It is about a two hour drive from Jasper to Emory University Hospital, and this is assuming just moderate traffic.
Before surgery, there are standard blood tests that need to be done, and a couple of meetings to make sure the everyone has a clear medical history of my past. Dr. Grist also wanted me to have a chest and neck MRI prior to surgery. The reasons for this were two-fold:
1. To see where the thyroid extended. The ultrasound done by Dr. Wotten showed a tumor about 5.3 x 5 x 3 cm, about the size of a piece of standard sandwich bread, but twice three times as thick. However, ultrasounds aren't very precise--it is just sound bouncing through the skin, giving a rough image. Dr. Wotten had already indicated that my thyroid extended down underneath my collar bone.
2. To take a look at the lymph nodes in the neck, to see if there we any expansion. Dr. Grist explained that normally they nodes are about 2mm in diameter. If the MRI showed lymph nodes greater than this, this could indicate that there might indeed be cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes.
I arrived promptly at 10:45AM for my 9:30AM appointment. (I am normally not that late...) Nevertheless, they took me through the process of registering for the surgery, verifying my surgery, creating arm-bands for my stay, and drawing blood for blood-typing. The last step of the morning was meeting with an anesthetist to discuss how the anesthesia would be administered.
I had about 20 minutes for lunch until the next appointment. Thinking there would be a fast food place around Emory, I got in my car, drove around for 20 minutes, found nothing and went right back to the same parking spot. Next step--the MRI.