Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Welcome to the hotel California,such a lovely place, can check in, but you can never leave!: ( the eagles)

i am sort of devastated. i just found out that i can not get my radioactive iodine treatment at the hospital close to me! instead, i have to drive to the hospital 4 hours away and get it. i will be getting the thyrogen injection ( IF  my insurance approves it) and then i will get the treatment, and i guess the scan there. that means that i will be their " guest" for at least three days!! solitary confinement no less.
well, i made some calls to my doctor. if she agrees, i can get it done at the hospital about an hour away from here. that means, i can drive myself and will get to go home. yeah!! the only time i will need help is for the whole body scan- i am going to have to take something this time. it lasts an hour or so, and i know i can not handle that without something to relax me. lol  this is the way the treatment will go: on monday of the week i am scheduled to start this process, and tuesday, i will get thyrogen injections. then on wednesday, i will get loaded up with the radioactive iodine ( I 131 , i think it is). i have just enough time ( an hour) to get home before i become dangerous,haha. then on friday i will  get my whole body scan. they can also do it at the hospital close to me, by at least the end of july. if i had to wait on the other hospital, i would be looking at well into august. now, i do not mean to complain, but i want to "get it done:". i am tired of waiting and want to put some of this behind me. please keep your fingers crossed for me- i will have to get my doctors approval to do this- and an order from her, my  biopsy report and the pathology report. i will have to schedule the time myself, if the hospital allows. the nuclear medicine department said that they would help me on this.( i somehow feel that we are partners in crime on this!)

this has been a frustrating, at times, process. i have some "bulldog" in me, so my family says, so i do not give up on things. this is a good thing, in this case. you have to stand up for yourself and hope for the best. perhaps i will be able to avoid the hotel California.... to be continued.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I had a two rainbow day yesterday!

whenever i see a rainbow, i think it is a good sign.yesterday, my husband and i went out to a movie- as i said it was our first fun excursion since my diagnosis. well, we saw two different rainbows on the way home. maybe things are looking up for us. and i do mean us. this has been hard on my family, especially my husband, since he has had to deal with it every day. one way that he coped, was to go outside and plant hundreds of flowers. the outside time was so good for him- very,  i sat on the front porch and had my brunch. i looked at all of the flowers and the birds and butterflies that come to visit them. i could have watched t.v. but that is so depressing to me. i would rather take in nature whenever i can. it is good for my mental health. i have to work today from 12 to 9pm, so i need a little calm before i go in.

i think besides worrying about us, our families feel so helpless when we get a cancer diagnosis. no matter what the prognosis, everyone hears the word CANCER and that pretty much dominates everything else. i lost my mom last year to cancer- she had multiple myeloma( a blood cancer) and not thyroid cancer. i helped take care of her for about 9 months before she passed away. i guess that has made this a little bit more difficult for me and my family- especially my dad. i try to reassure him that my prognosis is different ( i am hoping) than hers was, but as i said that bad old word" cancer," seems to rule the day. i have a Pollyanna personality, but i will admit i have cried and been depressed more than usual.i have had much support from my family,friends, my minister,etc, but i think that sometimes an antidepressant can help as well. cancer patients, as well as their families, should evaluate their situation and not be afraid to ask for help. whether it is talk therapy or antidepressants, these and other things can make the situation better. when i started "sharing the load" of my cancer diagnosis with others, i found out that i felt and slept better. if i can help someone else cope with this, it will be a way for me to give back to others what i have received myself..

Monday, June 28, 2010

" ICE, ICE BABY!!" (vanilla ice)- it is important to keep your thyroid medication ( all kinds) cool

i don't know about the weather where you guys are, but here in north carolina the weather has been brutal. we have had one of the hottest summers on record so far, with the highs in the higher 90's to 100. it is important to keep your thyroid medication cool. heat will break down thyroid hormone ( natural and synthetic) and it will not work well for you. a friend of mine gets her medication through mail order. hers sat in a hot mailbox for most of the day. also, it probably sat in the back of the mail truck for who knows  how long. after she had been taking this medication for a while, her TSH  sky-rocketed to over 100!! can you imagine??? i would be totally knocked out. she got some fresh medication from her pharmacy, and is doing better, thank goodness.

another thing i thought about was traveling on vacation this summer. remember to put your thyroid medication in a cooler when you travel. if it is in your purse, it will be o.k, unless you are outside in the heat. some people keep their thyroid medication in the refrigerator all of the time. i think this is a good idea. i have to confess i keep mine in my bedroom, but with air conditioning, i think it is probably o.k.( i have trouble locating the milk in my refrigerator, and i am a little afraid to put it in there!!) lol.  seriously though, this is something everyone should probably be reminded of. anything we can do to make our medication work better is worthwhile.

****this message is to becky: i would like to give you my email address: since you have just found out about your thyroid cancer, and have surgery,etc. to go through, if you would like to ask me about my experiences. i will be happy to answer any questions you might have. i surely  do not have all of the answers, but i will try to help you in any way that i can. i do suggest you purchase two books: Mary Shomon's Living Well with Hypothyroidism, is a great source book. another invaluable book is : The Thyroid Cancer Book, 2nd Edition, by M. Sara Rosenthal. Ms. Rosenthal is a thyroid cancer survivor, which makes the book even more relevant. she writes in a truthful and easy to read manner. it is also nice to hear from someone who has had thyroid cancer and recovered. i wish you the best and good luck to you. i will also say a prayer for you.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tired is my middle name-- really.

i just got two more wonderful comments! thank you so much. i love reading about cancer survivors. i hope to describe myself as one someday soon. i wanted to participate in the local "relay for life" event for cancer survivors this year, but it was too soon after my surgery. heck, i am not sure i could have walked from my car to the track where it was held, much less done a few laps. our local paper did a nice story about the event, and i cut it out and posted it on  my refrigerator. i am going to use it as inspiration for next year.

that was a funny comment about being too tired to write a comment, but i totally understand. i thought i knew what tired was, but since i have had my thyroid out, well,i feel like my name is part of the definition of the word. about a week after my surgery, i was about at my lowest point. i was sitting on the couch, and i knew that i needed to get myself up and do something, but for the life of me i could not. i had to summon all of my inner strength to get up. i then decided to call my daughter, but i  could not remember her phone number! ( we talk almost every day). the worst part  was that not only could i not remember her number, i could not think of where to find the number. the next day, i called my doctor and she doubled my thyroid medication dose. it took a few days, but i felt better. i am not there yet, though. i start looking around for a place to take a nap around 3 or 4pm. i can not nap at work,though darn it.

i made it through work this weekend. i had a couple of long days, and about 3pm besides looking for a place to nap, my throat swells up and i feel like there is a golf ball or something about that size in there. my throat is dry( i drink lots and lots of cold water during the day- i think the people at work now think i have kidney problems as well, hahahaha). i keep telling myself, this too shall pass, and i try to be patient with myself. i am off tomorrow, and i hope to nap a lot. i may find out next week if my insurance company is going to pay for the Thyrogen injections. i will probably start the treatment/scans,etc, by the end of next month. thanks again to everyone who has written comments, and also to those who have thought about writing!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I have a date on Monday

my husband and i are working all week-end, but come Monday, we are going out to a movie. this may not seem like a big deal, but it will be the first time that i have been anywhere ( except to the grocery store to scare small children, of course!) since my surgery. my scar looks pretty good- especially compared to what it looked like after my surgery ( as i have said, imagine bride of Frankenstein). now i look like maybe a  distant cousin of the Frankensteins. the surgeon made his incision " in the natural fold of my neck", and now it is more pink than red, i guess. it  looks better in the morning. by afternoon, i look a little like i have swallowed a rather large golf ball.this would be the numb area i was talking about. it was where my thyroid and lymph nodes once resided. i apply vitamin e oil to this area twice a day. as i said, my surgeon said nothing would do any good, scar wise, but i think the vitamin e helps, and it just feels better. my skin is more elastic, and is not as tight.

when i got my "cancer news" my life changed forever. i was devastated for a few days, scared, and depressed. but i decided to be in control of my cancer instead of it controlling me. i read all that i could, and writing this blog has been immensely helpful. even if things go well ( and i am hoping that they will) and i do not have any cancer anywhere else in my body, i know that it will be a while before i can let go of the cancer .  i think that it will always be present in what i do and some ways, it is not a bad thing. i am calmer at work; small things do not get to me as much. as i have said, i try to take the time to notice life's goodies: great sunsets, flowers, birds,etc. i appreciate my family time and good food. simple stuff, really.

so come Monday, my husband and i are stepping out to a movie. i am not sure which one we will see- probably not toy story 3 though- too many children!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

What a wonderful surprise!!!

i usually write a new post without looking at my previous posts, because frankly, i usually have had no comments and to me that is a little sad. for some reason though, tonight, i went to my blog first and found i had nine comments!! i was so happy i burst into tears. i have been feeling a little like a satellite out in deep space looking for , in this case, someone to talk to about my thyroid cancer. of course, i owe it all to Mary- and linking my site to hers. i really can not thank her enough, or all of the people who posted comments.

i appreciate all of the comments; i will plan going on a iodine free diet 2 weeks prior to my rai. actually, i bought a cookbook ( The low Iodine Diet Cookbook, by Norene Gilletz) , and though no one had mentioned it to me, i read about the iodine free diet in one of my books on thyroid cancer. anything i can do to make things better, i certainly will. i am also happy to know that someday, i will not always think about having thyroid cancer. my surgeon first told me that he would have to remove the lymph nodes in my neck,too. but he biopsied them, and they came back clear. he did a "level 6 lymph node dissection" in the front, along with removing all of my thyroid( i had cancer in both sides, it turned out). i still  have a numb area in the front of my neck, but there is  a lump there- swelling, so that may get better eventually. frankly, it will be o.k. if the feeling does not come back all the way- getting rid of the cancer was the most important thing.

i will check on a support group. i live in such a small town, so i am not sure what will be available. writing in my blog ( even when it was a solo flight, so to speak) was so therapeutic to me. now, having people who have been through the same experience as myself, is priceless.i hope that i can help someone else.  that has been one of my primary goals in writing this blog. thanks again for all the comments and good advice!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


o.k. well, maybe that is a little dramatic, but sometimes i do feel like i am in the twilight zone. any moment now i can just hear rod say: she used to be just an average wife,mom, health care professional, but now she is going to get a taste of health care on the other side!!!"  imagine lots of screams here, fade to black. sometimes i do feel like this is really not happening to me- it must be a dream i have yet to wake up from. not that i have been treated badly of course, but there has been a lot of waiting. i feel like i am in a foot race against cancer, and i need to get to the finish line before my cancer does. i have had to wait on my biopsy report, then wait for an appointment with my surgeon,then wait for the surgery, then wait for a follow up appointment with my surgeon, then wait for an appointment with my endocrinologist.  now i am waiting for my treatment. the insurance company has to do a prior authorization ( even little kids know what that is,these days) on my thyrogen injection. i need two injections ( total cost is about 2500.00) before i can have my radioactive iodine treatment. then after that, i will need to wait some more until i can get my whole body scan. oh, and then i will need to wait some more until i quit glowing in the dark. ( my co-workers are a little nervous about me returning to work until i cool down, so to speak)

i started this journey in april of this year. i have had lots of scary moments, shed lots of tears, and laughed a little. i have had enormous support from my family, friends, and some people i did not even know until now. i appreciate every kindness that has been shown to me and all of the prayers that have been said for me. i can only hope for the best, and in the end that's all any of us can do. i do appreciate a good Golden Earring song,though.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

be your own best friend- be in charge of your health care

If you are diagnosed with thyroid disease or thyroid cancer, it is important for you to be informed. you need to be aware of symptoms, how you are feeling, what medication you are taking, etc. i have purchased several books on thyroid disease and now, thyroid cancer, and i have read and re-read these several times. i have mentioned one in some of my earlier blogs- "The thyroid source book" by Sara Rosenthal. another favorite book of mine is : "Living well with Hypothyroidism" , by Mary Shomon. Mary also has a wonderful website, which i have recommended to several hypothyroid patients: on this website, there is a section called top docs, and it is where i found my current  endocrinologist.

the doctor i was seeing previously did not take my symptoms seriously. he said i was just stressed out, and that was  what caused my blood work results to look so strange and also, explained why i was so incredibly tired most of the time. he just patted me on the back and said to " take care and he would see me next year." this went on, really, too long. but i realized that something was definitely wrong, and i needed to find a doctor that would do their best to help me feel better. i found my current doctor on the website i mentioned, and we just clicked. she sits beside me ( not hides behind a desk)  when i go in for a visit, and she really listens to me. she asks questions,  pays attention to what i say, and adjusts the dose of my thyroid medication based on lab values AND how i feel.

although part of me would like to call up my previous doctor and say " i have thyroid cancer, and it was not stress that was making me feel so badly. and you were not doing your job!!!" i still think that ultimately, it is our responsibility to take charge of our health care. people ask me how i knew that i had cancer. well, i did not know that  i had cancer, but i did know that there was definitely something wrong and i needed to get help. had i not switched doctors and had my new doctor not  been concerned enough to order the right tests, i know that things would have turned out much differently for me. i am not in the clear,though. i have more work to do- radioactive treatment, scans,etc. but at least i found out what was wrong with me, and i am headed in the right direction.if your best friend came to you and expressed concern about a health issue, you would help them get answers, right? just remember to do that for yourself.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

i have always liked things that glow in the dark---but ME???????

 well for the good news: my dad does not have cancer!! he will meet with his family doctor and the surgeon and decide if he should still have some surgery or not. his nodules are very large, and the larger the size, the greater the chance that they could become cancerous at some later time. he is 84, and while in good health, the surgery would be difficult for him. also, he would have to find a surgeon that specializes in thyroid surgery. he has a lot to think about, and has decided to listen to all of his doctors and make the decision in a month or so.

yesterday, i found out about my treatment plan. my endo said that no matter how brilliant the surgeon, there are still  some cancer cells/tissue remaining in my neck. so i have decided to go ahead with the radioactive iodine treatment. some good news is that she recommended, and i agreed, to use the thyrogen injections instead of going off my thyroid medication for 4-6 weeks. that will mean i will  have a much better quality of live- no zombie like days, i could drive, work,etc. the concern is that the whole body scan- which would indicate if i have cancer somewhere else in my body- will not be quite as accurate as if i had been off my about a month ( she wants to wait just a little bit longer- i will be feeling better, and of course my insurance has to approve this treatment) i would be getting two thyrogen injections- 24 hours apart. then, i would be given the radioactive iodine. hopefully, i can get the injections in raleigh, and come to hickory to get the radioactive iodine. a few days later, i would have the whole body scan( again, hopefully in hickory) if i have to get the "glow in the dark stuff" in raleigh, i would have to stay isolated in the hospital for 2-3 days! if i get it in hickory, i can make it home before i start to glow.  i would have to live separate from my husband- either upstairs or downstairs- and can not ride in the car with him or cook for him for several days.

my doctor said that i will have to get these scans every six months until i get a certain amount of "clean scans". then, they will be one year apart, two years, etc. i am a little nervous about the scan. i mean, what if the cancer is somewhere else? well, they usually give another, larger,treatment of radioactive iodine.and then if that does not work, radiation or conventional chemo. i am going to try to look on the bright side ( no pun intended!) and hope that the radioactive iodine does it job and soon i will be healthy. oh, and i have lost 13 pounds. i told my husband it was sad when you were excited about losing weight, even if it was because you had cancer.hahahahah.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

do you think Frankenstein could drink Cokes?

well, tomorrow i finally get to see my endocrinologist. as you can imagine, i am anxious to discuss my treatment plan and get my thyroid medication dose adjusted a bit. i know i will have to have the radioactive iodine treatment, and i want to have it as soon as possible. last week,  back to work was really harder than i had anticipated. i was beyond tired when i got home every day, and i actually had blurred vision by the end of the day. i could use some "isolation time" to maybe get some more rest. i want to be as close to 100% as i can be at work.

one of my friends, who is health care, told me to be sure to get a" pet"  test. this involves injecting radioactive " sugar" into a vein,  if you can imagine, and then spending the next 60 minutes in a horrible machine that looks like an mri machine. i have had one mri done several years ago- i think that mri machines would fit perfectly into a house of horrors at halloween. i am not sure that i could have one done again. besides, the pet test is not fool-proof, and i think getting one  may be just too much testing. i know that i will have to get body scans done, at various intervals- depending on if they find more cancer,etc.  i want to be responsible and get whatever tests, treatments, etc, that my doctor recommends. but sometimes tests snowball. i hope i do not end up looking over my shoulder constantly  for Mr. Cancer - i want to live the rest of my life joyfully. and besides, i worry enough about other things.

one of my goals is to participate in a zoomba class with my daughter. she loves taking zoomba classes, and it looks like a lot of fun. i like dancing as exercise, but i have a ways to go before i can do this. i would probably only last about 5 minutes if i tried to do it now. my neck still has a slight bulge in the middle, and my scar is still pretty visible. this weekend i was telling my son that my doctor did not want me to drink carbonated beverages. i tried a little and it sort of "fizzled" when it got down to my surgery site. my son ( who likes to tease me ) said, oh, and then did it leak out of your neck? and i said of course, it ran down my neck onto the front of my blouse! ( actually what  i was referring to was some vitamin e oil that i had put on the outside of my neck) . i am proud of myself, i think i grossed him out for a change!!lol

Saturday, June 19, 2010


 my dad's biopsy came back inconclusive. i had one of those results once. but my dad is supposed to know something on tuesday. the surgeon said my dads nodules are so big, that he should have at least part of his thyroid removed. that is o.k, but if it is cancer, he has to have all of his thyroid removed, like i did. that is a good thing,though. i had a cancerous tumor on the other side that they did not pick up on ultrasound or biopsy. so if they had not removed all of my thryroid gland, i would be going through this surgery again, or worse.

we are celebrating my dad's birthday ( actually it was yesterday, but i had to work) and an early fathers day today. i  really like the american cancer society's slogan: celebrate more birthdays! it puts things in perspective. my son and daughter- in law are here today, and we are going to p-a-r-t-y. my husband is fixing some of his world famous, wood fire grilled chicken and i made a homemade german chocolate cake for dessert. since i have been sick, i really, really appreciate family time together and good food. so, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!! and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US ALL!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

" I'm a little bit hypo.....are you a little bit hypo too??"

Now, actually, i am a LOT hypo since my thyroid is gone. of course, i will be getting my thyroid medication dose adjusted and i am sure that things will be better soon. before,  i had mentioned writing down  a list of hypothyroid symptoms. this is not a complete list. that darn little butterfly controls our whole body!! everyone is different, but these are things that might indicate that a person has a thyroid problem. the only way to be sure though, is to have a blood test done( for TSH). this varies from lab to lab and doctor to doctor as to when a person is diagnosed and treated. that is a whole different story ( and blog). again, i recommend the book by Sara Rosenthall: The Thyroid Sourcebook. she does a great job of explaining just about everything thyroid.

o.k. here is the list:
* slow Achilles reflex
*slow heartbeat
*low body temperature
* weight gain
*dry skin
*hair loss- more than usual; also, people tend to lose the " ends" of the eyebrows
*eye puffiness
*hoarseness of your voice- this would be a change in voice
*enlarged neck
* swelling of feet
*high cholesterol ( not explained by diet or lack of exercise)
*fibromyalgia type symptoms
* longer,heavier periods
* fertility problems
* developing allergies, or allergies getting worse
this,unfortunately, is only a partial list. these symptoms could indicate hypothyroidism, or something else. but like i said, that darn butterfly regulates just about everything in our bodies. when it is sick, we get sick,too.

good news: evidently some, i am not sure if it is one or two, of my parathyroids decided not to go to Paraguay after all!! my calcium is normal, and i will not have to take large doses of calcium for the rest of my life. it is on the low end of normal, so i will probably take a regular calcium supplement just as soon as my throat feels like it can swallow those calcium tablets.

my dad's biopsy is tomorrow morning. i hope it goes well. i will let everyone know how it went.hopefully he is o.k. and will not have to have surgery,too.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Remember, thyroid disease can be inherited; if it is in your family,get checked!!

 i have several relatives with thyroid disease: my granddad,a great-aunt, several cousins, my dad, my sister, and now my daughter. my great-aunt had a huge goiter; she had it removed before i was born. no one else has thyroid nodules, except for my dad. we just found this out a little while ago. you see, when i was diagnosed,my sister and dad had a thyroid scan to check for nodules. ( my daughter has already had a scan; i want her to have another one sometime soon,just to be sure) my sister's scan turned out fine- she has a  goiter, but no nodules- either hot( the good ones) or cold( the potentially cancerous kind).

unfortunately, my dad's scan was not so good. he has several nodules, and two are at least as big as mine were, and they are the cold ones. he has a biopsy scheduled for this thursday. he will not have to wait like i did for the results; they will have a pathologist on hand, and he is supposed to have the results on the spot. if he does have cancer, the surgeon doing the biopsy wants to send him to baptist hospital for the surgery. of course, we are just taking things one step at a time, and trying not to worry too much. he is healthy, especially for his age- he is in his 80's; and he has a strong heart. if he has to have the surgery, i feel that he will do just fine. i hope of course, that the nodules are benign.

this is my first day back to work; i work 12 to 9pm tonight. i will try to keep up this blog, and let everyone know about my dad, and about my radioactive iodine treatment- i find out next monday if i will need to get it, when,etc.
again, if you have thyroid disease in your family- GET CHECKED OUT!! you can not always tell by the way you feel, although there are a lot of symptoms, some you might not associate with thyroid disorder. i will try to list a lot of them on my next blog. time to get ready to go back to the salt mines, as they say.....

Sunday, June 13, 2010

happy birthday to my daughter

 happy birthday, sweetie!! it was sure good to see everyone this weekend. i love having my family all home and cooking for everyone. what a great idea- birthday cupcakes. i think it was good for a change. having everyone all together makes me realize just how lucky i am. my dad really enjoyed it,too.

every year on my children's birthdays, i remember the day they were born, and the day we brought them home from the hospital. those were wonderful, joyous days. i remember the whip-poor-will singing on the day my daughter was born. we have these birds  close to our house this time every year. the year she was born,though, we had one practically move in with us! he sat on the top of the house even, and did his whip-poor-will singing. it was  very,very loud. at one point, my husband chased ( or tried to) him away so we could get some sleep. who says it is quiet out in the country??

well, happy birthday again- you still look like a little kid( of course you will always be one to me) and i love you dearly.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

some pictures for you

here are some of the flowers my husband planted for me; it was sort of a healing garden- i have really enjoyed looking at them and all of the birds and butterflies that they have attracted to my yard.  the next picture is of the front of my house. there is a little fountain beside the ferns. my son-in-law bought me a couple of goldfish for the fountain. i really enjoy feeding them. the last picture is of me  and my beautiful daughter on mother's day this year .( before my surgery)

Friday, June 11, 2010

i'm cranky without my nap!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i had a good day today. i cleaned house a little- my daughter's birthday is this weekend. she and my son-in-law are coming home tonight. tomorrow, my son and daughter-in-law are coming to spend the night. my daughter's birthday is on Sunday, and we are going to have a party!!my dad is also coming down to help us celebrate.the last get together we had was on mothers day; i was waiting on my surgery. this time will be so much better! so much is behind me now, and i am thankful the way it turned out.

i also got blood work done today. they had to get four tubes, so i was a little worried that my good left vein in my arm would run dry, but it hung in there. i think i even have  a little left  to spare! i find out monday if i am through with the blood work for a while, or have to go a little bit longer. i took the med techs in the lab a plate of my homemade lemon,cream cheese pound cake. they are so nice. i think a lot of people are scared of them- i mean after all, they do have all those needles and everything. but after all that i have been through, a little needle stick is nothing. unless they have to go for my "man veins" in my hand, of course.

i took another nap today, as i have done since i got home from the hospital. i swear my bed just reels me in like a trout. i am not sure what i will do when i go back to work( no naps there, unfortunately). i do not drink coffee ( yet) so i am not sure how i will stay awake. maybe the screams from the little kids when they see my neck will do the trick. we'll have to see.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

i don't want to go back to work, i just want to stay home and make cookies

i went into town today to get my hair done. i thought that this would make me feel better, more energized, more ready to go back to work?????. i had to run a few errands, and i also went by work to get my schedule. it has been 22 days since my surgery. i still do not feel like my old self. maybe that is good,though, my old self was pretty sick with cancer.i guess part of it is that i do not know what to expect. my body sort of let me down, getting sick and all,  and now i am not sure how i will be at work.

i looked at my schedule, hoping for a break- you know, maybe a lighter schedule the first week. no such luck.i have two double backs and two nights. it is sort of like merging onto the highway  at 80mph, on say, a bicycle.. and everyone else is driving a car. i know i will be better after i see my endo and she ups my thyroid dose. i know i keep saying this, but i have to believe it will get me back to my " old self" whatever that was.

yes, i would rather just stay home and make cookies next week. that would be nice. but truth is, i know i need to get back to work. i miss my job- well, parts of it anyway. and i might get to take another medical leave of absence if i have to have the radioactive iodine treatment. of course if i made cookies after that, well, no one would want to eat them!! lol

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

when parathyroids leave, do they go to paraguay?

well, i got some sort of good news today. my doctor is going to let me stop my tum-tum-tum,-tums!!! because my last calcium level was in the normal range. i have to have my calcium checked again this friday, along with some other thyroid blood work done. if it remains in the normal range, then we can assume that my two remaining  parathyroids have NOT gone to Paraguay, and have decided to stay here with me. fingers crossed.

also, if  my calcium is good, i do not have to get blood drawn every week. good news for my left arm! you see, the one good vein is in my left arm. the others, run and hide when they see the needle coming. of course, if for some reason my one good vein is on vacation or something, the med techs cast their eyes at my hands. yes, i have huge veins in my hands. i have "man veins" in my hands. i think it comes from opening so many child-proof  lids at work. i am the go to person, unless one of the guys is there, if someone can not get a top off a bottle. ( here is my secret: beat it on the counter- upside down on the lid- before opening. i mean, really smack the daylights out of it) why am i the only person at work who thinks of doing this? maybe they are just trying to make me feel good.( it usually  works,though)

i had an almost normal day. i mean, i felt  almost like my old self( only about 30 years or so older). i know that when i see my endo on june 21st, she will go up on my thyroid dose and i will feel better( at least a little closer to my real age.) i went with my  husband to see my dad today. i visited my dad while my husband went to the dentist. then i went grocery shopping( it was time to scare some more kids) only four more days to go before i go back to work. there are a LOT of kids where i work. oh boy.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Question: How is cancer like New Year's Eve?

Answer: with both you make resolutions.

here are my resolutions. and they are in no particular order, just things i have been thinking about.

1) i am going to drink more water. in the hospital i drank gallons ( it seemed) and i continued it when i got home.
    i found out that i felt better. i know it will be hard to do when i get back to work, but i am going to try my
2) as i have said earlier, i am going to be thankful for each day and try to live in the moment. i also am going to
     try to pick out one "marvelous thing" that happened that day. from seeing a hummingbird, to perhaps
     something bigger. i have a leather journal my son gave me. i am going to write these things down and that
     will serve to remind me that i am only a part of a bigger plan.
3) i am going to try to let the little things go. i have been able to do that at home, so far. it will be much more
    difficult at work. ( who likes to get yelled at because their insurance copay just went up $5.00?) i have no
     control over a lot of things that happen,so i have got to learn to let things go. i understand that i will have
     to work on this one. hopefully, i will have a plan before i go back.
4) i am somehow going to try to spend more time with my husband. we work similar schedules; the same week-
    end, but the days and nights do not always match up. he is my best friend and i enjoy being with him. i read
    somewhere, that when people die, they do not say" boy, i wished i had worked more!!" instead, they wish
    they had spent more time with their family. again, i will have to work on this one.
5) i am going to continue to have a positive and hopefully humorous, attitude about this cancer. i have not been bitter one day. i did feel sorry for myself for a few days, but i got over it. there are people out there with
    so much more to deal with than me.

i know there are more things i need to do. i am going to be involved with the local" relay for life next year". it is for  cancer survivors and their families , and raises money for cancer research. it was held last weekend. i was not physically able to participate, but next year i will be. i hesitate to use the work survivor. maybe next year i will be able to say it aloud and believe it.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dr. Frankenstein" : I say, Igor, i am quite the brillant surgeon. Perhaps i can look at the hump on your back for you." Igor : " What hump??"

 i scared a little girl at the rest area on my way home from the hospital. ( i think i mentioned this in an earlier blog) she got one look at my zombie looking self, complete with the slit throat, and went straight to her mom. i also frightened a couple of children at the grocery store last week. i am not used to being the "Bogey-woman" of little children.

i am happy to report though, that i am looking better. my scar is now mostly pink ( there is a tinge of red still in it), but i do have this hump in the middle. it should go away eventually. my husband took me for an outing today. we went to see one of his  sisters.( there were no small children in attendance; yes, she does have grandchildren, but thankfully, they were not there.) my sister-in-law is building her dream house, and we went to see it. it is under roof, but she still had to tell us what each room was going to be. it is on the lake- it is beautiful and i am very happy for her.she has a walk in closet !!! the huge kind, the one you see in magazines. i would really love to have one of those. i think that was one of, if not my favorite, parts of the house.

i have decided to be like Igor when i go back to work. if that hump is still there ( i have a feeling that it will be) i am just going to pretend that it does not exist. it does bother me physically- it sort of tightens my throat and puts a little pressure on things. yes, i am doing my exercises, but it has only been a little over 2 weeks since my surgery after all. i was really tired when i got home today. i had to take a nap. my bed is like a magnet now. and well, i am very attracted to it. i go back to work just one week from today. i hope i will be ready. i wonder if they will let me take a nap at work? i can just hear them now:" Sure, the pharmacist will be with you just as soon as she gets up off the floor. she was taking a short nap."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

i think this is phase" two" in my recovery.....

i have decided that there must be phases in recovery periods. especially when dealing with cancer,serious surgery,etc. i have just about gotten over phase one: where you can only think about dealing with pain,how you can possibly get dressed, fix something to eat,etc.  my neck is stiff and a little bit sore. there is a "numb zone" in the middle where i can not feel anything. i am not sure if this is just temporary- i think that it probably is. i have some swelling there still and some fluid, so when this is gone, the feeling will probably come back. also, something happened to me that (luckily) i had read about happening to someone else who had had this surgery. i scratched my neck, but instead of feeling it there, i felt it beside my ear!! w-i-e-r-d. i said OH NO !  rather louder than i had thought, and my husband said, WHAT'S WRONG,WHAT'S WRONG??? he was driving(!) but managed to stay on the road until i could reassure him that it was o.k. i will get used to this, i am sure.

now in phase two of recovery, i can sleep through the night without the pain waking me up. but i am starting to think about the future of things. i think that i will feel better when i get to talk to my endocrinologist and find out about what further treatment ( if any) that i will require.i am trying so hard to not think that every little pain could be the cancer somewhere else. i want to put this all behind me and go on with my so called "normal" life. as i said though, everything has changed. but i want to focus on the positive, not the negative. i owe a lot to my surgeon, he is wonderful at his job, but i really could not talk to him. i knew that he was going to do the following:" a total thyroid lobectomy, level 6 lymph node dissection, and modified radical neck dissection". what i did not know was that he also did a parathyroid autotransplantation, intraoperative neurophysiology testing, and finally a neuromascular junction testing of each nerve.( i know these things because the bill came yesterday, lol)

no wonder it took four hours! i wonder if i passed  the intraoperative neurophysiology test??i did not study before the exam, so you never know......

i guess that phase three will be me accepting what has happened to me, and going on with my life. life is good though. i have wonderful family and friends, and i really do enjoy my job. i like helping people take care of themselves.last month this woman told me " God has put you in the right place. you really help people" i was stunned. i do not think that i deserved that compliment. but to be honest, it has kept me going these past few weeks. no matter what your job, it is nice to think that you make a difference and can help someone.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

"don't stop thinking about tomorrow......yesterdays gone" (Fleetwood Mac)

for several years now, i have been trying hard to live in the moment. i have always been one to rehash my past mistakes, or try to over plan the future. i really like the eastern philosophy of living in the moment, being present and attuned to your environment. since i have been diagnosed with cancer, i have been really focused on enjoying each day and appreciating all the life around me.

my husband planted about 200 flowers and plants ( it seems) in my front yard so that i could have something beautiful to look at while i was recovering. it also helped him to do something positive, when he felt so helpless.i know it has been hard on him and i really do appreciate the beautiful flowers. when i look at my front yard,though, what i see blooming is a whole lot of love.

i start back to work on june 14th. i am a little nervous, of course. i work at  a very busy store, and i know it will take me a while to get back to speed. but i am also worried that i will forget what i now know to be so important. it is so easy to rush around trying to get to work, fix supper,do your chores,etc. and forget to look at and appreciate a beautiful flower or bird. or just take in a deep breath and look at how beautiful the sky is. having cancer is not all bad, really. it changes everything. how you view your faith, how you look at the world, what you know to be important. i realized a little bit of this last year when my mom died of cancer. but i will have to be honest, it really hits home when it is you.

Friday, June 4, 2010

" oh, i get by with a little help from my friends ( and family)" (the beatles)

 i drove for the first time since my surgery. i was a little nervous,but it was just into town to get blood work done. it takes 30 minutes to get there- of course i have to negotiate the " barrel maze" on 321 and luckily i did not run over any barrels or hit any of the workers! i had my calcium checked, starting the" once a week, six month process." i will find out today what my level is. i sure hope i do not have to go up on my tums.i can not even stand to watch the tums commercial on t.v.

i found a good way to get the "surgical glue" off of my neck. of course, you can not  do this until your doctor tells you it is time. but instead of ripping it off and having to stifle a scream do this: the night before, wash the area gently with a mild soap and water. pat dry. then slather on a good, thick vitamin e oil. leave it on overnight. the next day, the stuff will just come right off, no screaming involved. i gently washed the area again, and applied more vitamin e oil. the skin was a little pinkish, but this method was so much kinder to my neck/skin. i plan to use vitamin e oil on my scar every day. my surgeon told me i could use what i wanted, but that nothing works. i disagree with this( this is a personal decision, i have no evidence to back it up, of course) i think the vitamin e oil will help with the scarring, and besides, it makes my skin feel better. he did tell me to use sunscreen on the area when i go outside. but of course, that is just good advice for all of your skin,especially this time of year.

i will have to admit i got something wrong. i said that thyroid cancer colors are: teal,pink and purple. i think i accidentally put in the purple because it is my second favorite color( green being my first). actually, the colors are: teal, pink and blue. i wanted to correct that, though they are pretty close,because the blue is a dark blue.

i really do appreciate the cards,emails ,phone calls from my friends and family during my adventures with cancer.i can not put into words how much their support has helped me or how much it has meant to me. sometimes you really do not know how lucky you are until you have a little bit of bad luck. but i think things are on the upswing now.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down," ( Mary Poppins)

well, i am making cookies today. homemade peanut butter cookies. i am making them for the lab techs at my doctors office, because every week, for the NEXT SIX MONTHS,i have to have my calcium level drawn! i want things to start off on a good note. i mean, i pretty much know them already, having a thyroid disorder, and all, but now i am going to know them so well we will probably exchange Christmas cards this year. thankfully, i am not terrified of needle sticks. i mean, you can not have had two pregnancies and be hypothyroid and be terrified of surgeon forgot to mention that it would be for six months,though. i just happened to read it on the orders(guess he forgot that i am a pharmacist and can read prescriptions,haha). small price to pay,though, especially if those pesky little parathyroids decide to keep me company for a few more years.

i am starting to finally, in my opinion, feel better. i still really crash in the afternoons- i know my doctor will need to go up even more on my thyroid medication dose. but my neck just sort of aches and throbs instead of hurting all of the time. i am slowly removing the rest of the adhesive bandage. the surgeon tried to rip it off! OUCH!!  "does it hurt when i do that? " he said. i was thinking, now let me put some on you ( you can use your imagination here as to where i was thinking it might go ) and rip it off,then we will talk. i have a swollen area in the front of my neck. it is an accumulation of fluid and will eventually go away. he had another GREAT idea of sticking a needle in there and draining the fluid off! i said i was not afraid of needles, but not in my throat, thank you very much!! so what if my husband has to be married to the bride of Frankenstein for just a little longer. he did say for better or worse.....

i have to do neck stretching  exercises  so that my neck will not be too stiff. it is supposed to help with the pain as well. i think that i will also look into yoga before too long. i think that i could benefit from something like that. the doctor did not give me specific exercises,he just said " stretch and bend your neck back". i am going to research it and find something specific. i do much better if i have a plan of action. speaking of, i am off to the kitchen to make cookies before i crash.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"...And the winner is..........."

i finally got to see my surgeon yesterday. he said that  he removed a very large tumor ( cancer) from my right side,all the lymph nodes around it, and surprise, i had ANOTHER tumor ( cancer) on the other side! the really good news is that  MY NECK LYMPH NODES ARE NEGATIVE FOR CANCER!! he said there is a good chance that he got it all. i have to see my endocrinologist on june 21st, and she will review the pathology report at length, and decide if i will need the radioactive iodine treatment or not.

the radioactive iodine treatment is a tricky decision. on the one hand, it will "seek out" any rogue thyroid cancer cells that somehow got away and are looking for a new place to set up shop. this is the good part. the bad part, besides having to go off your thyroid medicine for several days, and basically becoming a zombie, is that there is a fairly significant percentage of people who will develop some kind of cancer later on because of the husband is leaning towards the side of not doing this treatment, but i am going to listen to my doctor and see what her opinion is. after all, she saved my life- seriously. if i had not gone back to her and had she not done the tests, well, you know.

my surgeon said that he could not extend my leave past two weeks. can you believe having major surgery, and then going back after two weeks? i called my district manager and she is going to see if somehow i can get another week or two off. i really need them. my neck is still swollen and painful. i really crash in the afternoon, i guess they still have some more work to do on my thyroid dose (!) no one has done blood work on that as yet. i have to get my calcium level drawn every 3-4 days or so. the surgeon is doing a sort of "parathyroid challenge" test. he reduced my calcium from 12,000mg per day to a mere 3,000mg and i have to have blood work done on friday. he said that was the only way to tell if they had reattached. evidently they will be doing this a lot ( i saw the form for this- it had a LOT  of lines on it) until they feel that things are o.k.

i was proud of myself yesterday. i made it all the way back to the car before i started crying. my husband,said " are you going to cry all the way home?" and i said no. just half of the way home!!