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“Answering the Question, “Did I Swallow a Baseball?””

From: Seth Dillingham In Response To: Top of Thread.  
Date Posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 9:17:07 PM Replies: 0
Enclosures: None.

The short answer to the question, “Hey, Seth, you look like you tried to swallow a baseball and it got stuck! Did you?” is, in fact, "Hah! No."

I don't blame you for wondering, though. The list of weird stuff that people unintentionally or unknowingly swallow starts with spiders and then gets weird. A baseball wouldn't be much of a stretch.

The long answer is as follows.

Saturday I worked at the hall with about a third of the ecclesia, cleaning up both inside and outside. We'd let the brush encroach on the yard a bit (a lot) too much, so most of my time was spent outside.

After stacking all of the chairs in the main room so that Darren and Ravi could vacuum, I went out to help with brush cleanup.

Or so I thought. Instead of brush, I cleaned up trees. I used Frank's chainsaw to cut down one tree to the right of the shed, then I climbed a ladder and cut a large branch from another tree.

After all the cutting, I dragged the trees and branches down to the parking lot, across the newly cleared spot behind the lot, all the way out to and over the stonewall.

I've done a lot of this kind of work. Really.

But I remember thinking, when I was dragging the largest piece, "Oh man this is the heaviest thing I've ever moved." I managed, though there were a few times that I drove my feet into the ground instead of moving the tree.

Later, Frank asked me to take down another tree which was already behind the stone wall. This one was much taller but wouldn't have to be dragged. Bonnie requested that I cut it up so they could take it home for burning, so I did, then I threw the logs out to the parking lot so she could gather them. (Nobody had a wheelbarrow or tractor.)

I was surprised at how totally exhausted I was by this point. In fact, I was nervous while cutting up that tree, as I was so tired that my hands felt weak and shaky. I'm comfortable with a chainsaw, but if I had continued to feel that way I would have put it down for the day.

Sunday morning I was still a bit tired, and my back was sorer than I expected. Not very surprising.

Monday morning, shortly after getting out of bed, I noticed that my back was still quite sore. Plus, I had a gigantic lump at the bottom of my neck! (Not *quite* big enough to actually be a baseball, but close enough. Certainly larger than a golf ball.)

Corinne starts trying to find an Ear-Nose-Throat doctor to see me soon. She's thinking I have some freakish cancer that, at the rate this thing grew in, will eat me whole within a couple of weeks. First appointment she gets is for Friday in Mystic, but later she gets one with Dr. Cameron today (Tuesday).

I figured it's a swollen lymph node (which means I have an infection). I've had them a couple of times before, though the only one this big was in my armpit in my early teens. A search on WebMD and eMedicineHealth seems to confirm my Nearly Professional Diagnosis, though I wasn't comforted by the warning that if the swollen node is immediately above the collarbone then medical attention should be immediately sought. (That is when Corinne found the appointment for Tuesday. She didn't like that warning either.)

With my back still hurting and feeling generally weak and maybe feverish, I take my Ibuprofen and try to work.

Tuesday morning my back hurt a little less, but the ball in my throat is as big and hard as ever. I feel slightly clumsy, but I figure that goes with feeling generally weakened. I'm also having a very hard time remembering the words "lymph node," so clearly the fever is affecting my brain.

Tuesday afternoon I go to see Dr. Cameron. He walks into the exam room and asks why I'm there. I lean my head back a bit and point, and he says, "Oh, you have a swollen thyroid!"

"Really? I thought it was a lymph node." He asks me to swallow.

"Nope, it's the thyroid. It's connected to your larynx, so it moves when you swallow. The lymph node would stay put. Same spot, though."

Now I'm worried. My grandmother had some significant thyroid issue at some point, but I don't remember what.

"Have you done any strenuous activity in the last few days?"


With that one question, all the stress of the last couple days evaporated. He clearly knew exactly what was wrong with me, and the way he asked the question clearly implied this was a common(-ish) problem.

So I explained what I had done, and he agreed that moving that one tree was probably what did it. I ruptured a blood vessel in my thyroid, and it swelled up with blood. Overnight it hardened when the blood coagulated.

It's called a Chocolate Cyst, because of the consistency of what it contains. Mmmm, like a nice blood pudding!

The treatment? Wait a couple of weeks for it to soften up, which means the coagulated blood has turned into a thick, oily liquid. He'll then tap and drain it right through the skin, in his office. He says it will never go down on its own.

By now you're surely wishing you'd stuck with the short answer, but at least now you can be sure that I did not, in fact, swallow a baseball.

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From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. - WC