Sunday, December 30, 2012

since you have a ticket for the hypothyroid train.....

ever feel like you have a ticket for the hypothyroid train? and that it is a runaway train, with no stops in sight? there are some inevitable symptoms of hypothyroid disease, and i think these are more pronounced with patients who have had total thyroidectomy ( cancer, graves, goiters,etc). i thought that i would cover some of  the most common, and heck, why not, some uncommon symptoms of hypothyroid disease- with an emphasis on those of us who are missing our butterfly.

i guess that my number one symptom, or complaint, is the persistent tiredness. now, i know that most people, especially this time of the year are tired- all the holiday festivities, and chores, but for those of us with a thyroid problem, it just seems like  too much to deal with  sometimes. of course, the best solution would be " get more sleep". sounds easy enough, but tell that to a mother with young children, or a not so young mother( ahem, me) who is taking care of her beloved grandson for the weekend. i try my best to stay away from caffeine- i have one cup of tea with caffeine in the morning to get my engine running, and the rest of the day i just drink decaffeinated tea. i think that too much caffeine will  cause the inevitable crash at some point. also, for those of us with blood pressure or heart issues, it can increase our blood pressure, or cause some heart palpitations. if i hear one more rave about how great raspberry ketones, or green tea extract is for weight loss or energy, i think that i will scream! these products are useless. raspberry ketones have been around for a long time, and the reason that the public has not heard of them is because one would have to eat about a wheel barrow load to get the desired weight loss effect. also, green tea extract is caffeine- a powerful stimulant, and this can cause the above mentioned side effects.

so, if you can not get more sleep at night, perhaps you can get in a short " power nap" during the day. this is not possible for me unless i am not working, as i am sure is the case for most people. actually, exercise is a great energy booster. i will admit that i sometimes want to back out of zumba class because i feel too tired to be there. luckily, my husband always encourages me to go. i find that once i get started, i get my second wind, so to speak, and i feel more energized for a day or so afterwards. now, if you do not enjoy zumba( or beautiful, sparkly, belly scarves) a brisk walk should do it. find your joy- find out what exercise you can do that is fun and does not seem like a chore. if you dread being there, going to exercise class, or whatever, you are not going to do it, period. that is" all i got" on this issue. if someone has other ideas, please let me know.

another important issue for hypos, is dry skin. and i am not talking about just a little dryness, think the Sahara desert. the best solution is to drink plenty of water- works from the inside out. besides, water is so good for many other reasons. i take two large water canteens( i just love ll bean) with me to work every day. i drink one before lunch, and one after. i think that this has really helped my skin. of course, it is also important to slather on plenty of a good body lotion- i like organic ones- less icky stuff to be exposed to- right after your bath or shower. slightly damp skin will just soak it up. reapply lotion to hands after washing, and to exposed face and skin after being outside in the cold and wind. do not forget your lips! i keep several tubes of lip balm with me- my pocketbook, beside the bed,etc, so that i can apply several times a day.

o.k. these are just two symptoms of hypothyroid disease. i will go over two or three more next time.i sincerely hope that these ideas will be helpful. i know they are simple ideas, and have surely been discussed before, but maybe it is a good idea to review them when one has a one way ticket on the hypothyroid train.

Friday, December 21, 2012

who's got a beard that's long and white? santa's got a beard that's long and white. who comes around on a special night? santa comes around on a special night. special night, beard that's white. must be santa, must be santa, must be santa, santa claus. ....reindeer sleigh, come our way, ho ho ho, cherry nose, cap on head, suit that's red, special night, beard that's white. ....dasher, dancer, prancer, vixen, comet, cupid donner, blitzen, must be santa, santa claus " i like the version that bob dylan does on his Christmas album, Christmas in the heart

i guess  you can tell that i have a little grandson in my family now! i get to sing fun songs( well, play them anyway),visit  the toy section( not that i did not sneak a peek before i had a grandchild) and generally share the christmas magic through the eyes of a child again. with all of the unspeakable tragedy that has come about lately, it is a reminder that life is indeed precious, and we should appreciate each and every day. the most important take away from having had  cancer is that i realize this fact, and have tried my best to incorporate it into my every day living. not that i am perfect by any means. i still let little stuff, usually at work, bother me more than it should. i rush around and do not always take the time to notice the good, little stuff that is all around us. i also worry too much about, well, everything. i think that i am stuck with the worrying thing, but i am making some progress on realizing what is really important, and appreciating the beauty around us.

on several blogs i have noticed that the authors give tips for " avoiding those holiday pounds". well, guess what? you will not read about that here! enjoy the good food- all things in moderation of course. it is a gift to be able to cook something special for your loved ones during the holidays. when i see my family really enjoying a special meal or dish that i have prepared for them, well, it makes my heart sing. the way i see it, we can all go back to healthy eating when we make our new year's resolutions. now, do you not feel better? so the advice here, is have that slice of pecan pie, or whatever, and enjoy it to the fullest! probably best to stop with one piece,though, but do not deny yourself one of life's simple pleasures.

i want to thank everyone who has been reading my blog this year and wish you all merry christmas/happy chanukah or whatever holiday(s) that you celebrate. i wish everyone much happiness during the holidays,  and if i could give everyone one gift, i would give you  the gift of time. that is one thing that we all need more of, isn't it? i will try to write more blogs this year that are interesting and helpful to cancer patients at all stages in our journey. when i was first diagnosed, ideas for  blogs just came pouring out. and i had so much to talk about- diagnosis, treatment, etc. now, i am sort of at a turning point in my journey( i prefer this over the word " disease") i still have the every six months testing to deal with, but in a way i feel like, o..k. what now? the doctors have fixed my boat up, done what they could, and set me back upon the water again. my life has changed in many ways, as i have said. most of them good. i am a two year cancer survivor, but i still think about having cancer every day. i try my best to be motivated and positive, and i am fortunate that i get to counsel patients at work on having hypothyroid disease, and yes, sometimes, thyroid cancer. i feel like i am making a difference- a small one, but a difference none the less.

i received an email from an organization that i think might be helpful to other cancer patients. it offers support through homemade( and beautiful) cards. the website address is: i think that sending  a beautifully hand made card is a nice way to show support for a cancer patient. my daughter's students ( she teaches ninth grade english, bless her!)  all made me  cards before i had my surgery. i just can not say how much those have meant to me. so, check it out and enjoy.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

How is everyone holding up?

this is such a hectic time of year! exciting, fun, reflective,but hectic. i started early on my Christmas " chores" this year, for once. but i still find myself worrying that i am getting behind on my schedule. this is an " every other" year for me. my husband and i have grown children- and one grandchild, of course, and we have to share their presence on holidays. we did not get to see them on thanksgiving this year, but Christmas is at our house! i am getting so excited about having everyone here at our house for the holidays. there is a lot of work- outside and inside that needs to be done before then, but my husband and i really enjoy getting everyone together. our grandson has been the "glue" that has kept our family  together after my dad passed away last year. it was a blessed event after our family tragedy.

depression is a serious result, or symptom of thyroid disease. this is sometimes magnified during the holidays. i miss my mom and dad so much, and i think about all of the happy times that we had together during holiday celebrations. sometimes people are embarrassed to admit that they are depressed. it is a medical condition, and as i mentioned, a symptom of untreated, or under- treated hypothyroidism. there is not any reason to be embarrassed to ask for help with this issue. talk therapy, exercise, a correct dose of thyroid medication can all help. if this fails, then anti-depressants can be helpful. think of it as having high blood pressure, or diabetes. it is a health condition that needs to be addressed and treated. i think that for the most part, people are understanding this and do seek treatment as they would for any other health related issue.

i can not stress enough how important getting enough sleep is! adequate sleep helps our immune system ( very important this time of the year!) and decreases the levels of cortisone in our bodies. increased cortisone can lead to a multitude of problems, ultimately leading to stress on our immune systems and perhaps making us vulnerable to disease. this news is flooding the magazines now, but i think that it is important. if we can do this one simple thing to improve our health, why not?

i started early this year, as i said, and it has made for a less stressful time for me. ( notice i did not say stress free). when i get too wound up, i think about what this time of year really means to me. family time, helping others less fortunate, and yes, taking care of myself so that i can care for my family. if i had one wish for everyone i would wish for more sleep for you, and a less stressful, but joyful holiday season. getting chores done is necessary, and can be fun, but take time for yourself. a bubble bath, reading a book, yes, even taking a zumba class should be on the top of your " to do" list. maybe i will see you there.

Friday, November 30, 2012

"Grandma got run over by a reindeer. walking home from our house, Christmas eve. you can say there's no such thing as santa, but as for me and grandpa, we believe. she'd been drinking too much eggnog, and we'd begged her not to go. but she forgot her medication, so she staggered out the door into the the goose is on the table, and the pudding made of fig. and a blue and silver candle , that would just have matched the hair in grandma's wig." Grandma got run over by a reindeer, by elmo and patsy

after you have thyroid cancer, and lose your butterfly, your body goes into full blown  hypothyroidism. before i found out that i had thyroid cancer, and before my surgery, i had some of the classic hypothyroid symptoms, but not all. now, i find that i have every single one of them. so, along with dealing with the challenges of have had( hopefully) cancer- both physical and mental changes, i find that my body is on turbo-hypothyroid mode. this has presented challenges for me- i am still trying to adjust to  and deal with some of the changes. 

since i am now a proud, first time grandmother, i feel that i can use the lyrics of this humorous holiday song to illustrate some of my problems.i honestly think that it the grandmother in this song had thyroid disease- maybe she was distracted ( another symptom) and that is why the reindeer got her.

first example: the title, or "grandma got run over by a reindeer". i feel like that reindeer ran over me,too. i get so tired, well sometimes, beyond tired. i know this is a busy time of the year- so many things to do, even if they are fun things. but these holiday errands or chores( hate to use that word) are just added onto work duties, house cleaning,etc, and all the other things that we all have to do everyday. i have been trying to go to bed earlier, but i find that this time of year i tell myself, well, i will do  just one more thing before bed...... and of course i end up getting less sleep.being tired is probably the number one hypothyroid "problem" for me.

next, she'd been drinking too much eggnog. well, i do like to have a glass of organic wine now and again. but i read in one of my thyroid books, that the "hypothyroid liver", to quote the author, metabolizes alcohol in a different way than a normal person's liver does. guess i will have to pass on the eggnog this year.

"she forgot her medication". oh the horrors of that! that is truly a disastrous event for me, or any other hypothyroid patient. i forgot my thyroid supplement the other day, and i just had to drag myself through work. amazing how much thyroid patients depend on that one little tablet in the morning to get us through the day! and of course, it must be taken on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning, to get the full effect. i had that fuzzy( but not warm) feeling the day i forgot to make my medication.

about hair loss ( grandma's wig). i lost quite a bit of hair, actually, after my surgery and I-131 treatment. it has mostly grown back in, but some days i feel that i could use a wig! the texture seems to have changed also. this is an important issue! you only have to glance at the magazines in the store to realize how much hair matters to women( and i secretly think to men,too. even if they are not going to admit it) 

so grandma had an untreated thyroid problem, and as a result, got run over by a reindeer. hopefully this grandma can make it through the holidays without incident. and by the way, i have ALWAYS believed in santa. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

" i have climbed the highest mountains, i have run through the fields, only to be with you, only to be with you.,,,,but i still haven't found what i'm looking for. i still haven't found what i am looking for. " i haven't found what i am looking for, by U2

i STILL did not get to see the wizard, but i did get good news yesterday! my diagnostic mammograms on both sides were unchanged, no monsters present, i guess, so i get to go back to yearly, not bi-yearly mammograms! yippee!!! perhaps someone thought that thyroid and skin cancer were enough for me to have to deal with. i really was not worried about the results of the test,though. i was just afraid that things would snowball, and i would be having a biopsy,etc. like i said, i am sick, sick, sick of testing and would like to take a break from it for a while. my next thyroid ultrasound/blood work tests are in march- i will deal with those at that time.

i talked to a friend of mine the other day. she had breast cancer and i asked her how she was doing. she said that she was doing great, feeling great and for the first time in eight years she actually did not spend a part of every day thinking about having or having had, cancer. wow, that is my goal! i am not there yet, being a two year cancer survivor. i was looking forward to the  "the five year" all is clear, shout hooray, mark, but my endocrinologist spoiled it for me. when i asked her if the five year mark was the end of worry, so to speak, she said no, that  unfortunately she had a patient who had a recurrence after seven years. darn. this lady has to repeat the I-131 and add on a little radiation. i have not had the heart- even if she could/would tell me- how this patient is doing. my endocrinologist told me( she knows what a worry wart i am) that if my cancer does come back not to worry- " we will get it".

i started using my imagination and tried to figure out how they would "get it". perhaps a trap? what bait would they use? perhaps they could offer up my last two parathyroids- sorry, boys, someone has to do it. they took out eleven lymph nodes,too. i am still getting some salivary stones two years after my I-131 treatment. they cleared up for a while, but THEY'RE BACK! of course, i have to remind myself that the painful lumps in my jaw area are  just that-   salivary stones- and not the nasty thyroid cancer  cells invading my lymph nodes. i would feel more comfortable about my blood work  if i did not have thyroglobulin antibiodies. this condition is very confusing to me. i have read and re-read the section in " my favorite" thyroid cancer book by sara rosenthal. i even asked my endocrinologist about it. ( i actually pointed out the section in the book during my last visit with my endo) . my endo said, well, it says here your body makes the thyroglobulin antibiodies. o.k. i get that part- but where? why? is there a better blood test available for those lucky people like me who mysteriously manufacture those antibiodies? bless my endocrinologist. i know that i am a pain in the butt.

so i am not" one with my body" again. i do spend some part of most days thinking about my cancer. there, i admitted it. but i have so many great things going on in my life now. i have a wonderful family- including the cutest grandson on the planet- and there is my faith, of course, and last, but not least, Zumba! yes, that exercise class keeps me from totally losing it. i enjoy my work, most of the time, and i have some great friends. until the time i can truly say i am rid of, done with, over that, had enough of , etc, cancer , i will live my best life. whoops, sorry oprah. i think that you said that first.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"....go with the funk, it is said. that if you can't groove to this, you probably are dead. so wave your hands in the air, bust a few moves, fun your fingers through your hair. that is it for a winner, dance to this and you're going to get thinner. move, slide your rump, just for a minute, lets all do the bump, bump, bump. break it down! stop. hammer time!! you can't touch this! " can't touch this, by mc hammer

boy, just typing these lyrics is not nearly as fun as listening/ dancing to the song! it is not a zumba song, that i know of, but it would be a really good one! zumba has indeed made me thinner- or at least toned me up. i have noticed that is the case for many others in my class. it is so much fun, we hardly know that we are exercising. of course, i get so red in the face- no matter what i happen to do. i look like i have just completed the boston marathon or something. i used to be so embarrassed about this, but there is nothing that i can do about it- to prevent it from happening,etc. ( it is the red hair/freckles thing). there is a woman in my husband's spin class who does the same thing, so at least i have company.

next week i get to go to the imaging center for a double diagnostic mammogram. i am not sure why the radiologist is picking on me..... six months ago, i had a diagnostic mammogram on one side, and at that time he told the nurse to tell me that i would be having it done on both sides in six months. is it because i had cancer? is it because( some people believe this, some do not) i had a rather large dose of the I-131? and that may cause  me to  have a slightly  higher chance of having  breast cancer? i have questions to ask, and i believe that i am somewhat better informed this time. i wish that " the wizard" would come out from behind his curtain( he communicates with me via the nurse) and talk to me! perhaps i can smuggle toto in there to help me. he may in fact be the same " wizard" that administered my dose of I-131 two years ago.( well, he calculated the dose and had his space suit clad assistant bring it to me )  i decided not to go for the " deer in the headlights" look this time. i have questions, and by golly, if i have to pull back the curtain myself, i intend to get some answers!

you might be asking yourself why this song popped into my brain. i have decided that no matter what the doctors do to me- biopsies, surgery, I-131, ultrasounds, blood work, mammograms,etc, THEY CAN'T TOUCH ME. of course, they physically touch me, but " myself" inside belongs to me and me only. i am still the same person no matter what. i appreciate that the doctors are trying to take care of me, and i realize the importance of testing, but i am pretty sick of it.

so next week, while the wizard is hiding away in the next room, and the technician has me clamped down to the machine, i am going to be humming " can't touch this". if i get bad news i will deal with it. if i get good news, well..... i will go shopping of course. maybe i will go shopping anyway. then on to zumba class. maybe i will suggest this song to the instructor.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"sitting in the morning sun. i'll be sitting when the evening come. watching the ships roll in, and i'll watch them roll away again. i'm sitting on the dock of the bay watching the tide roll away. i'm just sitting on the dock of the bay, wasting time..." sitting on the dock of the bay, by otis redding

wow! it finally got here! vacation time, that is. i had to listen to my co-workers and friends talk about their summer beach trips, but finally my time to go arrived. my husband and i like to go to the beach in the fall. it is less crowded, yes- also, less expensive, and the weather is just great for a fair skinned redhead. i still use sunscreen and wear a hat with spf 50, but if i were to come here in the summer, i would look like a lobster in no time at all.

this has been about my most restful trip, or vacation, in quite some time. last year we came to the same place that we have been going to for about the past four years( the outer banks of north carolina) but it was just after my dad had passed away. we had had the privilege of taking him with us to the beach three times( one year we came twice- once in the spring and fall). he had his own room in the house- we rent the same one every year, so it was sad.last year,  i had already paid for the trip, so we went, but it was not really a happy time. this year, i miss him terribly, of course, but grief has a way of, while still being there, becoming a little less sharp. last year, we released a balloon over the ocean with a message to dad tied on the string. i think that i will do it again this year. on some level i think that he knows that we are here, and he is wishing us a good vacation.

o.k. sad stuff out of the way. i have been doing a lot of sitting on the " dock of the bay" while i have been here. my husband and i walked to the cape Hatteras light house yesterday which was about a two mile walk. i have been walking every day- hopefully it will help with the fact that i sure have been eating a lot of good food down here!( unfortunately, there are no zumba classes down here as yet.) i love to go shelling on the beach. my husband looks for sharks teeth, but i look for sea glass. it is my new favorite thing to collect. i have found about six pieces so far- one rather large, the rest, rather small. to me they are the little gems of the ocean. i love rocks and gemstones anyway. come to my house and you will see piles of them in window sills, on tables,etc. i like to look at them and be reminded of the beauty of nature.

i know that i have said it many times, but being sick has made me more thankful for the good times in my life. i have been going, going, going lately. i have been trying to fix up my dad's house to sell, as well as working full time. everyone, whether you have been sick or not, whether you have thyroid disease  or some other chronic illness, needs more rest time. we push ourselves to do more and more and at some point our body says:" no way, no how! i need to go sit on the dock of the bay and rest for a spell!"

another thing my husband and i have done is to go to the Pea Island bird sanctuary. we saw lots of ducks, geese, herons, and ibis, to name a few. it was a very peaceful place. we need more peaceful places to go to rest our spirits and re-fuel. i am about half-way through my vacation. i am not ready to go back home yet.. i am sure that by the end of the week, i will be missing home and my family and will  want to go home. it is a long time until next october,though, so i will just try to absorb all of this wonderful vacation and hope that it carries me through until next year!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

"........streetlight people, living just to find emotion, hiding somewhere in the night.....some will win, some will lose. some were born to sing the blues. oh, the movie never ends, it goes on and on and on and on. ..don't stop believing, hold on to that feeling. " don't stop believing, by journey.g

i just returned from seeing my endocrinologist for  my six month cancer check up. i had the blood work done ( they tested for tsh, t4, t3- the usual stuff, but also for thyroglobulin and thyroglobulin antibiodies. ) i had the blood work done at the hospital where i have had both my full body scans, as well as  my I-131 treatment dose after my surgery two years ago. i also had the blood work for this test(above mentioned) done at this hospital last time. i have read that the same blood sample from the same patient taken at the same time( lots of sames here, but you get the idea) can vary two fold from one lab to the next! i wanted to be consistent.

however, my doctor was not so impressed with the lab. my blood work was a "little off" she said. the numbers looked pretty good, i guess, but she did not like the way that the lab did the testing. that puts me in a little bit of a limbo. i had less than 0.5 on the thyroglobulin, but i have thyroglobulin antibodies. that basically makes the test, well, a little questionable. if anyone out there is getting ready to have their surgery, I-131, etc, make SURE to get a baseline test for these. i did not- wish i had. that would give my doctor a better idea of what was going on with me.

for the next six month check up, my doctor has requested that i get the blood work done at her office. i will need to drive down the week before my ultrasound/ appointment, but if it means a better test it is fine with me. my doctor is 4 hours away, but her office  is in the same city that my daughter resides in, so i get to visit her and her husband twice this coming march. that is also fine with me.

i do have happy news to report: there are absolutely no goblins growing in my neck! yeah! i was a little worried when the ultrasound machine  kept beeping, but the technician assured me that everything was fine. i still get choked on certain foods- i can not eat bread and chicken together without sitting next to someone who is an expert on the Heimlich maneuver. i do not get choked as much as i did before my surgery,though. still, it is comforting to know that there is nothing extra in my neck.

one thing that i encourage people to do, and that actually came in handy for me, is to keep a record of all of your tests. when i went to my doctor's office, i took a copy of my labs with me. turns out, they had either not received  the fax that the hospital sent, or the fax gremlins gobbled up my test before i got there. anyway, it was good to be able to give them a copy so that i could have a more meaningful appointment. ( i also have yet another copy in my records at home. this comes in handy when comparing results from the past two years). another thing that i had done( my endo  forgot to order this, so i asked my family doctor) was a calcium test. i only have two parathyroids- i had cancer in the other two( they up and left for Paraguay, if you remember from an earlier blog of mine). a person can make out o.k. with one functioning parathyroid, but i wanted to be sure my two little guys were working hard for me. turns out, my calcium was indeed low and i have to supplement.good to know since i want strong bones for zumba.

so, overall, i had a pretty good checkup. i can not say that these six month check ups are not stressful, but i am glad that my doctor is keeping a watch on things in case something does pop up. in the meantime, i am good to go! as with every one of us, i will just enjoy my life and hope for the best.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy thyroid cancer awareness month to you, happy thyroid cancer awareness month to you, happy thyroid cancer awareness month to ( insert your name here, if this applies ;) happy thyroid cancer awareness month to you !

happy thyroid cancer awareness month, everyone! jeez, what a thing to celebrate. but, it is good that the public is becoming somewhat aware of the fastest growing cancer, to date. you can go to a more scientific website and find out the exact numbers, if you would like . thyroid cancer is not the" biggest in numbers" cancer, but it  is the fastest growing type. i wonder why? is it because people are beginning to " check our necks" or is it something more sinister( exposure to cancer causing agents in our food, the environment,etc?)

one endocrinologist that i went to, briefly, asked me " now, just how do you think that you got thyroid cancer?" i was puzzled on that one. she asked me if, when i was a child, did my parents like to take me down to the shoe store and have my foot x-rayed  for the proper shoe size? i told her no, i came from a small town that did not have anything fancier than an old metal shoe sizer that you stood on. i got my toes pinched a lot, though.after trying on my shoes,  i had to stand up and the sales person would mash down with all of their might to make sure i had room on the end of the shoe ( to grow) . somehow i do not think that this contributed to my getting thyroid cancer.

i know that there is a higher incidence of thyroid cancer for people who have been exposed to radiation from nuclear power plants. i have never been to one of those, nor do i live close to one. the manner in which the endocrinologist was asking me " just how did you get thyroid cancer" made me feel somehow responsible for my illness. did i mention that i went to this doctor briefly? this doctor was supposed to be a specialist in treating papillary thyroid cancer, and worked at a very large and well respected hospital. the doctor might have been conducting a study about " how i got thyroid cancer and lived to tell the story", i am not sure. i also am not sure why i got thyroid cancer. i do not feel responsible for my illness,though. it just happened. but here is another example of taking charge of your health care- i went to another doctor. ( one who has never asked me this question, by the way.)

i was fortunate enough to hear from another thyroid cancer survivor while i was working  this weekend. i call them my "peeps", and i always stop what i am doing at the pharmacy to come out and say hello and ask how they are doing. this was the first time that i had talked to this particular man. when he was diagnosed and being treated( about the same time as me, by the way), his wife came in to get his medicine. i talked to her briefly, but i was glad to finally meet the actual patient. he had a very interesting story to tell.

first of all, he had the same kind of thyroid cancer as me- papillary- and he was in the same stage as me. we are about the same age,too. he also lost two of his parathyroids to cancer, as well as several lymph nodes. he had his surgery at a major hospital, not the same place that i went,though. his scar looks great ( like mine does, i hope) and he told me that he is feeling pretty good now. the part of this that is very interesting is how he got his diagnosis.

one day he was outside in his front yard cutting limbs from a tree when one struck him right in the neck! it left a huge lump that did not go away, even after ice packs,etc. he decided to go to the doctor and have it checked out. he had an x-ray, ultrasound ,and finally a biopsy. he did not even know that he had thyroid disease, much less thyroid cancer. his wife told me that it was God saying, " hey, buddy, look here!". i am not sure, but i am sure that it is very fortunate that this "accident" happened and that he was able to get treated before it was too late.

bottom line, it is not important to try to find out why we have thyroid cancer. most of us will never know the answer to that question. what is important is to check our necks, follow up with any treatments that we may need, and do not hesitate to seek out a new doctor if we need one.we need to  be responsible about our health care. if we  feel uncomfortable about something, we need to  do research- read all that we  can from reputable sources. books, the internet( again, reputable sources) can be thing that i can not stress enough is to keep a file containing copies of all lab work and correspondence concerning our is hard to remember everything- all the tests, results, etc. sometimes even keeping these can help our doctors with our treatment.

so, happy thyroid cancer awareness month to everyone. and i hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the good things in life. to end with a quote from my late dad : " LET'S HAVE CAKE!!!"

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

" you, with your words like knives and swords and weapons that you use against me, you calling me out when i'm wounded, you picking on the weaker man. why you gotta be so mean? " Mean, by taylor swift

this is such a good " telling off" song! i know that i would have loved to sing along with this during my teenage years. everyone knows someone who has been mean to them. i use these lyrics,though, in reference to an article that i read  about on ""- mary shomon's fantastic website about all things related to thyroid disorders. the article was written by a woman named michelle baker, for the huffington post. the title of the article is " THYROID CANCER? SIGN ME UP!!".  it seems that she may have thyroid cancer- she has nodules and one of them " looks suspicious". but poor dear, she believes her uninformed doctor when he told her, " hey, thyroid cancer, no big deal!" i suppose that a more appropriate song( if i could have thought of one) would have been " why do you have to be so STUPID?".

even if ms. baker's doctor told her that thyroid cancer is a walk in the park, even if a friend or two told her that( it seems the people who tell me that are never the ones who actually have thyroid cancer themselves) she, being a journalist, should have done extensive research on this topic herself and come to her own conclusions. let me list some of my pet peeves for everyone who has not read about them before:

1) ANYONE who tells me that thyroid cancer is the " good cancer"

2) people who will not take charge of their own health care, do research to be informed, ask questions,etc.

3) people who stay with a doctor that they know is not taking their concerns seriously( yes, at one time i belonged in this group, but i saw the light- eventually)


i believe that ms. baker is in for a shock. she has no idea about what obstacles that she will have to over come in her adventures with thyroid cancer. the surgery, the I-131 treatment dose, the struggle for a thyroid replacement dose that will keep her on her feet and feeling somewhat like she did before she got sick. and who knows? maybe it has spread into her parathyroids and/or lymph nodes? maybe her vocal cords will be injured by the surgery and she will end up with a different voice. maybe she will struggle with the after effects of the I-131 treatment. and oh yes, the follow up appointments every six months to see if the cancer is back.

a co-worker of mine lost her mother to thyroid cancer. i am sure that she would not be amused by ms. baker's article. i left a comment on the huffington post website. i encourage you to read this article and leave your thoughts, as well. maybe, just maybe, this author will see the light and realize that cancer is serious, and nothing is guaranteed. i certainly do not hope that ms. baker has thyroid cancer. but i just wonder.....
why does she have to be so STUPID???

Sunday, August 19, 2012

"i'm wide awake, i'm wide awake....i wish i knew then, what i know now....thunder rumbling,castles crumbling, i am trying to hold on, God knows that i tried,seeing the bright side....i'm wide awake, i'm wide awake. " Wide awake, by katy perry

sometimes i waste time wishing that  i had discovered my thyroid cancer earlier. if i had gotten it earlier, it would ( maybe) not have spread into my lymph node, or two of my parathyroids. i could have been a stage one or two instead of a three. but what good does this do? i have always believed that you have to play the hand you are dealt in life and who knows ( besides God, of course) what that will be. i am always trying to look on the bright side of things,though, and gather positive things from my experience.

but it is hard! it is difficult going about- o.k. i said that i would not be using the phrase the"new normal". now i have to come up with a phrase of my own. let's see- how about my ELE ( enlightened life experience) . i do feel sort of enlightened. i feel that i have been let in on a little bit of life's big secrets. you know the ones, the ones that are right there in front of you but you can not see them because you are focusing on all the wrong stuff. now instead of rushing all around, doing my chores, working,etc, i try to actually take a few moments to breathe and look around me.

the other day on my way to work, i saw a great blue heron flying over a small stream  near town. now,herons  are not too rare out where i live, but it is unusual to see one in town. i bet though, that i was one of the few people who saw the beautiful bird. people are rushing to work, rushing to school, rushing, rushing, rushing. i am making an attempt to slow my life down a bit. to notice people- say hello, open doors, that kind of thing. i also try to appreciate the beauty around me. not easy to do, i will admit, especially when i am at work.

my husband just had vein surgery this past week, and has been recovering. i got to take care of him for a change. he has been, and still is, so good to me. i guess now we both realize how fragile life can be, and how you need to appreciate every moment with someone special. i sure did not think about this when i was newly married and in my twenties. i felt invincible then- hardly ever sick, that kind of thing.

one of the things that my husband and i did this weekend was to see the new movie, " hope springs" with meryl streep and tommy lee jones. it was a really good and funny movie about marriage in your "later years" and how you need to nurture and take care of your relationship. i swear, we were some of the younger people at the movie theater though. the folks in front of us, and this is no joke, came in on walkers( bless their hearts and good for them!)

i also got to remove the bandaging from my husband's leg. he still has the steri-strips ( instead of stitches) and has to wear a compression stocking, but all of the bandaging( from his thigh to his foot) had to be cut off. we get ready to do it, and i had some bandage scissors- i thought that  i was  pretty prepared for this. i said, " honey, do you think that we should put down a towel on the bed?" he says, horrified, " A TOWEL? DO YOU THINK THAT THERE WILL BE BLOOD? " i was laughing so hard that i was crying. of course i did not cut him, and when i got past a certain area, he was fine. humor goes a long way if you have had cancer, or if you have a spouse, i guess.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"....kodachrome, it gives us those nice, bright colors. gives us the greens of summer, makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah! i got a nikon camera, i love to take a photograph, so momma don't take my kodachrome away. " Kodachrome, by Paul Simon

so, i have a small, digital camera. light enough to carry in my pocketbook( for all those unexpected grand baby sightings!). but my favorite camera by a long shot ( no pun intended, of course ), is a big old heavy nikon 35mm with a huge zoom lens. my husband purchased it for me when my children were adolescents, and were embarrassed by the mom paparazzi. i figured if i had a big enough zoom lens, i could get a good picture from far away and that maybe my children would be o.k. with it. so i have books, and books of photos and they mean the world to me. i know digital is the thing now, and i have certainly used my digital camera, stored my pictures on my computer, and let snapfish work it's magic and develop my pictures. however, there is nothing like picking out your own film- kodachrome- and loading that old 35mm up. i am distressed to find that what once was a whole wall of film( at walmart) is now delegated to a small section near the photo center. i am hoping that this will not be eliminated, at least not in the near future. of course, i am sure that i can order it off the internet( i am convinced that i can order anything at all on the internet. i put this to the test a couple of years ago when i was in "isolation" during my I-131 treatment. talk about surfing the web! i was riding a tidal wave, of sorts)

another thing that i like is books. not e-books, but REAL books. i do not own a nook, crook, or whatever those things are called and i do not think that i ever will. i love the feel of a real book in my hands- the smell of the print and paper when you first open a new book is marvelous. there is nothing like it. well, at least not in the electronic world. honestly, i have to stare at a computer all day at work, and i do not like to use one for my reading at home. i have a small "library" in my home. when we did our remodeling several months ago,  i wanted a place for all of my books.  we designated a room for my little library. it has built in book shelves on three walls, and the carpenter said " uh, jeez, miss, it sure is going to take you a lot of time to fill up all them shelves!" i have a news flash for him- i already need more shelves. i have some very old books that were passed down from family members. i have science books, and fiction books. i have a "children's section" that i am looking forward to sharing with my grandson. sometimes i just walk into that room and look at my books. perhaps i should have been a librarian.

you might think that i am old fashioned. i do like new ideas and current events,too. i still go to zumba! but i know what i like and that is not going to change. maybe old cameras and real books are comfort agents for me. i don't know about any of you, but when you have been sick, you tend to gravitate towards people, things, events, etc, that are comforting. i read a review of a book, and i honestly can not remember the title  or author, but the idea was that we can heal ourselves when we have serious illnesses. one of the author's ideas was to listen to beautiful music, and  not watch the news or other violent television programs. i did this instinctively, before i had heard of this idea. i just felt that i could not deal with anything more in my life at the time of my cancer diagnosis. i wanted to surround myself with comfort and calm. i am not sure that it helped in my healing, but it certainly did help my frame of mind.

so i recommend that you read a good book( electronic is o.k. if that is what you like). take a beautiful picture of a place that you love, or a person that you love. buy a belly scarf and take a zumba class. have fun! i am sure that most of us work very, very hard and need more fun in our lives. find your joy and go after it.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

piano man

this is a great video ( i think!) of my son dylan and his son gabriel playing the piano. i think gabriel will be a music lover like his dad and me. just reminds me of what is important in life, and also to appreciate the little gems in life that make life, well, life. enjoy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

" Get up, stand up. stand up for your rights. get up, stand up. don't give up the fight" get up, stand up by bob marley

through out my blogs, i have been trying to stress how important it is for thyroid patients to stand up for their rights. it is so important that we become self advocates for better health care . who knows our bodies better than we do? it is imperative that we, as patients, find a health care provider who listens- really, really listens to us along with looking at our lab values. and it is also important that there is a two way communication between our doctor and our self, so that we can map out the best course of treatment for us.

i have many examples( unfortunately) of" things gone wrong" between a doctor and patient , but i will use myself. if you have been reading my blog from the beginning, you may know that i, at one time, was seeing a doctor who thought that my symptoms were " just stress". he would see me once or twice a year, ask a few questions, pat me on the back and say good luck and see you next time. he was a nice person, just not a very good doctor. finally, i told my husband that i knew something was horribly wrong, that it was not " just stress" although i was dealing with some ( aren't we all?) at the time. i found a doctor who listened to me, ordered the right tests, and of course the rest is history.

at the end of that rabbit hole, i fell into "thyroid cancer world", and my world has never been the same. not that my life now  is horrible by any means , it is just different. i have a" new normal", to beat that phrase to death. some people have asked me " how did you know something was wrong? what were your symptoms?"    well, it was not just one thing. i felt a change in my body- a new tiredness- one more intense than, say, having a new baby and being up all hours of the night. it was a constant tiredness that sleep did not seem  to fix. that was one thing. and of course my blood work " looked awful" to use my doctor's phrase. of course, no one was willing ( or able?)  to do anything about it until i found the right doctor. another part of it was just the sense that i knew, somewhere deep inside, that i was sick and needed some help. call it intuition, call it your body parts waving a white flag and trying to get your attention, call it what you will, it was just a feeling.

i saw that darn " back patting" doctor for five years until i stopped fooling myself and did something to help myself. i highly recommend that for anyone reading my blog. if you have " this feeling" you are not getting good health care, if you have symptoms that seem strange even though you are getting treated for a thyroid condition( and this  includes all thyroid disorders, not just cancer) do some research and find a good doctor. it may take you a few tries, but you will get there eventually. to quote bob, " don't give up the fight."

i read a quote one time that i carry with me: " trust yourself, you know more than you think". i think that this is good advice for all of us, especially those of us who are dealing with life long health care issues like thyroid disease.

another important aspect of our health care is keeping good records- have a file that you keep copies of all of your tests in. this is so important, and it will be invaluable to you in the years to come. read all of  the information that you can get your hands on, from reputable sources, of course. one new website that has been brought to my attention is : this site contains very good reference articles on thyroid disease and care, and urges us to seek out better health care for thyroid issues. i encourage  everyone to check it out. i have already recommended some books on thyroid disorders, and of course mary shomon's site:

well, in closing, good luck to everyone in treating your thyroid disorders. be pro-active, ( another cliche) and get all of the useful information that you can. and of course, you can contact me at any time, and i will try to help any way that i can!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

"ow, we're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave.the temperature's rising, it isn't surprising...where else? the deep south. hot and humid nights can be expected....vincent: 95, guadeloupe: 97; santa domingo : 99, pardon me, 105???!!! " heat wave, this one sung by marilyn monroe

last weekend my husband and i went down to raleigh to visit our daughter and son-in-law. we live in the mountainous region of the state. it cools off here at night, and rarely gets above 90 in the hottest part of the summer.( i work in town, which is about 30 minutes away, and i can not say the same for the temperature there. it was over 100 several days the past couple of weeks.)

anyway, so it is 105 on both saturday and sunday of our visit. and it did not cool down at night. they have a wonderful screened-in back porch, but you could not even stand it out there- even early in the morning. their house is  air conditioned, so it was nice inside of course. but my daughter and i went shopping on saturday. i am not used to the heat! i know that i am cold intolerant, but i can not stand excessive heat,either. i am not sure if that is a symptom of thyroid disease or not. i know being cold most of the time is, but intolerance to heat? i can not find that symptom listed anywhere. another thing, and i know better of course, but i did not drink enough water/fluids either day. and guess what? i had heat exhaustion. i thought that i would mention the symptoms of heat exhaustion. let's review:

cool, moist skin with goose bumps in hot temperatures (check)
faintness ( afraid so)
dizziness ( a little)
fatigue ( nothing too new about this one!)
low blood pressure upon standing ( how should i know? i did not have my bp cuff)
nausea( big time. i thought i was going to lose my lunch- not cool when you are with your grown child)
headache( yep, and it felt like a different kind of headache than i usually get)

in case of heat exhaustion, and to keep it from going into something worse, i.e. heat stroke, stop all activity and rest! no matter if they are  having this huge sale at the loft, go home and rest! move to a cooler place( hard to find when it is 105). and lastly, drink cool water or sports drinks. o.k. here comes my disclaimer: contact your doctor if symptoms do not cease in about an hour. if they get worse, make sure to give her/him a call. seek help right away if your temperature is 104 or over. jeez, i get sick if my fever goes over 100. 

thankfully, things have cooled off a bit. but i know summer in the south, and soon it will be saying: I'M BACK!!! so please keep these symptoms in mind. better yet, drink plenty of fluids and limit your exposure during a heat wave. and do not forget to keep your thyroid meds cool! especially those folks who use naturally derived thyroid products, an example being armour thyroid. i would keep these in the refrigerator if i were you. besides, refrigerating them also keeps down, the, er, smell. if they get hot, they might not work as well for you. 

did i mention that i made it a whole class in zumba last week? i did the 10 minutes before and 10 minutes after the class on the recumbent bicycle. and i did not jump- i just shook my booty during those parts. our instructor put on her belly scarf half way through the class. and if i can ring up a few sales with the coins on my belly scarf, she can buy out the entire mall! oh, well, something to aspire to, i guess.

hope everyone is having a great summer, and stay cool!

Monday, July 2, 2012

a few of my favorite things ( and people)

my daughter called me today and told me that she has stress fractures in her foot, and must wear a "boot" for at least six weeks. well, you think i LOVE zumba! i am not even in the same category as my daughter when it comes to loving to do zumba. she also runs several miles a week. her doctor told her that she ,obviously, could not exercise until the boot comes off. she was very upset, and i understand this. my daughter is a little like me in this- when we have challenges in our lives, we take a little time to feel sorry for ourselves, then we move on to our "plan of action" in dealing with these challenges. she is going to do upper body exercises until she can get back to zumba and running. exercise is such a stress reliever for both of us, so i understand how losing that, somewhat, for a time can affect your moods and really even your quality of life.

my daughter posted this on facebook, and one of her college friends- who lives out west, wrote the absolute best comment on her situation. this friend of my daughters is a very special person with a unique outlook on life. when my daughter's friend was little, she had cancer and spent several months in the hospital and had some very serious operations. her friend is extremely bright- she graduated from duke university with honors, and could have chosen a very high paying job when she finished. instead, she moved out west- all by herself, and started a new life. my husband and i had the privilege of an over night visit from her on her way out there. because of her illness, she is very centered and calm. she knows what is important in life, and certainly, what is not. she is gracious, and appreciates the small, good things that make life enjoyable. i wish her the best in her new life, and hope that maybe some day she will be passing through this way and will visit us again.

i think that some things happen for a reason. not as punishment, but perhaps so that we can learn from our challenges and re-design our lives. hopefully, we can also share our knowledge with others and enable them to see life differently. i know that i appreciate my family, friends, and the small happy events in my life more than i would had i not gotten sick. i still have to try really hard, but sometimes i even manage not to get caught in the "road blocks to happiness" as i call them. these are things like conflict with others, every day annoyances, stress over, sometimes little things( this is especially hard for me because i am still a worrier). i have always been a spiritual person, but being sick has strengthened my spiritual beliefs.

so, i would like to wish my daughter the best in dealing with her new challenge. i would also like to thank her friend for her wonderful comment on facebook, and i hope that she has continued good health and happiness. in fact, here is to all of you that read my blog: i wish you joy, good health, the good fortune to recognize what is really important in your life, and lots of love. all you need is love, right? oh, that is another song, for another blog, i guess. 


Sunday, June 24, 2012

" you are my sunshine,my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are gray. you'll never know dear, how much i love you. so please don't take my sunshine away. " you are my sunshine

i had an amazing experience this weekend! my husband and i got to keep our little six month old grandson for half of the weekend. our daughter-in-laws parents got the rest of the weekend. we have to share, after all. anyway, it just made me realize how grateful that i am to be a two year cancer survivor. being a grandparent is a wonderful thing, and one that i am happy not to have missed. it is good sometimes to see the world through the eyes of a child. he is so happy about the smallest things, and that is something that all of us should try to incorporate into our daily lives. he " talks" to our cat, and gets tickled when he sees a bird or butterfly. he notices everything- he can not talk of course, but i can see it on his face.

i somehow had the energy to get up at 1am for a feeding. i know that with thyroid problems, everyone suffers from a lack of energy and sleep is incredibly important. but for this one day, my "mommy gene" kicked in, and i got up, no problem. the house was quiet- my husband and our pets were asleep. i was hugely rewarded for being up at that hour, by several gummy smiles, and several "words" of encouragement. we even managed to change a diaper and sleeper without waking anyone else up.

my cat, domino, was jealous. she did not like the fact that someone else was sitting in my lap. she never hissed or anything, but she just looked at him and squeaked at me( she never learned to meow, like a proper cat). she settled for sitting beside us on the couch, and one time his little chubby hand grabbed a bit of her fur before i could stop him. bless her heart,though, she was a trooper and did not move or hiss. i extracted her hair from his little hand, and washed it. domino was not hurt in any way, and he was excited to finally get to touch her.

since i have never been a grandmother before, i can not say if this time is somehow sweeter because of my illness. i do think that i appreciate it more than perhaps i would have had i not been sick. i do try to make every day count, but sometimes it is hard. you just get caught up in every day life- work, chores, bills, or whatever, and it is hard to appreciate all the beautiful things around you. my grandson is one of the best things to happen to me since i got sick. he is a wonderful reminder that despite our sorrows, there is happiness in the world around me, and i have a lot to be thankful for.

my son and daugher-in-law think that my husband and i did them a huge favor this weekend. they took their first vacation, or over-night trip away from their baby. they had a well deserved anniversary trip and i hope that they had a great time. actually, they did us a favor. we got to share in the happiness of a child, and it was a good reminder to appreciate all the little things, that, afterall, make life, life. i know that i have an ultrasound and blood work ( thyroglobulin/thyroglobulin ab) tests coming up in october. but until then, i am going to enjoy my life and try not to worry so much about tests. speaking of tests, i found out that i do not have to have a full body scan this year! no low iodine diet- yipee! although i would not mind the 10-15 pound weight loss that i always have when i go on it. my doctor relies on ultrasounds and blood work to check for any problems. any "set backs" as my grandmother used to say. i wonder what my grandson will remember about me? what i used to say or what we did together. i hopw that there will be many happy memories ahead for both of us.

wednesday is my last physical therapy appointment. my knee, while still sore at times, is doing much better, and i can go to half- zumba classes with warm up and cool downs on the recumbent bike. pt has really helped me and my physical therapist worked really hard with me to get my knee "zumba ready". i think that there will be some moves that i will not ever be able to do because of my knee, but you know what? i sure can shake my booty! nothing wrong there. do you think that gabriel will say one day, my grandma was old, but she did zumba and wore shiny, jingly, belly scarves to class!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

i'm b-b-a-a-a-c-c-k!!

i did not crash and burn in zumba tonight! it was only a 30 minute class ( for me) but i made it! several people welcomed me back, and i made a new friend and saw an old friend that i did not know was taking the class. the instructor gave me a welcome back hug. this is such a good class- see why i missed it?

the " no jumping" rule was hard to follow! i love to jump around, i guess, but i did not do it. and once or twice i started to do a move and my knee said " oh, no you don't!" so i just did something else. i may be rusty on some of the moves- but i am still the queen of booty shaking. we did some new songs tonight- new to me, i guess, since i have not been there since january. how i have missed those endorphins!! i was happy to be there and even happier by the time i left. i did the recumbent bike for 10 minutes before the class and for 10 minutes after like my p.t. advised. the recumbent bike is nice because it does not put any pressure( or much) on your knees. the motion helps to push fluid from behind your knees. i wish that i had known this before. i plan to warm up and cool down on the recumbent bike even after i get to do a full class.

i am going to class saturday- if my knee does o.k. the rest of the week. we only have zumba classes on some saturdays, so i do not want to miss one since i will be off. i am off next weekend,too. my daughter will be visiting, so i am hoping that we can go to that class together. my daughter is a ball of energy. she dances like i can only imagine! she moves body parts that i either do not still have, or never had to begin with. we laugh a lot, and it is one of the most enjoyable things that we do together. i have missed being able to go to some classes with her.

so, i have iced down my knee and taken some advil, just in case. hopefully, i will feel great tomorrow and i can get back on track. i have missed my "prozac-like" activity. i know that my family will be delighted that i am able to do  zumba again,too. which reminds me, i think that i need to order a few more belly scarves to celebrate.......

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

lots of brass instrumentation precedes this.... trying hard now, it's so hard now, trying hard now. getting strong now, won't be long now, getting strong now. gonna fly now, flying high now, gonna fly, fly, fly. " gonna fly now- or the theme from " rocky"

exercise tee shirt- check. new exercise shoes ( ones that will not stick to the floor- hopefully) -check. exercise pants( they fit! o.k. they are a little snug, but not too snug to wear)- check. belly scarves- check, check and check!! yes, it is official- i am going back to zumba tomorrow!! i went to physical therapy yesterday and my pt said that i could go back tomorrow for a half day, but no jumping. i can salsa until the coins on my belly scarf fall off, but no jumping or knee twisty movements. i will admit that it will be hard to modify my movements, but i have a big motivating factor- re-injuring my knee. if nothing else, i can just stand there and shake my booty,er, i mean my belly scarf.

physical therapy has been hard! my insurance company allowed 20 visits, and it took every one of them.  my physical therapist was excellent, but she sure put me through the paces! i was the only one coming out of there sweating and with a red face. but if it had not been for her, i do not think that my knee would be better now. yes, we both worked hard. rocky has nothing on me, hahahaha. i have done my exercises at home- yes, she gave me homework. and i will continue them for as long as i think i need them.

i met a man yesterday who is 94 years old. it took him a while to get in the door( he was using a walker) and to the exercise machine. i am not sure what this machine is called- it is not a rowing machine, although it sort of reminds me of one. i noticed that only people of a certain age get to use this. it sort of gently works their arms and legs. he said, " well, i guess you think it is silly for someone who is 94 years old to come to physical therapy." i said, " no, not at all! i am impressed that you are choosing to be active. it is good for you, mentally and physically." he was a character! he was flirting up a storm with his p.t.- who could not have been more than 23 or so. i could tell though that she was very fond of him.

never give up. that is my motto, i guess. i can see me( if only i get to live that long) at 94, going to physical therapy, or maybe even to  a geriatric zumba class, lol. yes, by the way, for those of you wondering, i will STILL be wearing my belly scarves! i like having a plan- being in charge of my health. i do not like to feel helpless, like there is no hope. cancer can make anyone feel helpless and defeated. exercise is one way that i can feel empowered. take that, thyroid cancer! i have had to modify my life to a new normal. but that does not mean that i can not feel in charge and not at the mercy of a disease. not everyone has to go to zumba class  of course. you can hike, bird watch, etc, whatever makes you happy. but i think that everyone DOES need some special activity or hobby. it is good for the mind and soul, i think.

of course i will let everyone know how my first zumba class since january( wow, will i be out of shape!) goes. i know that i will be humming the theme song to rocky( in my head)  when i get to zumba class. that is until" party rock "comes on( no lead in MY zeppelins )..... to be continued........

Monday, June 4, 2012

" i watch the ripples change their size, but never leave the stream. of warm impermanence and so the days float through my eyes, but still the days seem the same....time may change me, but you can't trace time. ..turn and face the stranger, oh look out you rock and rollers! pretty soon you're gonna get a little time may change me, but i can't trace time. " changes, by david bowie

unless you have had cancer, you can not possibly know how it is to face a major life changing experience and then somehow go on with your "new normal" like nothing has happened! you get this terrible diagnosis, try to gather all of the information about your condition as you can, consult with (hopefully) knowledgeable health professionals, and then come up with your plan of action. if you are lucky, things go well( like you had planned) and then you get to go back to your "normal" life. the problem with this idea  being that no matter how hard you and everybody else may try, you will never be able to return to your old life, your old normal being a thing of the past.

for one thing, your body changes. you have a scar on your neck now. at first my scar made me look  like i had auditioned for, and won, the part of the bride of Frankenstein. i made small children cry and run to find their parents. now, you can not tell that  i have a scar, most of the time- unless i swallow or turn my neck  a certain way. i have vitamin e oil to thank for that.oh, and a good surgeon. i should mention him, i guess.  i lost quite a bit of hair after my treatment dose of the I-131. don't you just hate it when your hair dresser mentions this fact? well, duh, i kind of know i am losing my hair, thanks for pointing it out! it did grow back though, and even came back a bit curly, as they promised in the cancer handbook.

and then, there is that low, to no energy part. that has been the worst for me. adjusting my thyroid replacement dose has been quite a feat. i am not there yet. i thought that i was, but my tell-tale heart gave me away. in other words, my endocrinologist heard my heart skipping a beat during my last exam, and decided to lower my dose. now i have an uncontrollable attraction to my bed- lets just say i am metal and my bed, a magnet. long work weeks wipe me out, and it takes me a day or so to recover. i know that i am getting older,too, geez. but i should be able to do more. push myself a little more. now my body says," no way, no how, that is it! had enough. " in other words, nap time.

it is difficult to explain all the crazy mix of feelings that you have when you get a cancer diagnosis. fear, anger, worry, frustration,anxiety,helplessness,etc. what do you do now? how will it affect your family and loved ones? what if the damn stuff comes back? how do you put this out of your mind and live your life,even though it is your life, but it is not. it is your new normal and somehow you must learn to cope with all the changes.

i am still working on the answers to these, and many more, questions. i am thankful to be cancer free for two years, and i am thankful for every good test that i get back, even if testing makes me anxious. i am just taking one day at a time, and trying not to be too hard on myself. it is all just part of my new normal, i guess.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

" if you want me, gimme a little sugar, if you don't want me, don't lead me on girl. but if you need me show me that you love me. and when i'm feeling blue and i want you, there's just one thing that you should do.... just gimme some kind of sign girl, on my baby, to show me that you're mine girl, all right." Gimme little sign, by don dixon

when these lyrics popped into my head, you know the story- the quarter went in, but i had to shake the jukebox a little to get it to play! this song is by an artist who had a group( and i am really, really showing my age here) called arrogance. they were extremely popular at unc-chapel hill, where i went to school. i never missed one of their concerts when they were in town.( they toured some, but were originally from the chapel hill area )  mr. dixon went on to become a famous record producer for REM and other groups, and the band broke up, to my dismay. i guess this seems fitting to remember a group from my past, this close to memorial day. first and foremost, of course, we remember our service men and women on this day, but i also remember my family and friends who have passed away. especially, i am remembering my parents, which i do basically every day. i wish that i had had them with me for a while longer, but i am thankful for the time that we did have together.

this weekend,my husband and i  went to see our  children and their spouses, and of course our grandson. while we were in cary, i met a man whose wife had had cancer surgery at the same hospital where i had mine. we could have even had the same surgeon, but i did not ask. "bill"- not his real name, is a very tall, big man, i would guess in his early 40's. his wife is a one year breast cancer survivor. now, bill is a man's man- big, strapping guy, no nonsense, but as nice as can be. he told me that next week, on the exact one year anniversary of his wife's surgery, he will be wearing a pink shirt. how great! he was a little worried about wearing pink- i am pretty sure that he has never worn a pink shirt before! but at the same time, i think that it is a very sweet gesture, i know his wife will appreciate it, and, well, considering his size, i am quite sure that no one will tease bill too much about his shirt color. that got me to thinking about next year. ( this part is a message to my husband) " honey, will you please wear a shirt to honor my, it will be, third year cancer free anniversary?" only problem is though, thyroid cancer has three colors. they are pink, teal, and what they describe as dark blue( looks like purple to me). i guess we will just have to work out how we will do this later.

i love hearing stories about how family members support cancer patients. my husband told me that a man who comes in his store had on one of those yellow,plastic  cancer bracelets. my husband asked him if he was into biking( lance armstrong) and he told him no, that he wore it for his wife. turns out, his wife had thyroid cancer about ten years ago and he has worn the bracelet  ever since in honor of his wife. these signs of support mean a lot to me, as i am sure that they do to other cancer patients . my husband wears a cancer bracelet for me,too. and i am pretty sure that next year , on may 19th , he will be wearing a new color of shirt,too!

i have thought about how small signs of support like these mean to me, and other cancer patients. i can only imagine how our family members and friends must feel about them. i suppose  it makes them feel like they are helping us with their love and support- showing us and the world how much they care about us and want to help. this goes way beyond a shirt color or a bracelet, of course, but it sure is good to see our families/friends making a statement for us. and next week, i hope that bill has all of  his coworkers and family cheering him on the day he wears his pink shirt. i know i will be.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"hey,hey! now it's mambo, italiano. hey, mambo, mambo italiano. i love-a how you dance rumba, but take some advice, paisano, learn how to mambo. if you're gonna be square, you're never gonna go nowhere. hey mambo, mambo italiano! hey mambo, mambo italiano! go, go joe, shake a- like a gioviano. hello, guesadicha. you getta happy in the feets- a when you mambo italiano!" Mambo Italiano, by many artists . i like the one by bette midler.

actually, i love to salsa more than any other dance that we do in zumba. i could just salsa all class period, if our instructor would do that. i have not been to zumba in so long, i am not sure what they are doing. today in physical therapy, my physical therapist said " we are going to do some zumba moves!" she sure knows how to motivate me. what they were actually, were lunges. all kinds of lunges. lunges to the side, back, front, across the room, on a special exercise ball, etc. . boy, do my thighs hurt this evening! and i can tell you that it is not zumba! no great music, dance moves, or belly scarves. for the first time, though, i actually feel like i am going to get better enough to go back to zumba before too much longer. i may be rusty at first, but by golly when we do lunges i will be on top of things! i am the only one, it seems, who comes out of physical therapy with  sweat dripping off of me, and with a red face. my daughter seems to think that i have a personal trainer instead of a physical therapist. whatever you want to call it, it sure has helped. it took longer than i would have liked though, and i almost got discouraged, because my crazy work schedule only allowed one visit per week, most weeks. next week, i get to go twice. ( double the lunges, i guess).

i am starting to adjust somewhat to my new levoxyl dose. my energy is returning somewhat,even  on the "137" days. i still have more energy on my two "150" days per week, though. i figure that it averages out to about 140mcg a day. it still amazes me how just a tiny dose increase/decrease can affect your body in such profound ways. i realize that not having a thyroid makes getting a correct dose for me more difficult. i also know that it will have to be adjusted probably many times in the years( i hope) to come. thankfully, my doctor is willing to compromise with me on the dose. she pays attention to how i am feeling, not just the lab results.

this is my long week at work because i work the weekend. that makes a six out of seven day work week. on saturday, i will celebrate my, drum roll here, please,  TWO YEAR CANCER FREE ANNIVERSARY!! i bought a special black and sequined top to wear to work. i am not sure why, but i wanted to wear sequins to work that day. i am a fairly conservative dresser, but this is a very special occasion to me, obviously. i also am wearing my sparkly allegria shoes with the rhinestone buckles. i figure if anyone gets too close to me, they will be blinded by all of my bling! i plan to add some sparkly jewelry,too. no one knows about my "dress" plans for that day- except of course for you guys. i am looking forward to some element of surprise on that day. usually on saturday, i dress more casually, so it should really be a change. i am also making cupcakes to take to work that day. i always plan on having some kind of cake on my anniversary day, as well. i hope those of you celebrating cancer free anniversary days do something special. something that makes you happy. i am still learning from my "adventures with cancer" but one thing i know for sure, i really, really try to make every day count and i try to be happy. even if it is just a little thing. a salsa. a belly scarf. a little bling on your clothes. a cupcake.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

"we skipped the light fandango, and turned cartwheels 'cross the floor. i was feeling kind of sea sick, but the crowd called out for more. the room was humming harder, as the ceiling flew away. ....and so it was that later, as the miller told his tale, that her face at first just ghostly, turned a whiter shade of pale." Whiter shade of pale, by procol harum.

last week i had to have a diagnostic mammogram. it was because the radiologist " saw something" on my last mammogram six months ago. my, does time fly! i got all worked up about the last one( they called me back a few days after my regular mammogram in november  and told me that they needed to do a cone mammogram) this time however, i decided not to get all worked up about things. i was going to drive myself to the mammogram center, but my husband decided to come along at the last minute. it is a two hour round trip drive, and our only day off for the week. but i am glad that he did.

so, the technician does the mammograms- she did the cone one,too. yeah. have you ever had a cone mammogram? the first time i saw the "plates", i am not sure of the correct term, i thought, now just how am i going to fit in there? somehow i did,though. the main problem i have when i have mammograms is that i start holding my breath too soon. the moment the technician turns the clamp, so to speak, i automatically hold my breath. so she gets over there to her machine, and says" hold your breath now", but of course, i have already started without her. the rate i am going, i should be able to break the record for breath holding before too long.

i can not tell you how long it seemed before the technician came back into my little cubby.  instead of telling me, o.k. great, you can go home now! she said," uh, the radiologist said that he needs to see more pictures in this one area." have you ever wondered how i go about getting my song ideas for my blogs? well, my mind is like one of those old fashioned juke- box players  that used to be  in diner type restaurants. i have all of these songs up there waiting, and some event happens, and boom, i put a quarter in, and it plays an appropriate song. i have not thought about this song in ages, although i loved it. i can tell you though, when the technician came in and told me i needed to go back in for more pictures, i am sure that my face was indeed a whiter shade of pale.

so i have more pictures taken  on the" trouble making" side, and wait some more. this time, the special nurse comes in and tells me that everything is o.k. the radiologist thinks that this looks the same- no changes- from last year. he just wanted to make sure. well, i am thankful that he is thorough. i have to come back in six months and do it all over again- this time on both sides. i am also thankful that my husband went with me. he said," wow, you look a little pale, is everything o.k.?" when you have had cancer it is hard to have tests, as i am sure  most of you who read my blog  already know. it is also hard,though, on our loved ones. it was a quiet trip back home.  i guess  i should have been turning cartwheels across the floor, but  i just felt like i had dodged another bullet.

my children and grandson are coming home later today. i can not wait to see everyone! i am going to " kiss my grandson until his hair is wet" as a good friend of mine says. and i will be thankful that everything turned out o.k. happy mothers day, everyone!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"....say, here i am, on the road again. there i am, up on the stage. here i go, playing star again, there i go, turn the page. ....out there in the spotlight you're a million miles away. every ounce of energy you try to give away. as the sweat pours out of your body, like the music that you play. here i am, on the road again. there i am, up on the stage. here i go, playing star again. there i go, turn the page." Turn the page, by bob seger

i guess that i have been fortunate for a while to be off of the "thyroid-less roller coaster." i felt pretty good, and i know that it was because my thyroid levels , up to now, have been  good for me. since my endo has changed my dose though, i feel like i have a one-way ticket on the thyroid-less roller coaster, a never ending ride. i sort of feel like dr. jeckyl and mr. hyde. one day i am upbeat, have some energy, feel like my new normal and i think that people might actually like to be around me. the next day,however, i am grumpy, tired, and,well, sort of mr. hyde-ish. my husband has started asking me, " uh, honey, is it a 150 or 137 day?"( a reference to my levoxyl dose that day). no doubt he asks this so he can make " outside plans" for the day.

i am still hopeful that my thyroid  levels will level out and perhaps i will feel better, but i am not seeing it yet. i rotate my two precious 150mcg days to my two  busiest work days, so that i will have more energy and actually be able to drive home after work, haha. yesterday was a good day- (150), but i needed it to work my evening shift and it was the first of the month. (anyone in pharmacy or health care knows the horrors associated with the first of the month. it is legendary.) today is not so good. i am having a bumpy ride for sure( you could ask my husband, but he is outside working on the yard, he told me that he has LOTS of things to do out there today. ) here is the thing about being thyroid-less. if you have thyroid disease, but have your thyroid, the little guy may not be doing his job very well, but at least he is pumping out a little thyroid hormone.this makes a change in dose, while not so pleasant for sure, a little bit easier to handle. if your thyroid has up and left you, you depend 100% on your thyroid dose to keep your body up and running.

the reason that this bob seger song  came to mind when i was thinking about this blog, is that no matter how badly thyroid patients feel, we all have to hit the road, get back on stage, and do the best that we can. i suppose that anyone dealing with chronic health issues has to be able to do this,too. one way to cope is to have a special activity- physical activity is best for me. i am still going to physical therapy in hopes of getting back to zumba class. my knee is still not 100%, but i am getting there slowly. monday when i was at physical therapy, i really got a work out. i actually worked up a sweat, and my muscles- especially my thighs( we did "zumba lunges" as my therapist called them. she knows how to motivate me) were sore yesterday and today. it was a good feeling to have sore muscles again! sounds weird, i know, but i have missed that. i know i am sooooooo out of shape that it will take a while for me to get back to where i was before my knee injury. i am hoping , just like i did when i went to my first live zumba class, that when i do go back to class, they will not need to call 911. the physical therapist told me that  when i go back to class, to only do 50%, not give it my all. now, that is something  i am NOT  sure that i can do. i might not have been the best dancer in the class, but, by golly, i danced with gusto and gave it everything that i had.

well, i have to get motivated, somehow, and get my errands and chores done today. tomorrow is a "150" because it is the third of the month ( also legendary) and i am off the rest of the week. i have another physical therapy session on friday, so i guess i  will do some more zumba lunges along with my regular exercises. it is also an "assessment day". she will determine from my progress,or lack of, how much longer i need physical therapy and when i can go back to zumba class. i hope i can go back soon- before the silver coins on my belly scarves tarnish . also, i am afraid that my husband might be making cartoon character topiaries   out of our shrubbery. that would take some time..... just saying.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

" well, i'm a runnin' down the road, try'n to loosen my load-..... Don't let the sound of your own wheels make you crazy. lighten up while you still can, don't even try to understand, just find a place to make your stand, and take it easy. We may lose and we may win, though we may never be here again.... to take it easy." Take it easy, by the Eagles.

i think that the relationship between you and your doctor, in this case, endocrinologist, is like a good marriage. there must be compromise. i told you all last time, that my doctor decreased my levoxyl dose, from 150mcg down to 137mcg. i had a very hard time with that reduction! i worked two evenings last week, and by the second evening i knew that i was in trouble. i could not focus very well, mentally as well as focusing  my eyes. i actually had blurred vision.  this happened about 7:30pm. when i work the evening shift, i work from 12 to 9pm. so i had an hour and a half to try to keep things together, and a 30 minute drive home after that. i knew that something had to give!

i called my endo the next day, and left a message with her nurse. i did not hear anything until the next day. i had asked that if my dose could not be increased back up to the 150mcg every day, could i at least take the 150mcg two days a week? i guess she took a day to think about things. i could not blame her for that. the next day the nurse called me back and said that yes, i could take the 150mcg two days a week. YIPEE!! i chose mondays and fridays for two reasons. one being that it sort of breaks up the week as evenly as possible, and reason two being that mondays and fridays are our busiest days at work. i have to be able to focus at my job!

it is a little early to tell, but i think that maybe this will work out for me. i took my "first" 150mcg dose of levoxyl this past friday, and although i have had bronchitis for the past few days, i felt that i had more energy and i did not feel as "fuzzy". fuzzy is o.k. if you are a stuffed animal, but not if you are a person and are trying to do a job where you could actually make a mistake that, well, might hurt someone. it is so hard for anyone else to understand, a normal person, you know a person that has not lost their "butterfly", what a thyroid patient goes through. just a small change in your thyroid dosage and here we go again. all aboard the thyroid-less roller coaster ride. it really feels like i am on a roller coaster- i get waves of energy, then fatigue, then maybe a little energy before the long fatigue stretch. the problem is, i am not at an amusement park, the ride never ends, and somehow it keeps changing along the way. hair loss, no hair loss, concentration problems, etc. people who do not have a thyroid problem think that we all  just  take a tablet and everything is just fine. no problems, right? although i have empathy for those patients dealing with a heart condition, or diabetes, or high blood pressure, i will admit that i do not fully understand what they are going through. this helps me keep things in perspective when someone says something stupid to me. you know, like " you do not really need your thyroid, do you?". or, the worst one, the one that made steam come out both of my ears was from a physician. she told a patient that she should take this particular medication. the patient was hesitant, because she had read the side effects and one of them happened to be thyroid cancer. she told her doctor that she was not going to take this medication because of that. her doctor said, i swear this is true and these are her exact words, "WHY NOT, IT'S ONLY THYROID CANCER?!" 

this made me even more thankful for my endo, and the fact that she was willing to compromise with me on my levoxyl dose. it seems like an endless battle, and endless thyroid-less roller coaster ride, for those of us who have to deal with thyroid/parathyroid issues. all i can tell you is to just keep trying to figure out what is best for you. i hope that you are able to talk to your doctor, and work out something that is agreeable to both of you. oh, and also take it easy.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"dream,dream,dream, dream,dream,dream...when i feel blue in the night, and i need you to hold me tight, ....dream,dream,dream...only trouble is, gee wiz, i 'm dreaming my life away. i need you so that i could die, i love you so, and that is why, whenever i want you, all i have to do is dream,dream,dream,etc.. " All i have to do is dream, by the everly brothers

when i got to work the other day, i found a brand new prescription waiting for me- a levoxyl one, for 13mcg less than i used to take! i was on the 150mcg strength, and my doctor had called in one for the 137mcg one. of course, and i am sure many, many of you out there can relate to this, i had just gotten a 90 day supply of the 150mcg filled a couple of weeks ago! more than that,though, i had not gotten anything in the mail, or a call from my doctors office. i called my doctors nurse immediately and left a message. i will give her this, she called me right back. she said that my T-4 was indeed high, and my doctor needed to reduce my dosage. it would have been nice to know before hand,though. while i will admit that it was not a complete surprise to me, i still would have welcomed the opportunity to talk to someone about it first.

now, you would not think that just a 13mcg reduction in my dose would do much, right? well, if i had any thyroid at all, maybe i would not notice it that much. i am so glad that i started it this weekend since i am off and can rest a bit . i am afraid that next week will be pretty tough,though. you see, all i want to do is sleep!! my heart has stopped doing the mambo, not that i noticed it much, or really worried about it, but i guess that is a blood pressure is still a little high, so i will have to wait a bit to see how that ends up.

before my surgery, i used to take a small dose of cytomel( T-3) once daily. it was sort of like a cup of strong coffee in the afternoon. since my T-3 level this time  was about mid-range, i am going to contact my doctor tomorrow and ask her if i can get back on this. it was 5mcg once daily, if anyone wants to know. some doctors are hesitant to use this drug  for some reason. i think that some doctors are perhaps not familiar with the drug, maybe afraid of possible side effects, or whatever. since my doctor has prescribed this for me before, i am hopeful that she will do so again. otherwise, i may be dreaming at work( not good- not good at all!)

as far as my other lab values went, my glucose was good( 90- but i was not fasting)- i worry about this  since i love sweets! also, diabetes is another autoimmune disease that seems to like to hang out with hypothyroid patients. my sodium was a bit high( who knows?) but my calcium was low. my doctor wants to keep this just a little low so that my two remaining parathyroids will be stimulated to work harder. to review a bit, your parathyroids control blood calcium. a "normal" person has four parathyroid glands , but you can live with just one little guy( would not want to be in his shoes,though.). everyone knows that calcium is important for our bones,so i will not go into that. what i would like to mention are symptoms of low calcium: mild tingling in the hands, fingers and around the mouth to more severe symptoms like severe muscle cramps or even worse, seizures. so, you see i ( and those other patients who are missing part of their parathyroids) walk a fine line: you need to have a high enough calcium level so that you do not have hypoparathyroidism ( makes hypothyroidism look like a walk in the park), but not too much calcium that, for one thing, your parathyroids get lazy and think about moving to Paraguay.

to make things even more challenging , i have just discovered that i have lactose intolerance, so i have been trying to eliminate dairy products- at least during the week. i will need to supplement now with some calcium. remember that this interacts with your thyroid hormone, which should be taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, anyway. your calcium tablets and thyroid medication should be at least four hours apart so that the calcium will not inhibit your body's absorption of your thyroid hormone.  i have decided to pack some calcium tablets  along in my lunch box. i have chosen calcium citrate as my calcium of choice. it is absorbed very well and can be taken with or without food. it is also a  little easier on your digestive system. you also need vitamin d for good calcium absorption,too. i take prescription vitamin d, and have for some time. i think that there is some correlation between hypothyroid disease and low vitamin d levels. this has not been proven, to my knowledge, i just have seen way too many hypothyroid patients, especially those with cancer, who also have low vitamin d levels. vitamin d boosts our body's immunity, for one thing. i encourage thyroid patients to ask their doctors to test their vitamin d levels when they are getting other blood work done.

this blog has probably put some of you to sleep! i hope that i have not been too technical about lab values,etc. i just want to put useful information out there that might be helpful to others who are dealing with the same challenges that i am. please ask questions if you want, and if i do not know the answer, i will look it up or recommend some good reference books. that is, if i have not fallen  asleep myself!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"......we had time against us and miles between us.... I'll be waiting for you..i put my hands up, i'll do everything different, i'll be better to you. " i'll be waiting, by adele

i STILL have not gotten my lab results back yet! this is just so frustrating. i wonder if the doctors/nurses,etc, have any idea how anxious this makes us feel? i suppose that i will have to call them tomorrow and try to find out something. they were supposed to send me a copy of my results( i like to keep them for my records). a call would have been nice,too of course. anyway, no news on that front as yet. i do not expect a problem, but my endo may have to reduce my levoxyl dose if my T-4 level is too high. she wants to keep my TSH level at near zero for now. that is because she does not want any thyroid cancer cells that might be hanging out somewhere else in my body- chilling out, you know, waiting for a chance to cause more mayhem, to be stimulated. she also told me that she never wants my TSH level to get above 0.4 or so. ( for the same reason). i will admit that i am having a few hyperthyroid effects lately. i have never had those before! the good part is that i have a little more energy, less trouble losing weight, and i feel like dancing a lot( i would ,to ,if it were not for my bum knee). the down side to this is that  my heart is skipping a few beats- but it always manages to get back in time with the music. i would not have known this, but my endo  heard it last time when she was listening to my heart. my blood pressure is also up a bit- could also be from a too high T-4 level, or not. heck, it could be from work ( always a likely candidate) or the fact that both of my parents had hypertension. i do not want any other health issues, so i am checking my blood pressure occasionally with a self inflating cuff that i bought,  and hoping for the best.

another stressful, but exciting, event that is probably making my blood pressure go up is the re-modeling project that my husband and i are doing on an upstairs room and part of our kitchen. some of my friends have asked me why in the world would i do this again? last year my husband and i did a big re-model and we managed to stay married, so why tempt fate? well, we live in a 100 year old house and this room was the last room to get some attention. no insulation, except the horrible blown in kind- the kind that all sinks to the bottom of the walls and is the devil to clean up. the wiring needed to be replaced as well. we have carpenters and a contractor doing the work, so i can not complain there, oh, but the dust! and for some reason, the last guy out does not always shut the door. last time i had a very large bat flying around the house, and this time one of our dogs came inside and was sitting on our couch waiting for me. it would have not been so bad had she been a yorkie or a small dog, but she is a 70 pound old english sheepdog. it could have been worse, i guess. i have a 120 pound german shepherd, and if he was in on it, he had the smarts to clear out before i got out of the car. i was expecting my children for the weekend, and my daughter said, " you know, mom, it smells like dog in here!". a can of febreze later, it was o.k. though.

i hope that everyone had a great holiday and enjoyed some time off with family and friends. i will certainly write a post when i do, if i do, get my lab results back. just one note, if you post a comment on a really early blog entry of mine, i may not get it. i am not alerted by my computer when i get comments, and i do not go very far back to check. my son-in-law( the computer whiz)  may be able to help me with this, but bottom line, if you have a question for me, please post it on a current entry. or please feel free to email me at my personal email address: with any questions. i will help any way that i can!

Monday, April 9, 2012

" what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger... stand a little taller.... what does not kill you makes a fighter.... What does not kill you makes you stronger, stronger... Just me, myself and i. " Stronger ( what does not kill you makes you stronger) by Kelly Clarkson

i sure have heard those words a lot! i have also thought those words a lot. my last "testing week" brought it all home to me in a bad sort of way. i worked myself up ( so sure that something was wrong) and felt sorry for myself. all for nothing it seems. now, i do not feel sorry for myself for very long. i will not allow it. i still have not gotten my blood work test results back- i guess they are late because of the holidays. but my ultrasound was good, and that is a blessing. so this is behind me, i survived, and i hope that i am stronger because of it. my next ultrasound/blood work is scheduled for the end of september. i hope that i can handle it a little better-not get so upset about things. i should be back to regular  zumba classes  by then, so maybe that will help me de-stress a little.

speaking of zumba, no, i have not made my triumphant return as yet. i have about four weeks of physical therapy left, according to my physical therapist. i went today and she really put me through it! she strapped on a two pound weight to the ankle that is related to my bad knee and we all did some new exercises. plenty of ice packs and a little advil, and i am doing fine tonight. i have the chance to go again on wednesday, as this is my short week at work, so i get to do it again. kidding aside, this is really helping me- more than the cortisone shot, or anything else that i tried before this. i hope that no one who is reading my blog  has the need for physical therapy, but if you do, i highly recommend it. ( just make sure you stock up on ice packs)

i had a wonderful time seeing my children and of course, gabriel, my grandson, this weekend. gabriel is giving my husband and me some really good smiles and he is telling us stuff in baby-speak. mainly, coos and ahhs, but we get the general idea. i am still in the "wonder" phase of being a grandparent. you know, the " isn't he just the best thing ever" and " how did i get so lucky?" phase. of course, i absolutely conked out after they left. gabriel was not the only one ready for a nap!

to sum up the message in my blog: 1. have your tests done- be brave and just do it. 2. find your "zumba" and de-stress so that you will be happy. 3. enjoy your family and friends. enjoy your life. appreciate all of  the good things and remember to give good things back to others. 4. last, but not least, thank you to everyone that  reads my blog. whether you comment or not, you are important to me. i hope that by me  sharing my story , it  has helped you in some way. now THAT makes me happy!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

"chain,chain,chain,chain,chain,...chain of fools. you got me where you want me. i ain't nothing but your fool. ya treated me me mean, oh, you treated me cruel. doctor said, "Take it easy."... chain of fools. one of these mornings the chain is going to break.. chain of fools, chain of fools, .." Chain of fools, written by Don Covey, and i always listen to Aretha Franklin sing this one!

i had my ultrasound of my neck and lymph nodes, as well as extensive blood work done last week. it is  an out of town trip,about a nine hour round trip, so we spent the night with my daughter and son-in-law. ( that is always something that i look forward to  when i have to do these tests). of course, my blood work results will not be back for about a week or so, but i got the ultrasound results right away. here is the official wording: " No residual tissue or enlarged lymph nodes visualized in either the right or left neck". YIPEE!!  i asked the ultrasound technician to please go over the right area of my neck, near my ear, because when i had my initial visit with the surgeon, two years ago, he was sure i had a positive lymph node in the area under my ear. of course, he biopsied that lymph node and it came back negative. never hurts to check,though. and the ultrasound technician was very nice about doing so.

i hate to admit this, but i was extremely nervous about this test, this time. i have to have these tests done  every six months( the next one is already scheduled for september 27th). i have said that i am grateful that my doctor gives me such good care, but these tests cause a lot of  anxiety for me and my husband. i am not exactly sure why, but i was afraid that there was something wrong this time. when i had my I-131 treatment almost two years ago , the radiologist told me that i had one positive lymph node, and that my tumors were unencapsulated, and diffusely infiltrative into my lymphatic system. two of my parathyroids were malignant, as well. i would not worry as much( ok. i would worry some, because i am a worrier by nature) if everything had been in a neat little package and had not spread. that said though, my initial  full body scan showed that everything was confined to my neck area, and had not spread to my lungs or beyond. sometimes i feel that this cancer has been like a ball and chain around my neck. it is not what defines me, but it certainly is in the definition, if you know what i mean.

if you were to look me up in Websters dictionary, and if i were to be in there, here is what you would see:

bea young-smith, n. 1. devoted wife, mother, and grandmother. 2. spiritual;  loves her family and friends. 3. registered pharmacist. believes that the most important part of her job is to counsel patients and help educate them about their health care so that they can make good choices and be as healthy as possible. 4. thyroid/parathyroid cancer survivor.

i am grateful to be a survivor. and i try to be as positive as i can be in my life. i want to have a good, happy life and not drag this cancer around  with me like a ball and chain. it gets in my way! it makes me angry, and it has definitely changed my life. not all of the changes have been negative,though. through this blog i have met some incredible people. i really appreciate their presence in my life, and i have learned so much from them. and i have had the privilege to meet some other thyroid cancer survivors in my work and we have shared our stories and information. i guess like everybody's life, my life is a work in progress. i just have the added advantage of knowing that i must make the best of my life and be grateful and happy for everything good that comes my way. i am about ready to lose the ball and chain,though. anybody have a saw?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"mama said there'll be days like this, there'll be days like this mama said. (mama said, mama said). come on, mama said there'll be days like this, there'll be days like this my mama said. " Mama said, by dusty springfield

first of all, HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SPRING!! of course, if you live in the southeast, like me, we have had no winter basically, so the celebration is not quite as meaningful. i do like all four seasons, but for some reason, mother nature decided not to send us any snow this year :(    . now, i do not like driving on the ice, but i do like to see a couple of big snows each winter. oh, well, maybe next winter. and i am still very happy to see the flowers up and blooming and my cherry trees blooming, AH-CHOO! oh, goodness,  did i mention that the tree pollen is very bad this year? a small price to pay for spring's loveliness, i guess.

i am getting along very well in physical therapy. i had a bad day, or a setback as my grandma would call it, this past sunday. it was my long week( i work six out of seven days, when i work the weekend) and i guess being on my feet all that time, and the floor being concrete and without mats to stand on,it just did my knee in. sunday night i was up most of the night with my knee hurting. my physical therapist told me that i would have these bad days occasionally until my knee completely healed. this reminded me of my impatience with myself after my surgery and then again, after my I-131. i would seem to take one step forward, and two steps back. we all have our own timetable on healing, i think, and we must be patient with ourselves. i always try to do too much, think that i am able to do what i did before, and pretty much think that i am still 24 instead of, well, 50" something. "

i thought that this would be a good time to remind everyone out there who are  struggling to get well after surgery or the I-131, or those of you who are  struggling with low energy associated with being hypothyroid, to be patient with yourself. get more rest. remember not to be too hard on yourself. you will probably not be able to get EVERYTHING that you wanted to get done, done. but as my mom used to tell me, "don't worry honey, your housework will be there tomorrow." boy, was she right on that one! we all have our new normals now, which is not a bad thing. i am trying very hard to have more fun, more "me" time. i have just recently been made aware ( it was april 20th, 2010 when i got the news that i had thyroid cancer) that life is short, uncertain. you need to have fun as well as do meaningful things with your life. not that i always succeed in this noble venture, but i am trying. and if all else  fails, i  just try to  remember what my  mama said, "there'll be days like this," and this too shall pass.