For me diagnosis was a hell of a good thing, I finally knew why I was having so many problems. Before diagnosis I would often blame myself for my problems, I honestly had myself believing I was anorexic.

"A lump, eh?"

Well, my t-shirts started to fit weird so I tried to feel the lump again. This time I couldn't only feel it, I could very well see it. I also found two more enlarged lymphs, one on the top of my chest and one small one under my arm.

On February 28th (1997) I visited the family doctor again, who was nearly able to determine my problems as Hodgkins just by look and feel. He didn't want me to be sad though, so he scheduled me for a biopsy (when they cut out a piece and look at it under the microscope) immediately.

The same day I was sent for bloodwork and chest x-ray. I didn't like the needle from the bloodwork, as I do hate needles. It turns out that my white blood cell count was around 15(k) and I wasn't even sick, so something was definitely wrong. I had a little trouble tying my gown at the x-ray place, but always ask your technicians to help you with stuff like that, they are usually friendly people.

My Biopsy

I went to talk to the surgeon about the biopsy, he told me the whole deal, they put me under an anesthetic (my choice of three types, local, MAC, or general) and cut it open, chop out the lymph and sew it back up, no biggie. I was scared to death of needles so I continously asked... "do you really have to use needles?"

The surgery would be outpatient, at Reading Hospital and Medical Center. I choose to do it under local anesthetic, which put me in the hopsital for the least amount of time. I think I spend about 4 hours of the night before surgery awake and running the entire surgery through my mind. I took some pretty anti-anxiety pills called Alprazolam (.25mg) which made me not have any worries and also a little drowsy. I was also dosed up on Tylenol #3 (Acetaminophen with Codeine, the miracle pain-killer drug). I would run my finger across my lymph again and again saying it couldn't hurt too much. And it didn't, other than the few needles used to shoot the anesthetic "juice" in. I was awake for the whole surgery, and total hospital time was less than 3 hours for me.

I went to their "SurgiCenter", signed in, got a robe, did some temperature and blood pressure tests, and sat in pretty waiting room for a half hour with my parents. Then got called to the operating room, and every five minutes they would ask me what my name was, who my doctor was, and what operation I was there for (which is a good thing, it wouldn't have been too good to have open heart surgery that day!)

I got on the operating table/bed thingie, and got a cool little pillow. They hooked up a little "blood-burner" type thingie to me, one end was a thin metal panel that attached to my side (most people get it attached to their leg) and the doctor had the other end that did some cool zapping to stop bleeding. It buzzed and fried a little, but didn't hurt much, so I found it amusing. Of course, I wasn't buzzed with it until after I was cut open (a 2 inch slit next to my neck) after being "juiced" with anesthetic. I had him put quite a bit in me around the area, I did not want to feel a thing. (If you feel pain during local surgery, tell them to juice you up, no pain is the way to go!!!) Anyways, after I got stitched up (that took the longest amount of time during the biopsy) they took off the little metal thing and I was sent down the hall, as if nothing happened. I was still drugged up, so that's exactly how I felt, as if nothing happened!

Post Biopsy

Within 15 minutes after Biopsy, it was declared definitely as Hodgkins, which was a relief to most of us (I talk as though it wasn't me, surprisingly...) because we knew there were much worse things out there. So I had Hodgkins. Yah.

My neck was numb for a few hours afterword (I think about 3 to 4 hours) because when I went to KFC to eat some fried chicken immediately after surgery I couldn't feel my neck. It was a really cool feeling.

My neck was weird for a while, but I was right back to high school the next day. I got to scare all my friends and teachers with my news. I declared myself incapable to do work at the same time. I was in pain. If you ever have surgery like this, get lots of Codeine (if you aren't allergic to it..), it really does make the pain go away!

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