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.