her I felt like I had had a football team smash into my chest.  She said the goiter was so large she had to pull very hard.  (I can’t really imagine what she meant – did she rip it out with her two fists? Legs braced against the table with sweat pouring off her brow??)  Who even gets a goiter in this day and age??

I tried to shrink the goiter on my own for the past three years – with acupuncture and increased doses of kelp (iodine) and lots of work on expressing my voice. The thyroid is in the throat chakra and I had used the goiter as a reminder to speak my voice, which starts with knowing my voice first, and often that is the greatest challenge.  But the goiter was growing and one endocrinologist (I saw a couple in my effort to find one who didn’t go immediately to surgery) said I should have the surgery while I am young and healthy.  Oh flattery will get you everywhere.

This Spring it had grown noticeably larger and my necklaces were getting tighter.  And I had reached my family deductible in my insurance – perhaps the most motivating factor!

After Rachel’s question I studied my neck in the mirror, and yep, there was my skinny neck looking slightly raggedy and tired.  And I realized I kind of miss the smooth swelling of the goiter that had taken up residence in my thyroid.  My neck looks kind of sad and lonely now, shriveled and less important. I have the challenge to find and speak my voice without the external reminder of the goiter.  A friend wondered aloud what negatives I could send out of my body with the removal of the goiter and I replied,  “the hostile negative introjects”.  Although it was daunting to think of them gathered all in one place (power in numbers) I tried to picture them being whisked away with the fiber of the goiter.  And with what shall I replace them in this space now?  I wrap the blue silk scarf my son brought home from Israel years ago around my neck and it sits in soft bundles, gentle on my skin.  May there be space now only for compassion tenderness acceptance joy.