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.