Thursday, November 27, 2014

just a little note of thanksgiving....

gratitude. thankfulness. mindfulness. strength. these are words that were not necessarily in my vocabulary before i had cancer. as the saying goes, " i am not thankful for cancer, but i am thankful for the changes in my life after cancer", to paraphrase.  i feel that i have been given a second chance of sorts, and i do not want to waste it. i do my best to appreciate all of  the little things, the good things in my life. now, i have to constantly remind myself of this. it is too easy to get caught up in work related drama or other such nonsense, and forget what is really important. i suppose this varies somewhat from person to person, but for me anyway, what matters most is to love and help people. i especially like to encourage people to be their own health advocate.

there was an article on the thyca website recently , and i have also mentioned this before in previous blogs, but everyone must be their own best patient advocate. it is important to be conscious of what is going on in your health care, especially if you have cancer or another chronic health condition . every patient should keep records of tests, doctor visits, etc. and be able to make decisions on the treatment and tests that are best for them. it takes a bit of work, sure, but what better investment can you make than to take an active part in your health care? you may have wonderful doctors, but if you are not aware of what is going on and are not involved in the treatment, then there is a serious piece of the puzzle that is missing.

no one knows better than you on  how you are feeling. if something feels wrong, then it probably is. get a second opinion, or third, or heck, even a fourth. ask questions- of everyone. being in health care, i like to answer people's questions about their health care. there are no stupid questions- o.k. maybe i have heard a FEW over the years, but it helps to gather all the information that you can and then make a decision that is right for you.

i am so thankful that i finally got myself together and sought out a doctor who would do the necessary tests and therefore could give me a correct diagnosis and treatment. this is such an important issue for me! my doctor said that i gave her quite the scare- it was a close call. i hope that i can encourage people to stand up for themselves and get the care and treatment that they need.

in his season of thanksgiving, i am thankful for my family and friends. i am grateful for having more time to be with them. i try to express gratitude for  all of  the good things that come  my way. i try to be mindful of what i am doing and how it affects others. and last, but not least, i am appreciative of the strength that i did not know that i had. i have been through quite a lot, but i am tougher than i ever could have imaged- before i got sick. people like to say that cancer does not define them. well, it may not define me, but it might be said that it changed the definition of "me".

happy thanksgiving to all of my family and friends. may this time be one of joy and peace for you and your family.  

Saturday, November 1, 2014

".....i look at the world and i notice it turning, while my guitar gently weeps. with every mistake, we must surely be learning, still my guitar gently weeps. .... i look at you all see the love that is sleeping, while my guitar gently weeps. " while my guitar gently weeps, by my favorite, and the best( in my opinion) beatle- george harrison

i have made my share of mistakes with my thyroid cancer.( the main one being, why did i wait 5 years to change doctors when i knew in my heart that i was sick and nothing was being done about it?) that is why i am so passionate and persistent when i know that someone else is struggling with questions about their own treatment. things like, " do i need surgery?" " do i need the RAI( basically, radioactive chemotherapy) afterwards?" " what kind of thyroid medication do i need going forward?" " how often do i need to be tested afterwards?". these are difficult questions, and certainly depend on the individual. there are  so many variables to consider.

 i think that most everyone would agree that when they find out that they have thyroid cancer they accept the fact that they need the surgery. but i know two people  who rushed into surgery and as a result have had major problems with scarring, and repeat surgeries. one thing that my surgeon was adamant about, thank goodness, was the fact that it was ALL coming out( along with two parathyroids and 11 lymph nodes, but hey, who is counting?). i asked him if he could just take out " the cancerous side" and he said absolutely not! and he was correct- the other side of my thyroid had a cancerous tumor also, so small that it was not seen on ultrasound so not biopsied until after  my surgery.that would have meant, as it did for the two people that i mentioned, that i would have had to be opened up twice, and go through everything again. no thanks- once was enough. bottom line, if you have thyroid cancer, please have it all removed and by someone who has done many thyroid cancer surgeries, i.e. they  know what the heck they are doing!

RAI seems to be a hot topic. no pun intended. one issue associated with the RAI is that some people opt out of having it. my endocrinologist said that " even the most brilliant surgeon can not get all of the thyroid cancer cells". ( when i told my surgeon this, his big old ego did not like it very much. oh,well). another factor in the decision making process is,  has the cancer spread? are the tumors encapsulated? in my case, it was yes to the first ( lymphatic system) and no to the second ( my tumors were unencapsulated and had caused such a spill that i doubt even  the most talented hazmat team could have mopped it up ) . that made the decision easier for me. in other words, i would have been  rather foolhardy not to have had  it. now, RAI is not without side effects. one well meaning person told me " oh you are so lucky to be able to have this! just one little pill, it kills all the thyroid cancer cells, and no side effects!" IF ONLY. yes, it does kill a lot of  the thyroid cancer cells .but some of them, the rogue ones ( the sarah palin ones, if you will), decide to take a vacation somewhere else in your body- their favorite locations being the lungs and bones. the side effects that i personally had from my RAI dose( i had a rather large one- 155 millicuries, 100 millicuries being the usual) were nausea after the dose, headache and general tiredness. after about a year, i started having salivary gland issues. i have had trouble with salivary stones- red, painful swelling in the jaw area. sour lemon candy, lemonade, heat and ibuprofen help, and i have not yet gotten rid of them. i just accept that it is something that i may have to deal with long term. if i had know all of this before, would i have still had the RAI? yes, definitely.

if you do not have a thyroid gland, you have to supplement with a thyroid replacement hormone pill. some well meaning people( they live in the same tribe, i think) have said " oh, wow, since you do not have a thyroid, you do not have to take any medicine now, right?" i used to try to give a short science  lesson to these well meaning people, but when their eyes glassed over, i just decided that i needed to say, well actually i am on a thyroid supplement for life. as for the debate over name brand, generic, naturally derived,etc., i am pretty sick of hearing about this. for me, levoxyl, a brand name, has
worked best. i have tried all of them( brand, naturally derived, generic,etc )  as well as the cytomel. the cytomel and levoxyl combo  worked well for me for a time. this was before i knew that i had cancer. i needed an afternoon dose of the cytomel to just get through the day. but now, i am on a bigger dose of the levoxyl, a suppression dose, so i do not need the cytomel. at my six months visit with my endo ( last month) my endo said that when i did not need to be suppressed any more, if that time ever  comes, she would prescribe some cytomel for me since she will be going down on my levoxyl dose. i think that everyone is different and one size does not fit all. i have said this before. if armour works best for you, great! if you love synthroid, great! it sort of reminds me of the great "mommy debate". the "stay at homers"versus the" moms who work". it is an individual decision and we should not judge others on what they decide works best for them.

the "how often do i need to be tested?" question depends on the individual, the severity of the disease, and the physician. i think that this question should ultimately  be answered by the patient, though. how comfortable are you with your care after the surgery, RAI, scans,etc. i try to be somewhere in the middle of" neurotic"and" could care less". for me, although the six months testing is nerve racking, it makes the most sense in my case. i feel that my doctor is giving me excellent care, and with a 35% recurrence rate associated with my cancer, i hope that if it does come back, it can be caught early and treated successfully.

i guess that one line of this wonderful song does apply to my blog today: " with every mistake, we must surely be learning". it is good to learn from your mistakes, make better decisions, and move on. no matter what the tribe of well meaning people may think.

Friday, October 24, 2014

" one, two, three, four....... i just want to celebrate another day of living; i just want to celebrate another day of life. ..... don't let it all get you down, no, no. don't let it turn you around, and around, and around. ..... the sun is shining down on me, and it's here to stay. " i just want to celebrate, by rare earth

some of you might have read about this on facebook, that my six months testing is over and i got a good report. ultrasound looks good, and no cancer markers in my blood. i have been hoping to move to yearly testing, but my endocrinologist said that because one type of the thyroid cancer that i had( i had two kinds- papillary and follicular variant) was very aggressive, i need to stay on the six month testing regiment. my doctor said for a while longer, but i am not sure for how long. my doctor is also keeping my TSH suppressed, at 0.006 uIU/ml.  wow, how do they even measure a number that small? the reason for this is that my TSH ( stands for thyroid stimulating hormone) needs to be basically zero, because since i have no thyroid, any thyroid cells that could be stimulated would be thyroid cancer cells. sounds great in theory, and i appreciate the fact that  my endocrinologist is taking such good care of me. but being suppressed brings some interesting side effects. my free t-4 is high, 1.95 ng/dL, and this puts me in the hyperthyroid category. so, while i do not have heart palpitations, as yet, i have a few other interesting things going on. i feel jittery a lot of the time, i am literally hyper at times, i get grumpy ( sorry, jeff), my vision is a little blurry sometimes, and i do not sleep as well as i once did. and of course the main concern is osteoporosis. with a t-4 this high, my risk for osteoporosis jumps quite a bit. at my  next visit, my doctor is going to do a bone density test( oh, goody). i had one a couple of years ago and found that i have a little osteopenia in one of my hips. this is nothing i am extremely worried about, but it is a precursor to full blown osteoporosis.

so, what do i do now? well, i can not take a calcium supplement anymore  because i had a kidney stone this year.( while i was supplementing with calcium tablets ). my calcium was low when my doctor did my tests this month. i am going to have to get dietary calcium somehow. i do take a large dose of prescription vitamin D as well as an estrogen supplement- both of which are beneficial to bone health. i also try to exercise as much as my work schedule allows. got to have that zumba- for more reasons than one it seems.  i bring this up just in case there is anyone else out there dealing with these issues. i will certainly keep everyone informed of my progress, but i will really not know how well, or poorly, things are going until my next round of six months tests- which will be in april.

i included the " one, two, three, four ," part of the song lyrics because next month i will be a 4 and a half year cancer survivor. i am grateful for every day that i have, and i try to celebrate and enjoy life as much as i can. really it is the simple things in life that make me happy. my family and  my friends being at the top of the list. i have never wanted a big fancy house, but i love where i live. it is out in the boonies where i can breathe fresh air and relax when i get home from work. my job is stressful, and i worry about adverse health effects from that, but i like to help people take care of themselves. i like to try to help my patients make good health care choices, and i want them to be educated about their medicines and what they need to do to be healthy. if i can do that, it makes me happy, so i guess that i will continue working for a while longer.  my parents were, and now my children are, in education. i used to think that i was the " which one thing is not like the others?" like they say on sesame street. but now, i look at myself as being in health education, so maybe i am not so far removed from my family's profession as i first thought.

i got to visit with my daughter, son in law, and of course one of my grandsons wednesday and thursday- when i went down to raleigh for my tests. today, jeff and i are visiting with our other grandson for the day, and i get to see my son and daughter in law. the weather is beautiful, it is not raining for a change, and i have a lot to be thankful for. it just does not get much better than this.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

"we're off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of oz. ...if ever there was a wizard of oz, the wizard of oz is one because, because, because,because.... oh, who knows?" sort of from the wizard of oz

well, it is almost that time again! my big six month check up is coming up in a couple of weeks. it can make my stomach hurt just thinking about it. despite the best intentions of my endocrinologist- and i really do appreciate her care and concern- i get very anxious this time of year. ( april being my other high anxiety month). with about a 35% recurrence rate on my cancer, this is pretty significant. to put this in perspective, my chances of having thyroid cancer were  only 5-10% so the doctors said, and look where that got me. at any rate, i want to be mid way on the scale where one extreme is neurotic and the other end is unconcerned. i might just lean a little towards neurotic at times, but i spent five  years listening to my former doctor tell me that i was just stressed out and had nothing to worry about. so i guess it is understandable to worry about that knot here, or lump there, a cough, or back pain ( even when i have been lifting my almost 3 year old grandson) occasionally.

instead of complaining today, i am going to pretend that i am Oprah, and tell you some things" i know for sure " about having had cancer. they are in no particular order, but all are important to me.

1).  in my early blogs, i mentioned " going to see the wizard" a lot, and likened my disease/ treatment to a walk down the yellow brick road- being  in a strange place, and searching for a way back home. well, those days are pretty much over, in that while i am home, i am in a different home. some call this the " new normal". i like to call it an attitude adjustment. i have recognized that i am headed in a new direction, with new rules, but it is not all bad. i have learned that you have to choose happiness, and take charge of your own good health. ( the wizard does not have anything for you in that bag of his- one last reference, sorry :)

2.) stop and take care of yourself. eat good food, rest when you are tired, sleep more, be with the people you love and do the things that you love. ok. that is a lot, but it all falls under the topic of taking good care of yourself. after i got sick, i was amazed at the way i had  pretty much ignored myself. i did not make good food choices, i did not exercise, i did not make time for happiness. i do not think that this was the reason i got sick, but it sure did not help me get well.

3.) realize just what is important to you. be grateful for all the little things that make you happy. receive them with an open and grateful heart. focus on the good around you- this is why i stopped watching television for a while. i just read good books, listened to good music , and enjoyed the company of my family and friends. give negative energy the boot!

4.) embrace your spiritual self. pray, meditate, whatever you want to do, but your spirit needs tender care,too. i think that by nurturing this, we can all experience a little peace.

5.) be your own best  patient advocate. i tell this to my patients a lot- read, educate yourself on your health, and make informed decisions. this is your body, so you need to be the one who flies the plane.

i would like to take a minute to mention a person that i have been following on facebook. i am not going to mention her name, in respect of her privacy, but i call her the " thyroid cancer warrior princess." this person is an amazing young woman who has been dealing with a very difficult case of thyroid cancer, not responsive to the RAI treatment. she has had thyroid cancer for several years and is now undergoing some very difficult treatment. she has a brave heart and a brave spirit, and is an inspiration to everyone dealing with cancer of any kind. she has been a great patient advocate for herself and her treatment- an example for us all. my prayers and good wishes go out to her, and i wish her much success in her treatment.

well, i have learned a lot on my journey so far. i hope that i can stay strong and positive, and that i am able to face whatever might come my way with dignity and grace. oh, and zumba- gotta have my zumba.

Monday, September 8, 2014

one size fits all?? no, i do not think so!!

i have been upset about the "endocrinologist" bashing that has been going on by one well known thyroid patient advocate, and i find that i must put my two cents in on this subject. i will say upfront, that i admire this patient advocate, and appreciate her efforts on behalf of all of the thyroid patients out there. we have not had a voice, and it continues to be a struggle getting people to understand what thyroid/thyroid cancer patients are dealing with. it has also been a struggle getting competent patient care. i am disappointed in her opinion( which counts for a lot- and influences many people) that ALL endocrinologists are incompetent, uncaring physicians who look only at lab values and are not concerned with doing what is best for their patients.

i am going to  relate my personal story about what i had to do to receive good patient care. i also would like to say that in my pharmacy practice, i talk to many people who have thyroid and thyroid cancer issues. some see endocrinologists, some see their primary care physicians,etc. but i would never suggest that they see ONLY an endocrinologist, if they feel that they are well and getting good patient care. this is a personal issue- and ONE SIZE DEFINITELY DOES NOT FIT ALL!! - in this situation. if a patient is unhappy with the care, or lack of, they are receiving for their thyroid issues, i will definitely suggest that they seek out a second, third, or even fourth opinion. i encourage everyone to be their OWN patient advocate. it is hard work, it is not easy- you  have to stand up for yourself, or make someone angry, but it is your life or the quality of your life that is at stake here. o.k., that said, on to my story....

about 5 years ago, i was seeing an endocrinologist in western north carolina. he was personally a nice man, but he did not take my concerns seriously. he told me that i was just " stressed" and that was the reason i was feeling so extremely tired, weak, forgetful,etc, all of the time. i tried another physician in this practice, and was basically told the same thing. so once every year, i would go back and be told, after blood work and an exam, that even though my blood work was " strange", it was because my life was so stressful ( stressful job, and i was taking care of my mother, who was dying of cancer). this went on, unfortunately, for about 5 years. i wish that i could tell you what event made me decide to get another opinion. it may have been the death of my mother, and the realization that life is short, and we should do our best to take care of ourselves . i love my family, and i want to be there for them. so whatever it was that finally moved me out of my stupor, or denial, i searched a website, ironically from the same patient advocate that i am upset with, and found a physician. i found another ENDOCRINOLOGIST. but this person was in a city four and a half hours away. this physician had many reviews that said things like, " this doctor listens to how i am feeling."  or " this doctor does NOT go by tsh or other blood values alone, but takes into account how i am doing when she prescribes my medication".

long story short, you can read my entire blog for the whole story, my new doctor ordered tests and did a biopsy. it was discovered that i had stage three, papillary cancer with follicular variant, which had spread to my lymphatic system and to two of my parathyroids. my surgery lasted almost 5 hours and was one of the most difficult ones my surgeon, who is head of the cancer department at the large hospital that i went to, had ever done.( his words- in his surgery notes) . there is no doubt in my mind that if i had continued to go to my old doctor, that i would not be here today! my endocrinologist is a caring physician, who prescribes my medication based on HOW I AM FEELING, but of course, also with my lab work in mind. i am a four year survivor as of this year. i still have to go back every six months for an ultrasound and blood work because my doctor said that my cancer was aggressive, and the risk of recurrence does not go away after five years or whatever, but could come back at any time. the testing is stressful, but i am happy that i go to a physician who truly cares about me and the care that i receive. does that mean that i will unquestionably accept everything that she says? not a chance! we " negotiate" my medication dosage on a regular basis. i respect her opinion, and she respects how i am feeling. we usually come up with a solution that is good for us both. even when you find the right doctor, you still have to be your own best patient advocate!

so my final point, and then i will get off of my soap box, is that endocrinologists can be an excellent   choice for thyroid patients. these doctors primarily  deal with thyroid and diabetes patients. that is what they specialize in. for me, it is a good choice, even though i had to go through a few to find the physician who was right for me. i think that if a patient is satisfied with a doctor, who is NOT  an endocrinologist, then, great! just be sure that as a patient, you are receiving good care and that your physician takes into account how you are feeling and not just the lab values. so, do i believe that one size fits all? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

it's just a pain in the neck, you know?

today, i went to my first physical therapy session for the pain in my neck and headaches that i have been having. i tried ibuprofen, a new pillow( always contour- better for your neck), and ice packs. then i was in so much pain that i tried the last resort- i went to my doctor, lol. i was pretty sure that what had caused this neck pain/headaches is  the fact that i am on the phone a LOT for my job, and we do not have headsets. we did not even have the neck rests that attach to the phone until a couple of weeks ago- i bought those myself. it helped a little, but i realized that i needed more help. so my doctor sent me on to physical therapy, which i like WAY better than pain medicine. but  that is another blog, so i will move on.

i first had to fill out a pretty extensive medical history. first  question: what activity makes your neck pain worse? my actual answer: going to work. next question: what activity makes your neck pain better? also my actual answer: getting off work. i also drew a smiley face here. despite this, my physical therapist took my situation seriously, thank goodness, and had some very interesting insights. first of all, he said that all the people who work at his office ( at the desk)  have headsets regardless of whether they have neck pain or not. so he said that he hoped that my employer would come through with a headset for me( it is still in the review process). in my medical  history, i mentioned my thyroid cancer surgery and the radioactive " chemo" that i received( a very big dose, by the way). the physical therapist said that he really thought that my neck issues had occurred from the surgery( who knows what is missing, besides my thyroid, 2 parathyroids, and 11 lymph nodes) AND the radioactive I-131. the I-131 damages the tissues and muscles, which i did not know until today, but i guess i should have guessed that it could do that. 

the therapist said that i have neck issues from the surgery and treatment that have gone unaddressed ( his exact words) since my surgery in 2010! the phone situation  at work just precipitated an already existing condition. so, what i want everyone to know who might read this blog, is to  take care of your neck! if you have on going neck pain and headaches, one or both, you should see your doctor! ask your doctor to write an order for you to receive  physical therapy. my therapist used traction on my neck today. i will not lie to you, it was not comfortable( it looked like an instrument of torture). but when i finished with the 15 minutes or so of traction on a low setting, i had a little better range of motion in my neck. he showed me some exercises to do at home, also. i think that i will see improvement ( i sure hope, that is) in about 4 to 5 weeks of physical therapy. after that, it is up to me to keep up with the exercises, and of course pray for a headset! 

sometimes i am surprised at what all thyroid cancer patients have to deal with! no, it is not the good cancer at all! there are unexpected health issues that are not always addressed, or even recognized, by our doctors or ourselves. we have to be our own patient advocate, as i have said before. you have to stand up for yourself, and for the good patient care that we all deserve. i sincerely  hope that  this helps someone, and i will certainly keep everyone informed about my " neck progress". oh, i did get great news today. i can go back to zumba class- i just have to avoid any " neck moves". the physical therapist said i should just maybe " wave my arms around" during those parts. ha,ha,ha- do you think that he has ever been to a zumba class???? :D

Saturday, August 30, 2014

"they say it's your birthday; we're going to have a good time, yes we are going to party, party, party......take a cha-cha-cha- chance, i would like you to dance; i'm glad it's your birthday, happy birthday to you." by the beatles, of course

yesterday was my birthday. i received a lot of happy birthday messages from my friends and facebook friends. i am very grateful for these well wishes, and  i am very happy to have another birthday to celebrate, considering what i have been through over the past 4 years. i did not always like my birthday ( getting older) as much as i do now. but of course, a lot of things have changed. my attitude and my whole outlook on life, for one. i am so thankful for all the little things in life- good food, good friends, family, a cool breeze that happens by on a hot afternoon. things that i took for granted before, but not now.

in october, i go for another six month blood work and ultrasound check. these checkups are very stressful for me, as i am sure they are for everyone, but i am happy that my endocrinologist is taking such good care of me. i had stage three papillary, with follicular variant thyroid cancer , as well as cancer in two of my parathyroids. this is why i am still going back for six month check ups even though it has been four years since my diagnosis. some people think that five years is the " magic number" and i asked my doctor about this. she said unfortunately, she had a patient who had a recurrence after 7 years. so i guess i will just forget about any particular time frame, and just be happy i am seeing a doctor who cares about me.

i have not been able to go to my zumba class in a month or so, and that is affecting my mood.( and not in a good way- ask my husband !) . i hurt my neck at work ( easy to do perhaps, as there is not as much support in my neck  as there used to be) using the telephones so much. i am going to physical therapy starting next week, and have asked the company i work for, at my doctor's suggestion, for a headset. i hope they come through with it. i find that zumba class, even just once or twice a week, improves my mood considerably. it is my " prozac", as i have said before. before i got sick, i did not take such good care of myself. i did not eat well, nor did i exercise. since being sick, i have tried several "strategies" you might call them, in hopes of improving my overall health. i have found that eating well, exercising, being grateful for all the good things that come my way, prayer, and time spent with family and friends have made me feel better. i do not know if these things have necessarily help me fight cancer, but i do believe that they are at least part of me being in remission these past four years.

i am hoping to add " getting more sleep" and "meditation" to my list of good things to do for myself . i think that these two things are very important, but i am still a work in progress, as the saying goes. it is hard to do everything at once, and really, overwhelming, but worth the effort in the end. i could also add " managing or cutting down on stress" to the list, but anyone with a full time job- especially one where you deal with the public, knows just how hard that is!

yesterday my husband and i celebrated my birthday quietly, but happily. today, my whole family- including my two precious grandsons, will be here for a rowdy and happy birthday celebration. i am thankful that they will all be here to remind me of all the good things in my life, and the most important,too. and i certainly intend to enjoy and relish every single minute with all of them!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

" all i wanna do is have a little fun before i die- says the man next to me out of nowhere. it's apropos of nothing. but all i wanna do, is have some fun. i got a feeling, i'm not the only one. " All i wanna do, by Sheryl Crow

this seemed like a pretty good title for this blog, especially because Sheryl Crow is a cancer survivor herself. she did not have cancer, though, when she wrote this song. perhaps it means more to her now than it did then? at any rate, i have been feeling like this increasingly, more and more. my husband and i were fortunate enough to take a "big" vacation this year. we ticked something off of his bucket list- to visit alaska. now, i am a very cold natured person, as anyone at work will tell you. it came as a surprise to most people that i would go there( they had me pegged as an Hawaiian person, i think). it was important to him that we visit alaska  while we were still young enough to do stuff. i knew that there would be beautiful scenery, of course, but i really had no idea that i would enjoy it as much as i did.

i prepared for the cold as well  as i could( you know those wacky, thyroid-less people). my husband and i bought heavy, down- filled coats for christmas presents last year. i also bought insulated underwear, insulated tee shirts, hats, gloves,etc. my husband called me "three shirts" while we were up there because every day i wore( in this order): my insulated silk underwear shirt, then a long sleeved tee shirt, and finally an insulated tee shirt( have i ever mentioned how much i love LL bean?) so, i managed to have a great time and still be reasonably warm. we flew into anchorage, and then rented a car and did our own thing. we had a few " booked events"- the all day glacier tour, which seems to be mandatory for all visitors to alaska. along with the all day salmon fishing float trip. it was raining most of the time, or at least cloudy, while we were there. we did manage to join the 30% club when we visited Denali. ( only 30% of all who visit get to see the top of mt McKinley).  we hiked almost every day- the most miles in a day that we did was about ten- thanks to zumba class, i was able to keep up!

we saw a lot of wildlife,too ( of course i see a lot where i work, but they are the two legged kind). thankfully, we did not see any grizzlies close up and personal- we saw them from a distance. we did however get pretty close to some moose(s)? one being right outside the kitchen window of one of the cabins we rented. the last place that we stayed was the most remote. it's claim to fame was that it was near the matanuska glacier which was off of the glennallen highway( on the way to fairbanks). now that was just about as remote as i want to get. it was interesting, though, and we actually got to walk on the glacier. i did not walk out too far because when i was passed up by some people wearing helmets, cleated shoes, and carrying walking sticks that looked like harpoons, i decided that i was almost in over my head so i turned back.

a very good friend of mine has been to alaska several times. i sent him some of my pictures while we were there( when he was at work ) . he said " bea, you are killing me!" the last time i talked to him, he was already planning his next trip there. i understand the attraction of going somewhere wild and free like alaska. i definitely would consider going there again- but before too long. i want to be able to hike and do other physical activities that my husband and i enjoy.

this brings me to the real " meat" of this blog. and that is that we all need to have more fun in our lives. my husband and i work really hard, as do most people. we love our family and put them first of course, but work pretty much calls the shots the rest of our time. i am getting near retirement age and having had a serious illness, i have reevaluated what is most important in my life. i love my job in that i get to help others take care of themselves and perhaps feel better. but, as is the case in every job, things change. there is more paperwork, duties that i do not want to pursue, and frankly i do not want to spend so many hours working! all i want to do, is have a little more  fun. and i do not have to go to alaska (necessarily). i want to take short trips, plant a garden, take hikes, get to zumba class more than once a week, etc. not to be morose, but who of us knows how much sand is in our hourglass? i think people are sort of programmed to put work first, and have fun later. that is just not working for me anymore.

i get to pick out our next big trip. it will either be out west- to see the giant redwoods, or to scotland ( the place where my first relatives called home). i am not sure where i want to go as yet. but, in the mean time, i just want to have more fun- wherever i am  and whatever i might be doing. i want to be able to say, " damn, i sure did have fun!"

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

my tribute to Esther Grace Earl- the real thyroid cancer hero ( in my opinion)

the movie, " the fault in our stars" is very popular now. the book, by john green, is a wonderful book i have heard. the ending is different than the book( i have also heard that). i debated on if i should read this book and/or see the movie. i am a 4 year thyroid cancer survivor, which those of you who read my blog know, but i am still going back to my endo every six months for re-checks. in other words, this seemed a little bit too close to home for me. esther grace earl's cancer was the same as mine: papillary with follicular variant, which is fairly common i believe. i was stage three; unfortunately for this lovely young woman, hers was stage four and she had metastatic disease- it had gone to her lungs.

after much debate, i decided to read esther's book, "this star won't go out" first. i know it is heart breaking, but it is true. this young woman had more courage than just about anyone i have ever heard of. she was an inspiration to us all, and intentionally or not, she  has gotten the word out  about thyroid cancer. how anyone could say now  that thyroid cancer " is the good cancer" after reading the books or seeing the movie is beyond me. one thing i did hear about the movie is that the character did not mention thyroid cancer directly, nor did she have a scar on her neck. nonetheless, there have been several articles- on facebook and magazines- that focus on the real person behind this movie/book.

esther ended her brave journey with thyroid cancer the same year as  i began mine- in 2010. i can not imagine being a parent and losing a child ( i still think 16 is a child). her parents have bravely continued to honor her memory with a foundation called, like the book, this star won't go out. esther was forthcoming with her disease and challenges with videos on youtube. it seems that her parents continue the practice of openness ,and by doing so, have helped many others.

one thing that i have learned, and continue to learn,is  that no matter how sick you are, there is always someone who has more serious issues to deal with than you do. when my hair was thinning and falling out in clumps, i just had to take a look at the brave, yet bald, women who came in my pharmacy. that put things in perspective for me.

esther might not have thought that she was a hero, but she is to me. and i am certain that she is to many others. she is the face of " thyroid cancer is not the good cancer". she has fought the good fight with grace, bravery and a sense of humor. having traveled down the thyroid  cancer road, i have learned to be thankful for every good that comes my way  on this journey. i am thankful for esther.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

".... say what you wanna say and let the words fall out, honestly i wanna see you be brave. i just wanna see you be brave. " brave, by sara bareilles

on monday, may 19th, i will officially be a four year thyroid/parathyroid cancer survivor! i have to work that day, so i wanted to write a blog today. i have learned, and continue to learn, a lot about being a survivor. i have always been grateful for my treatment, doctors, friends, and especially my family who have helped me along  my cancer journey. i have also been grateful for every day that  i get to be here on this earth- it is truly a gift and i really do try to do something good every day, even if it is a small thing( and it usually is). i think about the small things that people- sometimes strangers - did for me when i was so sick, and i realize that small things do matter, and sometimes make all the difference in the world.

i have decided that it is hard to be a survivor, hard to be brave. when you are first confronted with your disease and are deciding about treatment options,etc. that is all that you can think about. you can only think about getting from point a to point b. you are not  quite sure if " long range plans" are in your future at this point. you are just trying to deal with a diagnosis that you hoped would never come your way. but as things progress, and you realize that you just might be able to survive this thing, new challenges pop up. cancer forces everyone, i think, to decide if they are happy with their life. what do you want to do? what is important to you? you may have limited time( although we all are faced with that ) so do you really want to stay the course, or do you want to head off in some new direction that would be better for you as a person? i always felt that i knew what was important in my life and what made me happy. but having a serious illness really makes you take a hard look at your life and what you need to be doing.

i have always tried to take care of my family. i have been happy with the work that i do, and i enjoy helping others take care of themselves, but guess what? i was neglecting my own good health and well being. i realized, from that moment that i was too weak after my cancer surgery to pick up my dog's water bowl, that i needed to get regular physical exercise( zumba was born then! ) . i also realized that i needed to improve my diet and get more sleep/rest. now i am not saying that i do a stellar job with these revelations, but i sure am trying my best. and to be truthful, i feel better not only physically, but also mentally ,than i did before i found out that i had cancer.

do not get me wrong,though- i still have bad days. " low energy" days that so many of my thyroid cancer friends talk about having. i also know that i will have to endure every six months cancer testing for a good while , but i am doing a bit better dealing  with that. i tend not to be "looking back, over my shoulder" as much as i used to. i was afraid that cancer was somehow trying to catch up with me again. there is a pretty high recurrence rate with the type of thyroid cancer that i had- 35% i believe. so it is understandable that a person would be concerned with this. but, this can not keep me from enjoying my life and i do not want to obsess with this fact. if it comes back, i will get treatment again and hope for the best.

i am very fortunate to have my faith, the love of my family and friends, and good work to do. this is what i try to  focus on, as well as trying to take care of myself for a change. it is hard to be brave- to look forward and not to  think about the chances of  getting sick again. a positive attitude makes all the difference in your world i think. it has been proven that radical remission patients all have a very positive attitude, and that is part of their success. i am trying to hold on to this positivity in my life- in all things. i am just trying to be brave..........

Saturday, April 19, 2014

ta-da!! or this is the results blog

well, this is the bi- yearly results blog. and i got a pretty good check up this time. i was hoping, for some reason, i guess because i finally have gotten rid of my thyroglobulin antibodies, that i could go to once yearly testing. but my doctor said because i had a fairly aggressive section of the cancer in my neck area ( my tumors became  unencapsulated, and were diffuseley infiltrative; translation: the tumors burst open and spilled out into my lymphatic system) that she felt better with the six months check up schedule for now. o.k. i get it, and i appreciate her concern and care. better safe than sorry. if i need to have more of the RAI treatment or whatever, better to catch it early.

my numbers, the ones all thyroid patients live by, you might say, were as follows: t3, free: 3.5 ( range is 2.0-4.4); anti-thyroglobulin antibodies, less than 1.0 ( which is negative, yea!!); TSH- 0.005- my endo wants to keep this at zero so that just in case there are any thyroid cancer cells lurking around, they will not be stimulated. T4- 2.58 ( this is high; range is 0.82-1.77). i am not having any unpleasant effects from this.( this number makes me technically hyper ) .this is where my endo is so good, in my opinion. other practitioners might see the numbers and freak out. my doctor asked if i was having any heart palpitations, nervousness, difficulty sleeping,etc. and i am not. she listened to my heart and i am not having arrhythmias. i feel good on this dose, and she wants to keep my TSH suppressed, so she repeated the blood test on the T4 and is awaiting the results before she does anything with the dose. my doctor listens to how i am feeling and does not just  look at the numbers. i am taking 137mcg levoxyl now. i was taking 150mcg levoxyl two to three days per week ( alternating the dose), but i stopped this because i did not feel well on the 150mcg dose. i have lost 11 pounds since my last visit, but i think that this is because of the kidney stone ( nausea, pain) that i was dealing with, and is not related to my thyroid dose. i would love to say that it was diet and exercise. i have been trying to eat healthier, but i have not been able to go to zumba in a while because of my kidney stone, so i can not credit exercise. i am planning to return to zumba next week, hopefully, as the exercise helps my mood as much as my health, in my opinion.

my vitamin d level was 58.7 ( range is 30-100). she wants her thyroid patients, especially those who have had cancer to have a number near 60. i take 50,000 units prescription vitamin D twice weekly. in the summer when i can get outside, i might reduce it to once weekly. when i first started on vitamin d supplement, my level was near zero. there have been some studies that suggest a low vitamin d level may be present in cancer patients. i know that since i have been taking the vitamin d, my energy level is improved and i have less aches and pains. i am a vitamin d fan, you might say. it is not without side effects, and patients need to have their levels check frequently to make sure that they are in the correct range. a really high vitamin d level, probably over 100, could cause harm to the kidneys.

my cholesterol was 134. this is good, because hypothyroid patients tend to have high cholesterol. this may be somewhat related to my diet- i am a partial vegeterian- i have not had any red meat in 30 years, but i do eat some chicken, and fish on occasion. i am wondering since i will need to increase my dairy intake a little,( i need to supplement a little calcium for my bones, and since i have had a kidney stone i do not want to take calcium supplements at this time )  if my cholesterol will go up. i have a little room to play with, you might say, so hopefully things will all work out.

so that is about it. i already have my appointments for my lab work and ultrasound/ doctor visit for october. my doctor will let me know what she wants to do about my T4 . since we talked about it, she knows how i feel ( i want to stay on the 137mcg for now). i know that she will take how i feel into consideration before she makes a decision.

interesting side note here. she wanted to look at my pathology report from may of 2010( after my surgery). it was not in her computer for some reason. but i have records in a special  notebook of ALL of my tests since my diagnosis. i told her that i would mail her a copy. this is a good example of what i always try to tell everyone: keep copies of all of your tests. you never know when they might come in handy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"the w-a-i-t-i-n-g is the hardest part. " tom petty and the heartbreakers

don't i know it tom. the waiting is the hardest part. every six months i have to wait on my big cancer check up. i get blood work done the week before, and the ultrasound/ doctor visit the next week. i will admit that when it gets near the time for one of these visits, i am a little anxious ( my husband might say more than a little). this time though, i had something to keep my mind off the visit, and on something else. last friday, i had surgery for a kidney stone. it was outpatient surgery, but i had to have general anesthesia, and had the old intubation tube put in. i also had to have a stent put in because i had had the stone for a while, long story, and there had been some damage to one of my ureters. my doctor told me that he would try not to  put a stent in unless it was necessary- i had heard horror stories of stents- especially the removal, and i certainly  wanted to avoid that if possible.

when i woke up in the recovery room, i had three questions to ask the nurse. first, was there really a stone. "yes, the nurse said and here it is!" it was lying on my stomach in a plastic urine specimen cup sealed in a biohazard bag. no, i did not want it, but i had to take it to the doctor's office  so that  they can send it off to  determine what kind of stone that it is. such a little thing to cause such trouble! hard, with sharp, pointy edges,though.

second thing i asked, do i have a stent? she looked at my chart, and said," i am afraid so, dear." oh, well, i know my doctor only put one in if he had to. let me tell you here that stents are extremely uncomfortable and painful. it is difficult to get comfortable in any position, and mine had a long string attached. it was not as bad coming out as i had anticipated, really. the nurse took it out "quickly, and on the count of two, while i was blowing out  a deep breath." this happened yesterday, and i am still pretty sore. in my opinion, having one in was much worse than getting it removed. it was inserted while i was under the anesthesia, but it was removed without any pain medication. i told my husband i would just bring in my own rag to chew on when they removed it -like they did in the olden days.

luckily i did not ask the third question. which was, does EXXIT really have two x's? my bed in the recovery room was right in front of the exit sign. i think if i had asked that i would have been in the recovery room a bit longer.

so, i am researching kidney stones and thyroid patients. i have found that there is a correlation between this and hyperparathyroid patients. it has to do with the calcium levels in the blood, i believe. i have heard of other hypothyroid patients having kidney stones,though, so i am not sure if there is a link, or if it is just our bad luck in having them.

this thursday i go down to see my endo for the big check up. i am not expecting any bad news, by the way. i have felt pretty good, except for the infamous Shirley D. Stone, which is finally gone. i will of course let everyone know how the appointment went. on may 19th, i will be a four year papillary thyroid and parathyroid cancer survivor. i am so grateful for my family, friends and the care that i have received during my illness. it has changed my life- mostly for the better, and i am very appreciative of every new day and every new adventure. well, maybe not those involving kidney stones.....

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"..because i'm happy, clap along if you feel like a room without a roof, because i'm happy, clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth, because i'm happy, clap along if you know what happiness is to you, because i'm happy, clap along if you feel like that's what you want to do..." Happy, by pharrell williams

i have just read the most amazing book that i would like to share with everyone. it is " radical remission" by kelly a. turner. usually i give up on self help books part of the way through. they are usually dry and, well, boring. this book is well written and reads like a novel, but with thought provoking material.

there are nine chapters in the book- each chapter a " key" that radical remission patients( patients who have beat cancer despite all odds) have used. most patients have used all of these keys in dealing with the path back to good health. i really enjoyed reading the stories from radical remission patients. some of these patients have chosen a few paths that i might not have traveled myself, but all the stories are inspiring and interesting. the information that these patients share with us, along with the scientific information provided by ms. turner, would be beneficial to anyone who is dealing with cancer, or really any chronic health condition. after reading this book, i am going to make some changes myself.

when i began my cancer journey, it changed my life. well, you might say, that i changed my life. actually, i did some of the things mentioned in this book. i am not sure how a person who is given a cancer diagnosis can do anything other than change the way we are living and looking at our lives. i have tried to gleam positive life changes from my cancer, not to feel sorry for myself. i did not want to feel like a victim. i wanted to take control of my life from here on out, and be sure that i was in charge of my health care and well being.

some people say that they do not want cancer to define them. well, i have said that if you could look up the definition of my name in the dictionary, "cancer patient" would be part of the definition, but not the most important part for sure. i consider myself a mother, wife, friend, health care provider- pretty much in that order. i love my family, and most of the time i enjoy my work even though it is a stressful job. i enjoy helping people learn about health care, and what they need to do to take care of themselves. i would like to help people realize that they are in charge of their own good health, and they need to make decisions that are right for them. oh, i almost forgot- in my definition, there would also be zumba fanatic. haha.

one of the most interesting keys in the book, radical remission, is the "increasing positive emotions" or as it is also called, adding joy to your life. i am, by nature, a pretty optimistic and happy person. which is not to say that i do not  get depressed, angry, or sad sometimes. happiness is very, very important to healing and actually boosts our immune system. i am going to  try to incorporate at least 5 minutes of joy or happiness into my life  every day. and by that, i think it should be more than a little smile. it should be a good ole belly laugh, as the saying goes. one suggestion in the book is to " monitor your media". which is interesting because after i had my surgery, i did not want to watch the news or any sad, violent or otherwise disturbing tv programs. i instinctively knew that this was bad for me. i want to be well informed, of course, but watching the news is a real downer to happiness ,i think. i wish the news could somehow focus on the good news instead of how many people have been murdered or hurt in car wrecks.

so, i'm happy..... or at least trying my best to be. here's to our immune systems, and i hope that you will enjoy this book as much as i have.

Monday, March 3, 2014

"how does it feel? how does it feel? to be without a home, like a complete unknown, LIKE A ROLLING STONE, " like a rolling stone, by bob dylan

i have had a very bad bout with salivary gland stones. well, one stone in particular. it was large- felt like a boulder, but probably was about the size of a small pea. it was round, hard and rolling around inside the salivary gland under my tongue. it caused my lymph nodes to swell- especially on one side. my husband and i were eating dinner a few weeks ago, and he said, " OMG, you have a lump the size of a goose egg on your neck!". really, a goose egg? i have never seen a goose egg, but since they are usually, i think, larger than a chicken, i was somewhat worried.

it literally came up in an instant. i got out the old stand-bys- heating pad, large glasses of sour lemonade, and ibuprofen for the pain. for those of you who may not know, i have been having salivary gland issues since my whopper dose of RAI. it took about a year to develop, but they have stayed with me since then. the first episode that i had sent me running to the dentist. " tell me it is a bad tooth!" i cried. although, i somehow knew that it was not. my dentist said no, he was pretty sure that it was salivary stones and sent me off to an ENT who confirmed the diagnosis. the ENT said that the RAI had flooded my salivary glands( somewhat common) and left scar tissue behind. this makes me, or i should say, them, susceptible to stone formation.

i have said that i think that there is somehow a link between the" darn it kidney stone" ( shirley D. stone) that i had and these salivary stones. maybe the same types of chemical compounds found  in foods that some think may cause kidney stones, can cause salivary stones as well. it just seems like too much of a coincidence to have both at the same time. i had been eating a lot of kale- baked kale chips are the bomb, when this happened. i am not sure if it is at all related, but i am sadly removing kale from my diet. i have noticed, unscientifically of course, that alkaline foods- such as chocolate, seem to make my mouth feel worse when i am having a bout with salivary stones. the food that seemed to feel the best, and do the most good was pineapple. now this is very subjective, i am just reporting how it went with me. something to consider,though. and for the record, i am NOT removing chocolate from my diet. i am just trying to cut down on it a bit, and definitely not have it when my salivary stones are flaring up.

ok, here comes the interesting, but gross part. you can stop reading now, if you want to. but, i passed the salivary stone at work! i kept rolling the stone around with my tongue from time to time, and my mouth was getting so sore that i could not eat. my mouth also burned, and, as i mentioned , i had that goose egg lump on my neck. so one day, last week, i touched the stone with my tongue and i felt a hard tip that i had never felt before. i went to the restroom, lifted up my tongue, and was able to see the tip of the stone poking it's mean head out from my poor, sore salivary gland. i pressed on it, and it came out in my hand. gross, right!!??. immediately, i felt better. the lump on my neck  went down some, although it is still swollen a bit. my mouth felt better and i was able to eat lunch.

i really thought that i was going to have to go to an ENT and have it surgically removed. i have researched this topic a little, and  that is sometimes  the case with larger stones . i have since read that rinsing with salt water may help with the pain - you have to be careful here,though, and mix it up correctly. one teaspoonful of salt per 8 oz warm water is about the right proportions. i found out, the hard way, that extremely salty foods will  set my whole mouth on fire when i have a salivary stone.

i am going to have to keep an eye on this, i know. i am going to read and research all that i can on the prevention and treatment of salivary stones. of course, i worry about salivary stone cancer, which is increased with exposure to radiation( uh, great, right?). i have not found an ENT doctor that i really like yet, but i will. and to answer bob's question, the rolling stone felt really, really bad!!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

" guess who just got back today? those wild eyed boys that had been away. haven't changed, haven't much to say,....the boys are back in town, the boys are back in town, boys are back, boys are back...." i listened to the one by bon jovi

since i have had thyroglobulin antibodies for the past three years, i have- up until now, felt like a cancer patient. as you may know, if you follow my blog, in november, i finally, finally got a negative report on my thyroglobulin antibodies. i remember the nurse bringing me  the report while i was waiting on the doctor to come into the room. she had the biggest smile on her face when she handed me the report( i always get a copy of my blood reports, ultrasounds,etc for my records). the nurse did not say anything, but the look on her face made me curious. i remember i stared at the paper, for what seemed like a long time not believing it. where were those rascally rabbits- the TGAs?? i remember humming the lyrics to the "boys are back in town" whenever i looked at that six month blood work report. i should have said that  the boys are still in town. but for whatever reason, the boys have left town and that makes me a cancer SURVIVOR now. at least that is how i finally feel. with the TGAs hanging over my head, making me wonder if there was cancer somewhere else in my body, i just could not feel like a survivor.

now the challenge comes in transitioning from being a cancer patient to a cancer survivor. not as easy as you might think. i had a squamous cell carcinoma removed from my leg about a year ago. it was pretty large, and the dermatologist had to go deep to get it, but that was all the treatment that i needed. if this was all that i had to deal with, that and the six month  visits i get to make to  the dermatologist, i would be in gravy as they say. but i am reminded, by my body of all things, that i am missing my thyroid gland and things will be different from here on out. not that i miss the monster, but when my thyroid was healthy, i was living a " normal" life. i have a new normal now ( are we all sick of that phrase?). this just serves to remind me of the fact that yes, i had cancer, and hopefully i will be able to enjoy my life and not worry about the cancer returning.

i go back in april for my next visit- blood work and ultrasound. i am hoping that the boys are really out of town and i get as good a report in april as i got in november. i suppose it might take another  good report or two for me to really breathe easier. but i am on my way to healing my mind as well as my body. it does something to you i think- hard to explain to anyone who has not had cancer of any sort- once you get that diagnosis. i suppose people deal with a cancer diagnosis in different ways. i tried to see the positive changes and move forward. still, i will admit that the cancer was always in the back of my mind. it still is to some degree, but i like to think that it does not dominate my life and i can be happy. exercise- yes, zumba, has really helped improve my mood as well as my physical strength. i hope that anyone with cancer can find a good activity that they love and be able to stick with it. i believe that for me, it also gave me back some faith in my body that i had always taken for granted. namely, that my body would function correctly and not make me sick.

oh, for those of you that are interested, my husband is coming along well with his recovery from hip surgery. he tries to do too much, but other than that, he is a good patient. also, according to my last xray, i have managed to get shirley stone to oregon!! hooray!! hopefully no more kidney stones for a while. perhaps it will be smooth sailing for a bit.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

i am getting to pay it forward

my husband took such good care of me three years ago, when i had my surgery/RAI for my thyroid cancer. even after i went back to work, he just pitched in there with the cooking or some other household chores. well, on monday i am paying it forward, as they say. my husband had to have a total hip replacement. he is doing well, and i am impressed by his determination to get better. he doing his physical therapy exercises, taking his medication( they have him on a blood thinner, for one thing), and wearing those inflatable leg "pumpers" for lack of the correct terminology. it seems strange for me to be the caretaker now. not that i am not so happy to do this for him, but our roles have been reversed!

one thing that i have noticed is that is not easy being a cancer survivor. there is of course, the new normal that everyone experiences. there is the constant testing and worry about the cancer coming back,too. that was  an attitude changer( for me, anyway). it  made me appreciate my life, and all my loved ones even more than i did before i got sick. who knows how long any of us have on earth, and i for one plan to make the best of things!

the problem  that i am trying to figure out, is how to be "normal" and deal with the reality of my situation. no one could possibly understand this, except for another cancer survivor. that is why i try my best to keep this blog going. i try to have good information about pertinent subjects, but also i benefit from the contact that i have with other thyroid cancer survivors. i do not live in a large enough town for a support group. honestly, even if i did, my work schedule would probably make it impossible for me to go with any kind of regularity. lets face it, i have a difficult time going to zumba! and everyone knows how much i love zumba.

so in my case, and for now, the patient has become the caregiver. i try to remember all of the things that meant so much to me, and made my life easier. not that my husband has cancer. his hip will improve, i am sure, and he will be out walking, out hiking, etc, me in no time. but for now, i get to see it from a different perspective. a good thing, i think.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

there are no lyrics for this, that i know of, so those of you who remember playing the old computer game, The oregon trail, just hum the theme song- i'll explain later...

well, i went back to the urologist today for a follow up visit. i had been feeling a little better, so i thought that i would get a good check up. the doctor wanted to do another x ray. i did not think that i needed it, and i thought, it will probably be a waste of time, but what could it hurt? to be honest, i did not want to get any more radiation,though. with the huge dose of RAI that i got after my surgery, along with my latest CT scan( one CT scan is equal to 400 chest x rays!) i feel like i am positively glowing! and not in the good, ready for my close up, way.

anyway, to my amazement and horror, the doctor showed me my x ray, and there was Shirley D. Stone!
this is where the oregon trail game comes in. do you remember playing this on your old computer? my kids loved it, and played it so much that i still remember the theme song. we hardly ever got to oregon,though. i either shot myself in the foot ( or worse), there was a storm with  lightning ( a couple of chickens always died after this event) , or my wagon did not make it across the great river( a fitting analogy if i have ever heard one).  so Shirley D. Stone is trying to make it to oregon, and has been on the " trail" since thanksgiving. i feel just like my body is the map of the united states, and i have been tracking Shirley's every move.

i have drunk tons of sour lemonade, and i have been to zumba. i have been a very energetic dancer in zumba class. so much so that i strained a ligament in the back of my knee- which was really painful, and  has sidelined me for a while. tomorrow, i am going back to zumba and dance my heart( and hopefully shirley) out. i am going to take some ibuprofen before i go, and warm up on the recumbent bike so that with any luck, i will  not injure my knee again.  i still think that there is some connection between my salivary stones and this kidney stone. i have not ( yet ) found any evidence to prove it, it is just a feeling that i have. i had  gone a few months without my salivary stones flaring up, and then, boom, my jaw and face swelled up! was it a coincidence that i developed a kidney stone at the same time? as i said, i have no proof, but i will continue to investigate this issue.

so i have about a month to get shirley to oregon. if that does not happen,  i will have to go to the hospital for the "retrieval procedure" as well as having a stent inserted . honestly, i am dreading the stent- wearing it for about two weeks and then having it removed( without anesthesia) more so  than i am dreading  the hospital procedure. who knew that this trip would take so long?