Your Job is to Fire Me

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The story continues for Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, whose tagline I’ve found out is “Check Your Neck“. Clever.

Eight short weeks after the diagnosis that the nodules in my thyroid had “suspicious” cells, I was scheduled for a thyroidectomy. The surgeon is the go-to guy in Rhode Island for this surgery. Each time I’ve heard about or met someone who’s had this kind of surgery Dr. Monchik has performed it. He is the Chief of Endocrine surgery at Rhode Island Hospital.
I met him in his office in an old building on the East Side of Providence. My husband came with me.

Dr. Monchik was much shorter than I expected. He is an older man, with a pleasant but direct manner. I was surprised by how he encouraged questions and patiently explained the answers; I never felt rushed in my appointments with him. The staff in his office too were quite lovely and their attention to patient care impeccable.

Dr. Monchik did a quick physical exam of my neck and throat. Looked carefully at the most current ultrasound and then explained the surgery to me. He said, your job is to fire me; and I’ll let you know when that can happen. He would not know, he explained, until he has an inside look at my thyroid, whether or not he would have to take the entire thing or just part of it. I understood that the surgery would “paralyze” my vocal cords and it would take a while for my voice to come back to a normal range–six months for it to return completely. Finally, he said that he would make sure the scar was right in the crease of my neck so as it healed it would be almost invisible–and it is.

The morning of the surgery there were several nurses and technicians in and out of the curtained off area where I lay on a gurney waiting–I was the first surgery of the morning. Dr. Monchik stopped by, asked if I had any other questions. I said no, especially since I could feel the anesthesia kicking in. The last thing I remember is the sound of the curtain on metal hooks being swept out-of-the-way as I was wheeled down the hall and my husband kissing my forehead.

Not that I recall much of post-op either, I do remember that Dr. Monchik was not able to see me before I was discharged. I was seen by his interns. They explained how the surgery had gone and gave me the directions for care for when I got home. I did see Dr. Monchik one week post-op and again a few more times over the subsequent six months. During my last visit, after the follow-up treatment and a final ultrasound, I was indeed able to fire Dr. Monchik. I did so with a smile on my face and a hug from the doc!

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