**Trigger Warning - pictures of surgical incisions attached.
Have you ever experienced Deja Vu?
You know, the feeling that at the very moment you are mid motion, mid experience you get a tingling Spidey sense, raised neck hairs, goose bump arms telling you that you've done this exact action, or you've been to that exact place before...even though you have no recollection of date and time?
For me it doesn't happen often.
Though I have one very clear memory when my Deja vu flashed me back to medieval times for a brief second that made all too much sense of the present circumstance but, hey, that’s a weird story for some other time.
This actual Deja vu moment is not quite the textbook definition.
I've spoken in the past about my autoimmune disease and subsequent cancer diagnosis.
The details and harrowing experience are fleshed out in my upcoming memoir, but this experience is more along the lines of surgery adjacent.
You see, when I had my thyroid removed four years ago the surgery itself was met with celebration, in my mind. Regardless of the scar across my neck, the discomfort I would feel, the healing process, difficulty with my voice and swallowing food, none of that mattered because cancer was being removed.
What I thought would be a highlight and epiphany moment of my life answering age old struggles turned out to be a larger leap into a further education of our complicated medical system.
All of that aside, I had an amazing surgeon. He was highly praised for being not only extremely experienced in his field but the elite of seamstress's, one that left behind something that looked like a hint of a scar.
As I healed, people were in awe. My scar was a non-scar. It was nearly transparent, and people couldn't believe I had major surgery.
I smiled with pride.
And then I didn't.
Several months later a small bump appeared.
It looked like the little bump I had before the surgery, about the size of a zit. It had been nothing major in my life for a million years and I had assume, joyfully, in the process of surgery it was removed.
"The little Engine that could and did"
This little dot began to grow. It wasn't an overnight process; it was over years.
It went from being the size of a pin head to the size of a pencil eraser.
Doctors glanced at it, touched it but never suggested nor guessed at its origin.
It grew from an small eraser to a large nail head.
Still nothing from my doctors.
Over the years and its growth, it has been spoken of and labeled as "just a cyst" ... landing in an unfortunate place.
I recently visited a new Endocrinologist who attempted to touch my throat and thyroid area only to be met dead on with my cyst, that was now attempting to outsize a dime. She expressed concern and said quite frankly that I should make an appointment with my surgeon and get it looked at because it was impeding upon her ability to properly examine me.
I did as I was told and promptly called my surgeons office.
“Hey, it’s me, I know it’s been a while, but it seems that I have a large cyst growing right in the middle of my thyroid incision”
They seemed confused, maybe concerned and I was asked a million questions about pain and discomfort and then given an appointment within days.
I naively thought he would brush me off to a dermatologist or that this was something that could be done in the office. You know, like local numbing, a quick slice, a couple of stiches an sent on my way. Easy peasy.
No such luck.
The discussion went from zero to surgery within minutes.
He spoke about all the ways to remove it and from which angle. He had me stand in front of a mirror as he stood behind me describing and drawing with his fingers how he could use the incision I have by lengthening it leaving me with still one scar compared to going in just below it and leaving 2 scars, like an equal sign, or cutting down across the middle and leaving what would look like a cross or plus sign.
The complication was not that it was a cyst but where it was located.
Out of all the real estate my body has to offer my cyst picked the center of my neck amongst nerves and scar tissue.
Yippee! <eye roll>
I scheduled the surgery.
The day before I followed all the Pre-op instructions. Shower with the special soap. Stop eating by midnight. Don’t use certain meds. Whatever the restrictions stated I followed.
The morning of surgery I was awake just after 4am. We needed to be there by 6am and the hospital is 45 minutes away.
As my husband drove the déjà vu began.
We parked in almost the same place in the parking structure.
Walked in through the doors to check in, register and wait in the same waiting room.
When the nurse came to get me and take me back for prep this was the first time I registered with high blood pressure before a procedure.
I thought I was mentally prepared for this. It’s a minor procedure. The surgery itself shouldn’t be more than 40 minutes and once awake I should be home by lunch.
I should have had a clue when my body began expressing its anxiety. I went to the bathroom five times in the span of three hours. My system was grumbly and gassy and was acting highly disturbed.
I attempted to talk myself down. Surround myself in white light. Breath.
I spoke in relaxed and friendly tones with the nurses and medical staff.
When my surgeon came in, he greeted us and proceeded to grab his sharpie to draw on my neck just as he had four years prior.
The surgery staff was not the same and my team was smaller compared to before, but one nurse came in and I recognized her name. It was a common name with an unusual spelling. She spoke and it was Déjà vu.
When the time came to roll me to the OR I told my husband that I loved him, and I would see him on the other side. One of the staff laughed and said, “You mean post-op, not like the other “other” side” We all chuckled. And I assured him that I was only here to remove a cyst and have a free nap, nothing more.
When I woke up, I asked what time it was.
I did this last time and I have no idea if this is common or not. Somewhere inside my head I need to know how much time had passed.
If you do this, let me know in the comments or drop into my social media. I’m curious.
I woke with an ice pack across my neck. Just like before.
When I was coherent enough, I was rolled into the recovery post-op. As my waking became more frequent and my dozing off became less, they called my husband back to be with me.
I was given some applesauce and a cup of ice for the ginger ale I brought from home.
If you’ve been following me, you understand I have diet restrictions. If you’re new to my blog, surprise, due to Hashimotos I have diet restrictions. I’m accustomed to bringing my own food stuff everywhere.
Once I was fully awake and able to check off the boxes of acceptable actions I was discharged and sent on my way.
I rarely take photos of myself in a doctor’s office or hospital setting. So much so that I did not have one photo on my phone from my surgery four years ago. I looked for a picture of me to see if I had one mid healing or anything of my scar and couldn’t find one.
I honestly thought it was a one and done.
I think that if that cyst was anywhere else on my body, I would have been fine.
But when I look in the mirror today, I am transported back to when I had my cancer surgery.
It could be a scent, a song or simply walking the same steps over the same path to relive something you thought you put to rest.
Trauma sits within us in different ways.
For all the progress I have made over the last four years this minor surgery through me for a loop. The same hospital, with the same surgeon, with the same scar.
Déjà vu is bizarre…. And not as much fun as it used to be.