20 Years Ago Today… That Dang Lymph Node

So twenty years ago on this Monday was the day I felt that dang lymph node that would later change my life forever.  I was at UT in Austin, taking a tennis class because I love tennis and was a kinesiology major and yes taking a sport was a class.  I remember going for a backhand and thought huh something under my left arm hurts.  When I got home I was poking around and felt a small, pea sized lump that was round and I could move it but it was tender.  My roommate made a comment that I probably had mono.  Haha I thought, no way do I have mono.  I felt totally fine and I’m twenty, nothing could be wrong, or could it.  Well I went home a couple days later for thanksgiving and ended up seeing my doctor that I had been seeing since I was a kid.  He thought ok probably some sort of infection so I got put on an antibiotic and I fully expected to recover.  By Sunday, just a few days later this thing had tripled in size, was hurting pretty much all of the time, but I had to drive back and finish the last week of the semester and then do my finals.  I made the drive back to school, and ended up making an appointment with a doctor in Austin.  I could no longer sleep well without being woken up from pain, and I could no longer wear my backpack the correct way because it put pressure on that area.  This doctor that I saw was great.  He spent lots of time asking me all kinds of questions, and then ordered me to get a mammogram.  Off I went to an imaging center and they denied my mammogram stating I was too young and ended up doing a sonogram instead.  During the sonogram they thought this hard mass was a cyst and said we are going to send you upstairs to a surgeon and he is going to stick a needle in it (um what?) and drain it to relieve the pressure and it will feel much better. (I wish).  Upstairs I go, and this doctor did indeed stick a needle in it, but only blood came out. (ugh)  By this time my underarm hurt so bad, so at least I got some hydrocodone (not good but really I needed some relief), so that was the end of that, no answers, my lymph node huge, my arm hurting so I started taking the pain medication.  The next day my sister graduated and what did I do?  I slept through most of it because that dang lymph node hurting and hydrocodone on board.  By this point I’m sure my mom was freaking out back home, and little did I know she was talking with doctors here about what to do, so then the plan was, take finals early and come back home and get this taken care of.  Well studying and taking finals on pain killers was kinda crazy, but I ended up with a really good GPA that semester!  When I got back home, meaning the town I grew up in, I was scheduled to have an excisional biopsy at Baylor hospital.  Now its getting serious and kinda scary!  This relentless lymph node was huge by now and hard and my entire under arm and skin were red and swollen.   My first surgery ever!  I remember crying before but then they gave me the good juice and was like woohoo and then I was out.  When I woke up in recovery, I could hear other patients in there and one lady got sick, and I thought oh man get me out of here.  Well they make sure you can drink and pee before taking the IV out and let me tell you, I am not good with those things in my arms.  I couldn’t wait to get it out.  My sneaky but loving mom, had called our pastor even though they had a plan to make it seem like he was there visiting someone else and ran in to my mom in the waiting room.  More on this part later!  So my pastor came in to say hi, which was very nice. Again, didn’t really have any answers because we had to wait on pathology.  What is gross about this, if you are not grossed out already is that they left part of my incision open and packed it with gauze so it would heal from the inside out and every day I got to pull some out and clip it off (this got grosser every day by the way).  Again, still not knowing what was going on, my arm did feel better, mainly because they removed a piece of the mass but I knew it was still there and that something was up, but everyone had a poker face.  More on that later!  We were all due to make a family trip to NC tovisit family, but last minute my parents decided they were going to stay behind with me to go to my follow up appointment.  I was like dang, I thought I would have the house to myself! Lol.   Once I got to my doctor appointment it all made sense……………….


This is a picture of me and my good friend Amanda who I have known since age 5. She was visiting me in Austin and this was in 1996.