“If It Were Me, I Would…”

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:1-2, 19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Day five post I 131 and still in seclusion. I read those verses today and they resonated so deeply in me. Many would call this time in my life a desert and believe me considering the temps outside it’s pretty close. However, I have been surrounded by people who are determined to point out the rivers and lead me from the sand. The Lord has put some amazing people in my life that have really allowed me to have some joyous moments in this time which has been a blessing beyond words and for that I am so grateful. 

I’ve had care packages and silly text messages. My husband went waaaaaaay out of the way to go to my favorite coffee shop and procure some of my favorite vanilla powder to enjoy with my coffee. That was in addition to many other things he has done, include being the sole person to care for our very rambunctious 19 month old. All of these things have made what could be a very bad experience much, much more tolerable. 

But, it’s still difficult to be secluded from everything. And like the previous posts I do not want this to come off as me complaining. I am writing this so if you are about to go through this, you get a peek through the eyes of somebody who lived it. 

During our consult appointment my Nuc Med Doc kept saying, “if it were me, I would.” I am now convinced that it hasn’t been him. I still appreciate the advice he gave, but hypothetically telling somebody what you “would do” is much different than actually living it. 

“If it were me I would change the sheets every day.”

I did follow his advice on this one, but let me tell you, it was not an easy undertaking for me. I would wake up exhausted and have to summon the energy to get up and strip the bed then get my laundry from the day before ready so I could throw it in the laundry with the sheets and thus only have to worry about one load a day. Which my hubby did help with. 

Once I got my clean clothes ready and set out, I would jump in the shower put on my fresh clothes and then put the clean linens on. This was in a effort to minimize anything transferring from my dirty clothes. When that task was complete I would usually climb in bed and take a bit of a nap as I was typically tired at this point. 

“If it were me, I would sweat a lot.”

At the time of my consult I was still on some sort of thyroid meds, so I was still able to work out and figured, ok that seems simple enough. Yeah, not so much. Day one post I 131 I did take a walk it was slow, but much needed. Luckily nobody was out or about in the neighborhood so there weren’t a lot of witnesses to the lady walking around with gardening gloves on and a plastic bag wrapped around her phone. 

I did get a few walks in but I never had the energy to actually get a good sweat in, so that suggestion I wasn’t able to follow. 

I should also add a disclaimer that everybody is different, so I can’t say that you won’t be able to workout, I just know that I wasn’t able to. 

Throughout this experience, I can say that the Lord has pointed out a few things to me. One of the most important is to be present. I would catch myself muting whatever I was watching or listening to so I could listen to my husband and son interact. Just hearing their conversations and their voices was so comforting. The joy in their voices and the fun they were having made me smile, and cry, if I’m 100 percent honest. Our bedroom window looks into the backyard so I was able to peek out the window and watch our little one play outside. At one point I witnessed him figure out how to put a toy in the proper place on his own for the first time. I was so proud of him and I might have missed it if i was down there distracted by my phone or the television. It was something I was convicted of before, but it really took hold because that was ALL I had and I didn’t want to miss a single second of the short time I could observe him playing. So I plan to be more present in all the moments, because they truley are fleeting. 

Another thing the Lord pointed out was that although I was alone physically I was not actually alone. I had the love of those who supported me and their thoughts. It reminded me that although we can’t physically see God, He is here, His love for us, and His Spirit are surrounding us. He always is, even if we are the only ones in the room. And what an amazing thing that is, to have that comfort when you are sitting in your room alone waiting to get out and interact with your loved ones again. It doesn’t always make it easy, but it has made it easier, at least. 

And with that, I leave you, waiting out the last few hours of my exile. 

Radioactive Silence

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭41:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It has been about 30 hours since I took the I 131 pills. Thirty hours of no physical human contact. As much as this is a drag, I feel blessed to live in a time when technology has made it possible to have so many “distractions” we can use to pass the time and have conversations with the outside world. So mentally, outside of missing my son and husband, I am doing good. 

Physically, I’m not in any pain, I’m just exhausted due to being in a super Hypo state. I read how much of a drag the Low Idoine Diet (LID) was and I think a lot of that has to do with being off the thyroid medication. I have never been so, just, physically exhausted in my life. So much so that I had to stop exercising due to that and some dizzy spells I was experiencing. I write this not to complain about it, but to prepare anybody going through this that might read this has an idea of what to expect. 

I thank the Lord that I have an amazing partner in my husband who has been so supportive and understanding throughout this entire journey. He has never hesitated in picking up the slack that this whole cancer thing has caused. Especially during those times, like now when I can’t physically help take care of our tornado of a 19 month old. So thank you, babe! 

And right now, aside from hugging my hubby and son again, before that can even happen, I am most looking forward to 1:30p tomorrow when I can eat regular food, sans seafood, again! I’ve been dreaming of a bean and cheese burrito and my favorite Starbucks drink. I guess a California roll will have to wait a few more days. 

The next step is a body scan. I go in for that next Friday, so that will probably be my next post topic. And this is where I will leave you. Netflix and sour patch kids (for the dry mouth) are calling my name. 

The Surgery! Part Duex 

This is what the Lord says: I have heard your prayers and seen your tears. I will heal you.  2 Kings 20:5
     So almost two weeks ago, on April 6th, 2017 I had my second thyroid surgery. They removed five lymph nodes on the left side of my neck and the right side of my thyroid, which was left over from my February 9th surgery. 

     I checked in at 5:30am and was in the operating room around 7:20am. The procedure went off without a hitch with my vocal codes intact. Yay! 

     After the surgery I was wheeled to my room which I shared with another patient. Two, actually. The first woman was smart and requested a transfer to a single room. But I was on pretty good meds so I didn’t mind too much. 

     The stay was pretty uneventful. I was able to get up and walk around late that afternoon and outside of a little nausea, I was able to eat all the soft things. My husband stayed with me in the room and luckily they were able to find a chair/bed for him. My family also came to visit and brought me flowers and treats. I’m so thankful that they live so close to the hospital. 

     The nurses were amazing and made sure I was completely comfortable. I guess as comfortable as one can be after getting their neck sliced open. My calcium level was checked a few times. That was the reason I had to stay overnight, to keep an eye on my calcium level. That tiny butterfly shaped thing in our throats sure does control a lot of things. Like your calcium levels and body temperature. 

     Let’s talk about body temperature post-thyroidectomy. Ooooh wee, T’Shane! So for the first week or so my temperature would fluctuate so quickly I didn’t know what hit me. In the hospital I had to request a fan because I would get SO hot. Like, I want nothing touching me and get some air in me NOW, hot. It was similar to when I would get hot flashes while pregnant, but these were much more intense. I am 12 days post op and although the temperature changes are far less, I still run hotter than before. I now have to sleep with the fan on me through the night. Before, I was a cover lover, those days are long gone. 

     And then there is the whole appetite thing. I have yet to see my Endocrinologist, so I am not sure if my meds are where they should be, yet. I take 25 MCG per day of Liothyronine. So far my appetite is almost nonexistent and nothing really sounds that great anymore. When I do get hungry it comes on quickly and I only want Bean and cheese burritos and pasteries/ desserts. So that has proved to be both a blessing and a bit of a struggle. We will see how that develops while they figure out my medicine. 

     As far as the actual induction site, which starts from above my right clavicle, curves up at the left clavicle and ends behind my left ear lobe. It has been more uncomfortable and sensitive this time compared to my first surgery. I haven’t taken my Norco in about a week and have been able to limit my ibuprofen lift to an 800mg pill at night before bed. It’s still sensitive to the touch, but getting much better. I make sure to wear a scarf when I am out and about to protect it from the sun. 

     One of the other things that has changed is my energy level. Again, I am still trying to figure out what is due to recovery and what is due to my new label of hypothyroidism. The first 10 days or so I had to take a nap midday to make it through the day. Now, I still get tired much earlier than normal, but I don’t need as many naps. Unless I am out and about for the day. In also hoping that will change once I can get into my workout routine again. 

     It’s late and I have written a novel, so I will post again soon. 

Take care! 

84 Days

Yesterday afternoon we got a call from my surgeon’s office to meet him today, Friday, 2/17/2017. 

The hubby and I both had a feeling that we already knew the outcome. The doctors have been hinting at it for the last three months, 84 days to be exact. 

So we went to the appointment and waited in the exam room for what seemed like forever. As I waited, I read Psalm 59: 16-17 to myself over and over again. 

“But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭59:16-17 ESV

That helped to calm my nerves a bit. 

My hunch grew stronger when the surgeon came in with another doctor in a white coat. He got straight to the point and said that it was in fact cancer. Papulillary Thyroid Carcinoma, to be exact. Which has a 90% survival rate. We both took the news pretty well, considering we have had the chance to process this possibility for almost three months. 

Now the unexpected news. Apparently, according to the surgeon, I am “special”. My vocal cords sprout earlier than most people, which makes the surgery a bit more difficult. He checked the progress of my vocal cord recovery and they aren’t healing as quickly as he would like so we are going to push the next surgery back a few weeks. Since my PTC is pretty slow growing he is comfortable waiting a little bit to lessen the risk of bilateral vocal cord paralysis. So we decided that was the safest option at this point. 

In about six weeks I should have my next surgery. They will remove the rest of my thyroid and remove the lymph nodes on the left side of my neck. And about four to six weeks after that I will do Iodine Radiation. 

I know there is a long road ahead of me, but I am just glad to know that we finally have answers and a plan. 

Piece Of Me

On Thursday, 2/9/2017 I went in for surgery. The plan was to remove half of my thyroid and some of my lymph nodes removed and while I was under anesthesia they would check and make the final decision on my cancer diagnosis. If they found the cancer they’d do a full neck dissection. So I woke up in the recovery room in a lot of pain and immediately asked if I had cancer. Nobody could tell me the answer, so I asked if I was staying the night at the hospital, because of it wasn’t cancer I’d be going home. The nurse said I was being discharged so I took that as a sign that I didn’t have cancer. 

I was wrong. The surgeon came into the recovery room and explained that they couldn’t get anything from a frozen biopsy and they still couldn’t tell me if I had cancer. I’d have to wait longer. At this point the first thought that popped into my head was, “so they just want more copay from me.” I was still in pain and pretty livid after I found out that they still couldn give me answers. 

So the waiting game continues. In the meantime I do know that I get my stitches out on Thursday, 2/16/2017. So I got that going for me. 

The Consult…

    On Monday afternoon, 1/30/2017, I met with the Thyroid Cancer Surgeon for a consultation. After a 30 minute wait in the exam room we finally met him. He is a younger guy with a straight forward personality. 

     So long story short, I will be having some sort of surgery on 2/9/2017. I will also have one last biopsy done about a week before then, on 2/3/2017 The invasivness of the surgery will depend on the biopsy results. If the biopsy is malignent then I will have my entire thyroid and some lymph nodes on the left side of my neck removed. If it comes back benign, I will have a lumpectomy and only part of my thyroid will be removed. The recover time for the latter is much shorter, three days, compared to the two week recovery time of the former.

     I am not looking forward to another biopsy, but I am ready to get some answers. 

The Lump

So here we are.
I am a 35 year old happily married mom living in Southern California.

In early November 2016 I found a lump in my neck and made a doctors appointment for said lump. This is my attempt to blog about my journey through life without a thyroid and a possible cancer diagnosis.

When I first felt the lump I dismissed it, but after about a week, I felt it again. That time my son’s face flashed through my mind. I couldn’t imagine what might happen if I didn’t go get it checked out. So I made an appointment for the same day as his one year old check up, 11/25/2016. The doc I saw thought it was a cyst, but she order a CT Scan and referred me to a Head/Neck/Throat doc in case it needed to be removed. She checked my thyroid and said it felt normal.

About two weeks later I went in for my CT Scan. I have never had one done before and was a bit nervous. The procedure was a lot more relaxing than I thought it would be. Before the scan they put an IV in my arm and injected me with a contrast. You know the feeling you get when you take a shot of tequila and the warmth runs down your throat? Yeah, it felt like that but throughout my entire body. Two days later, on 12/9/2016, I had a consult with a Head/ Neck/ Throat doc. He said that the biopsy revealed nodules on my lymph-nodes thyroid. He did a biopsy on my neck which was not pleasant. Afterward I felt like I got punched in the neck. He also scheduled me for an ultrasound and referred me to an Endocrinologist to biopsy the nodules on my thyroid.

On 12/15/2016 I got the call from the Head/Neck/Throat Doc who explained that they found thyroid tissue in my lymph-nodes and that is a “high indicator of thyroid cancer.” It took everything I had to make it through the phone call without crying. I wasn’t yet diagnosed with cancer, but the possibility of it caught me off guard. As soon as I hung up, I cried while my husband held me. We were expecting guests at our house for a birthday celebration. I was grateful for the distraction and tone surround by good friends. We didn’t want to bring the mood down so we decided not to bring up the results unless somebody directly asked us. Those particular friends had known about the situation since the beginning so we didn’t want to lie to them if they asked us. One of them did and the cried with me and continued praying for me. What a blessing it has been to have an amazing support system through this journey.

I met my Endocrinologist on 12/21/2016 when he biopsied the nodule on the left side of my biopsy. Since that was the side the neck lump was on they decided to start there. Luckily, this biopsy was MUCH less painful than the neck biopsy. I was happy to have the holidays serve as a distraction as week waited about s week to get the results. On 12/27/2016 I found out that the biopsy results came back normal, but he wanted to re-sample that side and biopsy right side. At this point, although it was good news, I was cautiously optimistic about the results, not wanting to get my hopes up in case the next biopsy came back as bad news.

On 1/9/2017 I saw the Endocrinologist again, for my third biopsy. This time, on 1/13/2017 the Endocrinologist said the tissue from the nodule on the left side came back as atypical. Which means it isn’t necessarily cancer, but it’s not normal, either. He suggest I get my thyroid removed and referred me back to the Head/neck/throat doc who called me about a week later who still thinks it could be cancer, and also suggested I get it removed. He referred me to the thyroid surgery specialist.

And that brings me to today. I have a consultation with the Thyroid Surgeon on Monday, Jan 31st. I am nervous but also ready to get this thing out.