Thursday, August 11, 2011

one down, one to go.....

my doctor's nurse called me today( of course i was at work) and told me the good news. MY SCAN WAS NEGATIVE!! she is sending me a copy of the report- for my records. i am not sure if it will contain any information that will be useful later on, but i am still  going to put it with my other test results. i am not sure if i will have to have another scan done in a year? or later? the nurse was not sure. but at the end of next month, i have to have an ultrasound of my neck. my doctor says that she likes ultrasounds of the neck and blood work( checking for thyroglobulin/thy ab ) because  the few cases that required additional treatment( at least in her practice) were diagnosed that way. i am going to ask her about scans when i see her in september.

the blood work will take a few more days to come back. i am so thankful that she called me with the scan results, instead of waiting on the blood work. i had  the same blood test done just a few weeks ago, so i am not expecting it to be very different. i should not have to go home from work when she calls me, in other words.

i can honestly say, that dealing with the anxiety of testing was the worst part of this process for me. being on the LID was actually good for me- i found out that i am lactose intolerant, and have changed my diet. my stomach is so happy with me now! my voice is a little bit better,too. perhaps the reaction to the lactose in my diet was causing a little reflux and affecting my voice? just a theory i have, but it is possible. with the exception of a little nausea after the tracer dose( again, not sure if it was the medicine or lack of food), and a few needles sticks( one not so good) here and there, the physical part of the scan was not too  bad.

someone asked me if i feel like i have a dark cloud hanging over my head. wow. i am not sure if i would ask a cancer patient that or not, but a good question i guess. actually, i do not- most of the time. i feel a little bit of a cloud when testing time comes around. mostly, i just try to get on with my "new normal" life and try to be happy. that is all any of us can do, really. i have tried to make this into a positive experience- by blogging, changing my lifestyle/diet and just enjoying all of the good things that come my way. it has been a little over a year since my surgery/chemo and i still feel that way. i think that this has changed me forever, and this  is not a bad thing.

so, one down and one to go. i think that i am going to be o.k. now. i will let everyone know when my blood work results come back. until then, you can find me in my zumba class.  you will recognize me because i will be the one wearing a pink belly scarf , dancing my heart out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"the w-a-i-t-i-n-g is the hardest part" you said it, tom

 i think that i got through my scan week pretty well. i was busy- i had to be at the hospital almost every day that week. the only "mini-meltdown" that  i had that week was on a day that i had off. i am afraid that "the what ifs" caught up with me. my former doctor, from duke, said to prepare myself for another round of treatment. o.k. i went to personnel and picked up some leave of absence papers. but truthfully, i do not think that anyone can be fully prepared for another treatment. in a thyca newsletter, it states that "thyroid cancer can sometimes reappear decades after initial treatment." you can do two things after reading that statement. you can: 1) live your life fearfully, negatively, and make everyone who loves you miserable, or 2) live your life in the most positive manner that you can. enjoying life's little pleasures and letting as much joy into your life as possible.

call me Pollyanna, but i choose option number two. i intend to make the very best of things that i can, and hope for the best. really, if you think about it, having cancer can be a positive thing. it has caused  me to  make major  changes in my life- adding exercise, improving my diet, appreciating my family and friends more, strengthening my faith,  just  to name just a few.

waiting on test results is hard, believe me. but i am trying not to worry about things too much. i have no control over what is going on now in my body. i can put good food in, exercise, think good thoughts, but that is really all that i can do. whatever happens, i will just deal with it in the best manner that i can. in the meantime, i will continue to live my" new normal" life, and enjoy it.

a good friend of mine just returned to work yesterday after a serious bout with colon cancer. she also had to have her gall bladder removed due to damage from the chemotherapy.  i called her to wish her a good first day back at work. she said that she was glad to be back at work, and back to her normal life. i said, you mean your "new normal" life? she laughed and said, well, that is true. my new normal life.

in some ways, cancer patients are "lucky". we are given the opportunity to examine our lives and make positive changes. we can improve the quality of our lives- and this influences the quality of our families lives as well. am i glad that i had cancer? HECK NO!! but, i will use this challenge to evaluate my life and do everything in my power to make the best of this situation.

today is my day off. tonight i will go to my zumba class and i will  wear my pink belly scarf, even though i might be the only one wearing one, just because it makes me happy. for that hour and 20 minutes, i will definitely not be thinking about test results or "what ifs". i am taking things one day at a time, and hoping for the best.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

zumba in a honkey tonk bar---- yeee haw!

i mentioned that my daughter took me to a zumba class friday night. she was familiar with the instructor, but had not been to this particular location before. we got ready to go, and my daughter loaded the address into her navigation system. i wish that i had had one of those when i was her age. i got lost a lot. never could read a map well, unfortunately. i have a nav system on my smart phone, which my husband begrudgingly  lets me use sometimes. we won't discuss that issue.

anyway, we drive toward raleigh, and before too long,  the neighborhood began  to look  rather" interesting" . i said, " sweetie, are you sure we are in the right place?" do not ever question a nav system. my daughter's system speaks with a British accent ( my daughters idea) and when the english lady says " recalculating", well it is never a good thing. we continue on our way, and let's just say that i was  glad that  our car doors were locked. i almost jumped out of my skin, when the prim and proper voice announced that we were at our destination. for whatever reason, this zumba instructor had booked a space in a huge country and western bar. we worked our way through the assembly of cowboys who seemed to be guarding the door( perhaps they were anxious about zumba ladies invading their territory?) i am not sure if it was our "deer in the headlights" look, or the fact that we had on dance shoes instead of cowboy boots, but we were quickly ushered down to a smaller- but still huge to me- bar below. there was a stage in front of the dance floor. at the back of the stage was like hundreds of bottles of every kind of liquor you could imagine. since our instructor was late, i said, well, if she does not come, we can all have a drink! the woman behind me thought i was serious because she said, " that might be a really good idea!"

actually, we had four "helper" instructors that took over for about the first 15 minutes or so. i wore my pink belly scarf( i was the only one wearing one). the woman behind me( my new best friend) said she loved it. one thing about having cancer, you tend to do the things you love and don't worry too much what other people think- as long as you are not hurting anyone, i say go for it! the main "helper instructor" was heavily into hip hop music. i bet those cowboys had  never heard that kind of music coming out of their bar before. and i know that EVERYONE heard our music. they had it cranked up so loud, i think i lost a little bit of my hearing in my left ear. the floor actually shook( even when we were not moving)

finally our "real" instructor arrived- in a knee brace. the other instructors helped her a bit, but she gave us a really good work out. i was not going to admit it, but when my daughter said that she was sore the next day, i fessed up,too. the thing about going to different classes is that each instructor has different moves- even to the same songs. so you end up using different muscles. i still prefer my regular instructor at our wellness center-sorry cowboys- but it was interesting to go to a different class.

since our instructor had arrived late, she went over her allotted  time. the bar  manager walked out on the stage and gave us all the "death stare", whispered( he could have been yelling- we could not hear him at any rate) something to our instructor and dosey doed off the stage. at this point, we did our cool down numbers and called it a night. i asked my daughter to please not come back to the bar alone- if she could take a friend, it would be best. i sure am glad we did not do the "save a horse" song.

as you may know, i got to get off of the LID diet this weekend. the final tally, was that i lost ten pounds! ( i told you guys chelsea clinton used this diet to get thin for her wedding). anyway, i found out for sure that i am lactose intolerant. i will have to go easy on the dairy- especially when i am working. maybe,too, by limiting dairy, i can keep some of the weight that i lost on the LID off.

i will not have any results for two weeks or so, as i mentioned in one of my earlier blogs. the minute i get the news, i will let everyone know. thanks again for your thoughts and prayers, and of course, for reading my blog.

Friday, August 5, 2011

my last day at the emerald city ( i sure hope, anyway)

got there bright and early this morning- i have not slept in one day this week! i buzzed on down to radiology and they started my scans. they are so nice and friendly there, and have made this whole experience very pleasant for me( well, expect for Conan, i guess) .

i am not sure what the machine is called- well, i do know the name on the side" DETECTOR ONE" ( do you think  that there is a detector two and three?) they gave me pillows for my head and under my knees( the scan takes about 45 minutes .) one of the technicians also got a warm blanket for me. i know it is hot outside, but hospitals are so cold! the blanket felt wonderful. i had prepared somewhat, and had worn a light sweater, but the blanket was heavenly. the "scanning part" of the machine was a box like contraption that was about 3 feet across,3 feet long, and about half that in moved very, very slowly over every part of my body. the only part that was a little disconcerting, was when it was over my face. it has a black X on the center. i had a somewhat claustrophobic feeling then, so i just closed my eyes. when it got down to about my chin, i was o.k. it scanned my entire body, and then they scanned just my neck. i am sure hoping that this extra scanning is procedure, and not something that they saw on the scan!

next up was something new to me. they did not do this last year when i had my first whole body scan. i sat in a chair and they used this "telescope" looking machine pointed at my neck. they were measuring any radioactive iodide that might be present. they also measured my knee. weird, but they needed something to compare it to. this only took a couple of minutes. i then said my farewells, i have become friends with these guys, and left for the lab.

just so things would not be perfect, the lab did not have my blood work orders( i checked on monday- i saw with my own eyes that the hospital did  receive them from my doctor). they told me that i had to go back to admitting and get them. it seems( and believe me this was after a while) the person who registered me, had forgotten to put in the orders, so i had to be re-registered( hey, i got a new bracelet out of it). finally the lab got my orders. the med tech who drew my blood was so nice, but for whatever reason, i have the planet Saturn( i swear, i wish i could include a picture of my arm here) temporarily tattooed on me.i hate to say that i am used to getting blood drawn, but as fellow thyroid patients, you know what i mean. i just do not really like it when they leave bruises on my arm. it makes me a little self-conscious when i go out somewhere.

so, i will wait now. my doctor will be calling me in about two weeks, when she gets the scan information from the radiologist, and the blood work back from the lab. she will probably end up calling me at work- because that is usually where i am. as i said before, hopefully i will not have to make a trip home.

on a happy note, i am visiting with my daughter and son-in-law this weekend. tonight, my daughter and i went to a zumba class in Raleigh. i was not sure that i could do it- this week has been intense, and i have not felt like attending any of my zumba classes at home. but i did it! not only that, the instructor asked us if we were instructors,too! wow, my daughter has her zumba certification and has taught a few classes, but me?? really?? i know she was just being nice, but it made me happy. maybe it was the pink belly scarf  that i wore tonight.perhaps  all of those silver  coins blinded her or worked some kind of magic. whatever, i had a great time, and am looking forward to the rest of the weekend. and i had cheese and chocolate for lunch! it just does not get any  better than that.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

do i look like i am glowing??

"the black dog barks at midnight", " when it rains, i prefer purple umbrellas", " the package has been delivered" in other words, i have swallowed the tracer capsule of the I-131. pardon my theatrics, but it just seems so surreal, like i am a character in a mystery/adventure novel or something.

so i got to the hospital early this morning. people who work there are getting to know me. i am making friends. anyway, i go straight to radiology, and wait a little while until they call me back. the radiology technician who has been working with me is very, very pregnant. i was really worried about her handing me the I-131 dose. i know it is a small dose, especially compared to the huge treatment dose that i received last year, but still. so she struggles in the door with "the dose" and a water bottle. i worriedly said, " uh, could i do that for you??" she said," oh, i am going to let you open the canister,etc. AFTER i leave the room." i was glad that  she had made that decision. i waited until she closed the door, then i picked up the canister. i am always amazed at how much it weighs! i mean, it is the size of a Campbell's tomato soup can, and it weighs about 5 pounds or more.the expressions : "lead foot" "get the lead out" take on all new meanings to me now.

so, i opened up the canister, and the walls were  solid except for a very small opening in the center. in the center, there was  a small glass vial. see why i am thinking" mission impossible" or something? i read the label( i can not help it- it is the pharmacist in me) to be sure that  i was  getting the correct drug/dose. sure enough, my name was  on the vial, with the dose of 3 milicuries- plus or minus 10 per cent. to compare, my treatment dose was 156 milicuries. yes, i know that this is a very small dose, and i am pretty sure i am not glowing, but i still am going to take some minor precautions. i realize that i am just " background radiation" at that dose, but i do not want to take any chances. i know that i am just being overly cautious,but no harm in that i think.

i drove straight home, and decided to take a nap. i had to have an empty stomach to take the dose, and was told not to have anything for an hour after my dose. i thought that i would just sleep a little to pass the time. i had the oddest dream,though. i dreamt that i was at a vending machine that contained shrink wrapped  packages of cheese-all kinds, and that i chose three packs( i am sure that mozzarella was one of them). beside the vending machine was a parking meter. a policeman told me that i needed to insert money into the parking meter and wait. i asked him if he was the cheese police, and he said of course. i guess everyone can figure that dream out.

i was talking to my daughter last night, and she did the sweetest thing. i told her that friday, after my scan and on the way down to her house, i was going to stop by whole foods and get some chocolate! she told me to go upstairs in my little office, and look behind the papers on my desk-the ones  near my bills. she knew i would not look there. what i found, was  two ( organic of course) " Justin's dark chocolate peanut butter cups"! my favorite. she had hidden them several weeks ago, when she was visiting. i am going to stash them in my pocketbook for friday. right now, i have them "hidden" in my top drawer. yes, i can wait until it is time to enjoy them. right now, i feel like  i am the queen of deferred gratification.

i will try to blog on friday about my scan, blood work, etc. but it might be later on in the weekend. thanks to all who have read this, especially those who  have made comments. i really appreciate your support!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

day two in emerald city

i was so afraid that the nurse i had yesterday would somehow be there today. maybe someone called in sick? lucky for me, he was having a good day off, and so was i. the nurse i had today, said," oh, you had ( i will not use his real name here, i will make up one) conan the barbarian yesterday? what hip did he use- oh, i see what side he used. i will give you your other thyrogen injection in the other side. " what a difference!! it was night and day. i could actually walk out the door after the nurse gave me the injection. i had my ice pack in the car. i used it, because my hip is a little sore, but to be honest it does not hurt as much as the other side. the medicine does sting a bit, and you can feel it going in and cursing through your muscle, but that is not any one's fault. the way the nurse chooses to give you the injection,however, does make a difference.lets just say i got lucky and got Glynda today.

tomorrow, i have to be there at 8am again for my tracer dose of the I-131. i am to  take the medicine and leave for home. i am planning on laying low tomorrow, and hoping that the medicine does not make me sick. i was really sick last year after the treatment dose of the I-131. i know that  the tracer dose is a lot smaller, but it brings back memories, i'll just say. i have to take it on an empty stomach, and can not have anything to eat for an hour after the dose. ( they want to make sure the I-131 guys get a head start. ready or not thyroid cancer cells, here we come!). actually, i hope the scouts do not find any. if they do, then they will have to call in the Calvary. my doctor says to "prepare myself" to have another treatment dose of the I-131. now how do you do that? i talked with personnel at work, and got a copy of some leave of absence papers, just in case i have to have another treatment dose. that is about as far as i have gone in preparing myself. if i have to, of course i will take another dose, but my body is telling me no,thanks, we had rather you go to the beach! talk about preparing yourself.

i feel fortunate to have been able to schedule this" scan week", for a week that i can have off. it is my short week, and i only had to have two days covered at work. ( i worked six out of seven days last week). anyway, besides a sore, well you know, i have been more emotionally drained than physically sick. i have slept a lot- when i got home both days, i passed out for over a two hour nap. i am coping the best that i can. this testing is sort of high anxiety for anyone dealing with cancer. my dad calls me a trooper. i am not sure that i am, but i am doing my best.

friday morning at 8am the scan begins. then after that, "important blood work". after i finish at the emerald city, i am headed for raleigh, and a special visit with my daughter and son-in-law. and i also have a date with some mozzarella and definitely a little  chocolate. it will be the week-end, so i will allow myself to have some stomach will just have to deal with it.

Monday, August 1, 2011

here i go again, back down the yellow brick road, AGAIN

this is day one of my trip down the yellow brick road. i am back at the same hospital where i received my treatment dose of I-131- my chemo, you could call it, as well as my whole body scan. not too much has changed from last year. i got checked in this morning at 7:30am. the hospital is an hour away from my house, so i had to get up at 5:30 and leave at 6:30 to make it. the rest of my appointments  begin at 8am, so i sure will not be sleeping in this week.

after i left admitting- i gave them a big chunk of my checkbook, and they gave me this neat plastic bracelet with my name on it, i went to the radiology waiting room. i knew that i would not be seeing the wizard, but i saw his two very nice assistants from last year. they went over a few things with me, about what would be happening when. i thought that i would be getting my scan done on wednesday,but that is not the case. actually, the tracer dose of I-131 is given to me on wednesday, and my scan is on friday, as is my blood work. the schedule, along with a few other details, were discussed, and the wizard's assistant told me that a nurse would be coming in to give me my first dose of thyrogen. the assistant laid out the thyrogen, as well as a pretty large syringe/needle that i was trying my best not to look at.

after a few minutes, the door opens and in comes a six foot three, burly male nurse! now, i know it should not matter one bit, but i guess i thought that i would be seeing one of the female nurses from last year. i think that i am a master at masking my feelings- my family tells me otherwise, and it must be true. the guy says, " yes, i am the nurse." i guess my mouth fell open or something- i just have to stop doing that. the first thing i thought of then, was well, thank goodness i wore my good pink underwear!

this is good information here: wear a skirt with an elastic waistband. that way, you can slip it down a little ( as well as your underwear) and will not have to flash any innocent people unnecessarily. i came up with this idea myself and it works pretty well. so i was "in position" and waiting for my injection. i was trying to " relax"- if you do not tense up your muscles, it hurts less. before i could actually do that, the nurse gave me the injection. i think that perhaps this man plays darts a lot. what an arm he has. the medicine itself stings for about 30 minutes, but i was sore all the way home. i felt every pot hole in the road,too. tomorrow, i get a thyrogen injection in the other side. i plan to take an ice pack to sit on for the ride home. i should have thought of that today.

before the nurse left, i asked," so, will you be here tomorrow?" he said that he  has the day off. yippee!! he said that i would be seeing kathy or sue tomorrow. i am pretty sure they are female. he also said that some of his worst  patients are other health professionals. do you think he could have possibly been talking about me?