March 7, 2018
Carlos was happy to have the appointment set and getting eager to have this thing removed. He was still expecting it to be an infected tonsil that would have to be removed. In case I was wrong, I didn’t say much about what I thought it was. I did mention to him that I was concerned and pretty sure it was going to require surgery and some follow up treatment.
On the 7th we went to the satellite UCLA office and saw Dr. Irene Kim, ENT. Usually I ask friends and family for recommendations for doctors, but I didn’t want to tell too many people yet. I picked Dr. Kim off our new insurance list and prayed she was the one we needed to see. God was totally directing me to her!
Dr Kim went over all his symptoms and did a thorough exam and a scope going through his nose down the throat. She explained every step and everything she saw, and was looking for. She had the images up on the screen for me to watch also. She noticed it bled when the scope touched it. Carlos had no pain. She sat down and told us she needed more tests but has seen this enough to know what it was. She said. “I’m not happy with the look of this and I’m concerned it’s not a good thing.” My eyes met hers and I knew we were on the same page.
Carlos asked some questions about his tonsil and if he could handle a dirt bike ride. She told him the growth had eaten his tonsil and there wasn’t much of it left. She said he could ride, but his airway is restricted so he needs to go easy.
She sent him to the lab immediately and set up a CAT scan in an hour and said to return to her after the scan and she would see him again to go over it and attempt an in-office biopsy. She now had his full attention. She just kept assuring him and told him to get the tests and came back. She had such a confident and warm demeanor, we both trusted her immediately.
Labs were quick and we grabbed lunch in the hour wait for the scan. We talked in code. “If it’s something bad…”
“If it’s just a surgery, we should be prepared…”
“If it’s something bad, what should we…”
He didn’t want to eat much.
I always want to eat much.
Back in her office, she got him in immediately. She had the scan images and let me record her explanation of what she saw. She has seen it before. The tumor is large, over 5 cm long. She also said there were a few lymph nodes that were twice the normal size. She’s confident it’s not a nice thing and she really wants to do the biopsy.
Due to bleeding and gagging, the biopsy attempts were so hard on Carlos. It took over two hours of attempts and resting and attempting again and resting again, before she had enough tissue. At one point Carlos asked if he could be put under and let her just take a big piece. She said that isn’t an option because it’s so big, they wouldn’t be able to intubate him, as it blocks most of his airway. The option would be to do it in an OR and that way if the bleeding got out of control they would be equipped to rescue, but he’d still be awake. By God’s grace, she eventually got enough tissue to test it.
Carlos again brought up tonsils. She was trying to be cryptic and I finally said, Dr Kim, you can say what you think it is. So she said it. “I think it’s squamous cell carcinoma and I need the biopsy to confirm it.” Carlos isn’t as good a friend with Google as I am, so he asked what that was. “Cancer.”
There. She said it.
Now we wait for the biopsy report to confirm and give more detail.
Getting his scope done and a few pics from the CAT scan so you can see “it”.