New Year, New Blogging Mojo

2015 started today and I was sick in bed with this migraine/vertigo thing I’ve had a couple times this month. It sucked. Sleep seems to be the only thing that makes it better, so I am fortunate that I was able to do that today. I think it is triggered by exhaustion and stress in high doses.

While I was in bed I was able to ponder the New Year and what I want to be different and better in 2015. As usual, a million things came to mind and so did the desire to Change. Them. All. Right. Now. Past Me knows this is a recipe for disaster because it leads to too many unrealistic resolutions that I try to achieve at the same time. I invariably fail and end up more miserable than I started because now I get to add an extra helping of self-loathing for not doing things for myself that are good for me. I mean really, this is New Year’s Resolution 101. I know better.

I want this year to be different. I want to be successful. I want to be proud of me!

I came across a hashtag #onelittleword and was intrigued by the idea and simplicity. But of course, I quickly became overwhelmed trying to come up with the PERFECT word for me. Some of the ones I considered were:
☆Love
☆Achieve
☆Be
☆Better
☆Move
☆Self
☆Do
☆Try
☆Happy
☆Peace
☆Perfect  (the verb)
☆Accept
☆Pride
☆Believe
☆Simplify
☆Minimize
☆Focus
☆Healthy
☆Save
☆Live
☆Fun
☆Thankful
☆Brave
☆Create
☆Joy
☆Choose
☆Strive
☆Change
☆Act
☆Enough
☆Push

I realized I was falling into my same old New Year’s resolutions habits. Too many things I want to change. I wanted to find the perfect word that would encompass all the areas of my life that I wanted to improve: my weight, my parenting, my attitude, my lack of motivation to do anything sometimes, my relationships, my low self-esteem, etc, etc. Some of the above words could apply to some of these areas, but none really touched on ALL. And this thought process was defeating the entire purpose of #onelittleword.

And then I saw my #onelittleword was right there all along. It is something I want to do in all areas of my life. A single word that takes into account where I’m starting and how far I want to go without limiting me or being too grandiose. As soon as I thought it I knew it was THE #onelittleword that could motivate me, focus me, and not set me up for failure before I even started.

My #onelittleword for 2015: improve.
I am ready for you, 2015.

Surgery Update

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I was very worried about how Easton would handle his recovery from his tonsil & adenoidectomy Wednesday. Especially given his temperament & how he’s dealt with minor injuries & illness in the past. I never in a million years would have believed it would be easy for him. And that’s where I would be wrong.
Scott & I just keep shaking our heads in disbelief at what an amazing trooper he has been. This little guy has had so little pain that at one point yesterday I made him let me look in his mouth, thinking maybe they forgot to take his tonsils. Nope. They are gone. He is just that amazing!
When we took him to the hospital in the morning, he was in great spirits. He never even asked to eat or drink anything. He didn’t seem nervous or concerned at all. Even when they took us back to prepare him for surgery and there was a older baby/toddler screaming & crying the whole time he was prepped. Nothing. Calm. Happy. Curious. (BTW, when we went to recovery that baby/toddler was still screaming & crying! Poor parents.)
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This picture is before the Versed kicked in. He was being silly biting his LaLas.

The nurse gave Easton Versed about 45 minutes before he went back. I was amazed at how fast that worked for him. 5 mins after taking it he was getting sleepy. The doctor said that would help him be calm and not remember any of the pre-op stuff, but last night I asked him which shows he watched on the TV (Jake & The Neverland Pirates and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) at the hospital and he remembered. I’ll ask him again today.
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This picture is after the Versed kicked in and he was watching the TV.

They took him back for surgery at 9:02. He was calm. I was a mess watching them wheel him away. I held it together the whole time, even then, but I was trying so hard not to act nervous in front of him. After he was taken back, my nerves came to the surface, along with my 3 cups of coffee, and I was visibly shaking.

Scott and I went to the waiting room. I had to fill out a bunch of permission slips for end-of-the-year activities for Macy. By the time I finished those, we were called to the consult room at 9:28. He was done. The doctor kept us waiting in the consult room for 15 minutes, but finally came and told us everything went great. He said that the tonsils were larger than they looked and that the adenoids definitely needed to come out. He also said we/he would notice a difference in his breathing right away. He talked to us about pain management, which was not clear AT ALL. Basically, the FDA doesn’t recommend narcotics for young kids, but it’s fine. Very confusing.

We then got to go back as Easton was waking up. I felt like he was really struggling. He didn’t want to open his eyes. He just wanted to sleep. The nurse said he was really good because he wasn’t crying (as 2 kids and 1 tiny baby around us were screaming). It was funny to me that Easton had no desire to make a sound. Scott and the nurse thought it was because his throat hurt, but I think he was just so disoriented and sleepy it didn’t occur to him. (When Owen came out of his anesthesia,  he WAS MAD! He was screaming,  “I’m ANGRY!” And kind of growling.)

We kept talking to him and he would kind of open his eyes, but then he’d try to close them and turn on his side to sleep again. If we asked him questions he’d stare off. Instead of trying to talk he’d give us a thumbs up or down. I was just really struck by how he didn’t try to talk. I think if he wasn’t talking because of throat pain, he would have tried making sounds, but he never did until later.

It was about 20 minutes until he was keeping his eyes open completely. He was still staring off though. I had been trying to give him ice, but he only wanted a couple pieces before shaking his head. He gave thumbs up to wanting a popsicle. But barely ate it. He finally talked and said he wanted to go home. Then he noticed Scott was gone (to the pharmacy)and he got upset and tearful thinking he left without him, but he calmed quickly and never really cried.

Scott came back & we got Easton changed back into his pjs.
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I tried to sneak a picture while we were waiting for Scott to get the car and as soon as Easton saw my phone he couldn’t help but smile… like a reflex!
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This is how he looked through most of recovery, but he was in a hospital gown.
Then Scott left again to move the car. They brought a wheelchair and had him sit on my lap. It was reminiscent of being wheeled out with all of my babies in my arms after they were born, but 35+ pounds heavier and not as happy an occasion. I snuck a selfie:
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On the way home Easton puked up the little bit of his popsicle that he ate, and I was irritated they didn’t prepare us for that. With Macy, they gave us a little throw up bag. I just wasn’t even thinking about it this time.
We got home and he went straight to bed for almost 2 hours. We woke him up to give him his pain medicine and some juice. He then got out of bed. He came into the family room and had a push pop:
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He was feeling fine, good even:
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The rest of the afternoon & evening he had another popsicle, drank his juice & played video games. At 7ish, he told me he was hungry. I gave him Jello. He wanted eggs, so I scrambled 2 eggs and he ate them all! He then wanted pudding, which I hadn’t made yet. So I made it. I asked him if his throat hurt and he said, “Just a little, because if it was a lot I would be crying.”
Then he ran around the kitchen while I was cleaning up, acting completely normal and healthy. He was talking my ear off. He wanted to know when the pudding would be cool enough to eat. I put it in the freezer to speed it along.
Scott put him to bed at 8:15, after he happily ate his pudding. He fell right asleep. He had kept him on the recommended drug schedule of every 3 hours, alternating Vicoden and Advil. The discharge papers recommended waking him during he night, the first few nights, for pain medicine. We planned for a 1am dose. When we tried to give it to him, he REALLY didn’t want it. Especially because it was the bad tasting Vicoden. So we talked him into at least the Advil. I mean, come on, he had to take something after we set alarms and woke him and accidentally,  Owen. So he did finally take the Advil.

He woke for the day at 6:30, acting and feeling fine. We weren’t sure if he was feeling so good all day yesterday because we’d kept good medicine in him, or if his throat was still numb from the surgery, or if he was just A Stud about pain. Regardless, we were ready for today to be worse. I remember the morning being horrible after my surgery because sleeping made the scabs dry up and really hurt. But it wasn’t an issue for Easton.
He drank some juice, had a pudding and some Tylenol and played Disney Infinity all morning. After an hour or so he started to act a little “off” for him. He was easily frustrated with the video game and protested a little bit about eating some eggs, but that was it. We let his friend from next door come over to play video games with him and they had popsicles and laughed and you would never have known he had surgery the day before.
We are so proud of how he’s handled this whole thing. I think we’ve learned a bit about pre-judging our kids. I realize things can still go to hell, but I just don’t think they will, at this point. I am really looking forward to seeing Easton completely healed and what long-term benefits this surgery will provide.

Tonsils and Adenoids, Oh My!

Easton on Easter 2014

Easton on Easter 2014

My little guy Easton will be having surgery on Wednesday. He will have his adenoids and tonsils removed. I am a wreck about it. He’s not the first in the family to have this done. Owen had his tonsils and adenoids removed when he was 5, in 2008; I had my tonsils removed in the fall of 2012; and Macy had her tonsils removed when she was 12, in December of 2012. And I think that is what is making this worse for me. I KNOW what he is in for, and therefore, what WE are in for.

With Owen, I was blissfully unaware of what to expect. And he was easy! He had– and has– an unbelievable pain tolerance. It was bad for 3-4 days. And then he rapidly improved. His surgery was very necessary because his tonsils were so large that they caused him to snore so loudly and stop breathing in his sleep.

With me, I was MISERABLE for 14 days. It was so bad that I SWORE I would never subject one of my kids to this again! I felt horribly guilty for having put Owen through it, even though I knew it was medically necessary. I regretted doing it to myself also. I second guessed how bad my tonsils were to begin with, even though they were pretty darn bad. I didn’t feel normal again for at least a month after the surgery.

Next, with Macy, it was a difficult decision. Her surgery was authorized for an unconventional reason: tonsil stones. Her tonsils were much larger than average, and very cryptic. These holes in her tonsils would produce a ball of bacteria puss that she could feel in the back of her throat. These things were such an ordeal for her. She would act like a cat with a hair ball: coughing and choking and gagging until one would dislodge. This would happen 3-5 times a week. Many times it happened at school, especially when she was playing her instrument. It was so embarrassing for her. Then she would be tasked with trying to discreetly dispose of this smelly, gross, bacteria puss ball. The doctor was very sympathetic. He said that the tonsil stones would probably get worse as she got older if her tonsils continued to grow. He said that some people would unexpectedly have these tonsil stones go shooting out of their mouths at inappropriate and inopportune times, with no warning whatsoever!! He explained how bad the recovery from surgery would be, but he guaranteed she would never have another tonsil stone again. He said that at 12 years old she was old enough to decide for herself if she wanted the surgery. I’ll be honest, I tried to talk her out of it. I knew how bad it was. But she wanted to go ahead with it. Her recovery was closer to my experience. She was miserable for almost a full 2 weeks. She regretted her decision to have the surgery. But then she got better, her throat healed, and she was glad she would never have another tonsil stone again.

So that brings me to Easton. Why does he need this surgery? Since he turned 3 I have brought up his speech at his yearly well-check. And 2 years in a row we have gone for speech therapy evaluations. Each time being told that he has some delays, but they are within normal for his age. For over 3 years, I have watched as people look to me to “translate” what he is saying to them or constantly ask him to repeat something. It was so sad! Lately, if someone would ask him “What?” he would say, “Forget it.” It was frustrating for him and heartbreaking for me. He had ideas that he couldn’t convey and gave up trying! So I continued to advocate for him. At his 5 year well-check, I brought it up again and the doctor ordered another speech therapy evaluation (his third in 3 years!) and a hearing test. The hearing test came first. The tech who did it was amazing! Turns out, he had one when he was 3 too that I forgot about. But even though he technically passed both tests, she noted that he had trouble hearing a certain range both times. She went back and read a note on the first test that said he had a cold when tested and probably had fluid in his ears. This time he didn’t currently have a cold, but had the same results. She looked in his ears and did not see any fluid, even though his current result also looked like he could have it. She asked me about his speech issues. She asked me about how many colds he gets (A LOT… almost continual colds). Then she said, “My ‘Mommy Senses’ are telling me that something more is going on with him. I’m going to have the ENT doctor look at him, even though I normally don’t refer patients who technically pass.” So a week later we see the pediatric ENT who agreed with the hearing test tech. He was quite confident that it was Easton’s adenoids that were pushing on his eustachian tubes and causing the hearing issues and thus, the speech issues, and also the reason he was sick all the time. The doctor also commented that the entire time Easton was in the exam room, he breathed 100% with his mouth open, which I never thought about, but he always does. He said that is a sign of enlarged adenoids and that it can lead to other issues with his palate development and teeth. He ordered an x-ray to confirm, but scheduled the surgery before getting the results, he was that confident. He recommended taking his tonsils at the same time because his were enlarged and because of our strong family history of tonsil issues. He said he might as well do both now, than have to do a second surgery later. I reluctantly agreed. A few days later the doctor emailed to inform us that the x-ray showed that Easton’s adenoids were extremely enlarged and blocking 80-85% of his nasal passage. My poor guy! No wonder he was having so many issues.

So here we are, less than 33 hours away from Easton’s surgery. And I am so sad for him. Not only does he not have anywhere close to the pain tolerance Owen had at his age, he has a completely different personality. Where Owen was a loud, outgoing, and carefree 5 year old; Easton is a shy, sensitive, and often-times anxious 5 year old. He already hates going to the doctor because of shots and blood draws, how is he going to react to this?

We finally told him tonight and he predictably FREAKED OUT. He hid under the table. Said he wasn’t going to do it. And cried. We tried to find out what he was really scared of, but it really came down to all of the unknowns of it. I tried to give him more information, using age-appropriate language, but he wasn’t even able to listen without getting more upset. We talked to him about all the popsicles and ice cream he will get to eat afterwards, but he wasn’t listening. The best thing was just to stop talking about it and move on to something else. I hope that he’ll try to process it over the next 24 hours and maybe have some questions that we can calmly answer for him. I have accepted that he’s never going to be excited or happy to go, but this surgery is necessary to improve his quality of life, and it is my job as his mom to just get him to it and then get him through it. It is not about me. It is about him. And he will be fine.

Worthy

So, I haven’t been writing a lot. I’ve been busy feeling the feelings and thinking about writing. And there have been a lot of feelings. All over the place types of feelings. I know that blogging isn’t like it used to be. So I feel torn about writing about all these feelings here. But I write this thing for me. I want to document my feelings. My changes. My growth.

My growth.

I have been so busy lately beating myself up about basically quitting on my weight-loss journey that I have sunken into a pretty horrible depression. It totally follows my typical depression cycles. Staying up late. Disengaging from household duties. Over-engaging in mind-numbing activities (phone games, twitter, tv shows, books). Sleeping as much as I can during the day. Doing the bare minimum to sustain a family life.

When I’m in these cycles I am miserable and I know I am making everyone else miserable, but I don’t or can’t care enough to stop. Which makes me mad at myself… even when I’m in the middle of it, I hate it and therefore hate myself. Which perpetuates the cycle.

The weirdest thing helped me want to break this latest cycle. And a HUGE part of me is embarrassed by what made me want to snap out of it. I’m talking, head shaking, tear inducing embarrassment. I thought I wanted to write about it. But as I went to type the words I was too embarrassed. Huh. I can still surprise myself. (Aside: embarrassment, or avoiding embarrassment, is a very big motivator for me. It is so big that I get extremely uncomfortable watching other people embarrassing themselves, which is why I don’t watch Reality TV. I feel their embarrassment. Which I try to avoid at any cost. So why would I watch something that makes me feel that?)

So what is my take away from this embarrassing thing that snapped me out of my depressive state? It doesn’t matter it what IT actually is. It just matters that I use it and run with the feelings it stirred up and get myself out of this miserable condition.

This is how my thought process went:

EMBARRASSING THOUGHT.>>

I’m fat and old and unworthy of even THINKING about this embarrassing thing.>>

Wait. Are those things true?>> Fat? Yes. I am obese. But not obese enough to qualify for gastric bypass via my HMO. Stupid HMO.>>

Old? Well, not really. I’m going to be 39 in a few weeks, which means I am going to be 40 in a little over a year. I have a lot of good years ahead. I am technically not old, despite saying it and feeling it.>>

Unworthy? Why have I never realized that unworthy is how I have felt most of my life? This is the way I feel about everything in my life. Not just about EMBARRASSING THOUGHT.>>

Wow. I think if I were in therapy this would be a break-through moment!>>

How do I use this realization to change my feeling of unworthiness?

 

So because of the above thoughts, I went from thinking EMBARRASSING THOUGHT to wanting to feel worthy and make changes in my life. All of a sudden, I want to refuse to accept that the rest of my life is going to be a continuation of the miserable feelings I feel on a nearly constant basis because of my unworthiness. I want to change the things in my life that I am unhappy with. I realize and accept that it has to start with me. I’m starting to want some big goals for myself. That is a new feeling. I know I won’t accomplish those goals if I don’t feel worthy of them. How do I make myself feel worthy?

I’m not completely sure but I’m going to start with the following:

  • Tell myself I’m worthy at least 3 times a day.
  • Live like I feel worthy.
  • Take steps to change the things I am miserable about. (Everything in my depressive cycle. My weight. Current family dynamic.)
  • Start DREAMING BIG! (I have BIG GOALS that I’m scared to think about because I feel so unworthy. I am WORTHY! I can accomplish them!)

February, Already????

And almost mid-February, at that. Geesh.

I have felt All The Feelings and had all the ups and downs for a whole year in these first few weeks of 2014.

I need to recap some biggies here before I forget.

January started and I was feeling SO MOTIVATED to get healthy. I mean it. FULLY MOTIVATED. This was it!!! I was going to get healthy and lose 30 lbs by my birthday (April 11th) to jump start my 39th year. Then I was going to focus on losing the rest of this weight (modestly another 50, ambitiously another 80) by my 40th birthday, next year. I could just feel it in my core that I was really going to do it! I was excited! I was ready to do the hard work!

And then I had a possible job opportunity that sent me into a tailspin mentally. This was for a full-time teaching position at a high school I recently did a 6 month long term substitute assignment. I was conflicted about working, to say the least! On the one hand, the VERY, heavy, big hand, we NEEDED me to have this well-paying job. We are in serious jeopardy of losing our house. We are in our last chance of getting a modification on our home loan. (This is for another post. I cannot write about all the details until I know what the final outcome is going to be. Some details: DH was demoted, to the tune of $30k less a year 2.5 years ago. Up until the baby was born, I had been substitute teaching here and there and looking for some type of part-time job, to no avail. We’ve been trying to get our loan modified since we knew about the pay cut. They won’t even consider you for a modification until you have missed some payments. So we did. We kept getting denied for ILLEGAL reasons. We filed bankruptcy. We hired lawyers. We are still waiting to hear. It has been a horrible way to live, raise our family, and have a new baby amid such uncertainty. A really, really horrible way to live, if you can even call it living. I’ve wanted to walk away so many times just to be out from under this burden. DH feels strongly about staying. It has taken its toll on our marriage.) So, anyways, me having this job would have financially answered a lot of our prayers, all of them actually. So applying for the job was really a no-brainer. I had to do it. BUT, that brought up so many worries. And I, historically, am not a worrier, although I was raised by a champion worrier. So worry is a difficult thing for me to feel. But I felt plenty of worry.

Most of my worries were about how I could possibly manage working full-time and still be a decent mom to my 4 kids. I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. The 6 month assignment I previously worked at this school was VERY difficult because I was pregnant and had 3 kids. How could I do it with 4? Some of my worry was about the baby. My mom refused to commit to babysitting (like she has always done, but that’s for another post) 5 days a week. So I would have to find outside care. This bothered me to my core. I felt like I sacrificed so much to stay home while my kids were babies, and then to go back and have to put the last baby in a stranger’s care?? Even now, weeks later, I’m tearing up just thinking about it. It makes me feel like a failure as a mom (and it makes me angry with my mom, but again, another post). The rest of my worry was about if I still had what it took to teach 5 periods a day. (I will post about my thoughts on me as a teacher another day too. Soon. I will.)

But through all of my worries, I was most worried about if I would get it. I thought I had more than a fair chance. I thought everyone was happy with my performance 2 years ago. My friend is an administrator there. I had a pretty good interview. The job was supposed to start the first Monday of February. I got a call the Wednesday before that saying they had to keep interviewing because the HR boss felt they didn’t have enough of a pool to pick from on such a tight time crunch. He said he would be in touch. It has been 2 weeks since I’ve heard anything. I’ve assumed I did not get the job. The emotions I’ve felt over this have been all over the place. Not getting this job hurt more than I expected it to.

So from mid-January, when I first applied for this job, till now, I have been an emotional mess. With the HIGHS of how great this job would be financially for my family. To the LOWS about having to arrange outside childcare and the stress about working full-time and then NOT getting the job. So that just opened the door to my old nemesis: Depression. I have not been depressed in such a long time. I was not prepared for its return. I don’t think I need to go back on any medication just yet, because so much of my feelings revolve around situations that will be resolving soon or have resolved. But I just need to acknowledge that the Depression is back and work on fighting through it. That’s a big part of why I’m writing this. It helps me feel my feelings.

I wish I could rewind back to the second week of January, where I was losing weight and in a great place mentally. I would never apply for the job. I would never actually look at the posting for that job. Yeah, right. I wish. Since I can’t do that, I just need to recommit and refocus. I’m going to start with my menu planning. For whatever reason, the small act of sitting down and focusing on what I’m going to cook and buy for the week really helps in other areas. It makes me feel empowered. It motivates me. It makes me a better me.

So that’s where I’m going to start.

A Shot in the Foot

My plantar fasciitis has been bugging me since August,  when I started working out again. Some days it is so bad that by 4pm I can only hobble along. Some days it doesn’t bother me at all. So I kept putting going to the doctor off. Because I know what the treatment is and I swore I would never do it again.
In the Spring of 2011, I was also suffering from this horrible affliction. I had been working out and had lost 25 pounds. It was supposed to get better after I lost 20, it did not. So I went to my regular doctor and got a referral to a podiatrist. I was surprised when at the first visit he told me he was going to give me a cortisone injection. Then he proceeded to inflict unimaginable pain on my foot and try to shame me at the same time. It was the weirdest, least professional medical experience in my life!
First thing he did was come in the room with a very large needle, but he left the door ajar. He reclined my chair and then sprayed my foot with useless numbing spray at the SAME TIME AS HE INJECTED MY FOOT MULTIPLE TIMES. (The spray needs time to numb before I should have been injected!) It happened so fast and was so painful, I tried to muffle my screams. He was shushing me. Then he stopped, looked at me, kept the needle in my foot, reached his other arm back to shut the door and said, “I have to shut the door because you’re being so loud. This is nothing! You’ve had 3 babies. Come on now.”
I was in shock. I was in pain. I was ashamed. Through my tears, I quickly and clearly said, “I also had 3 epidurals. And this HURTS MORE.” And I squirmed and moaned more quietly. I then hobbled out of there because NOW my foot was numb from all the numbing spray.
It was a horrible medical experience.  But it worked. It fixed the pain from the plantar fasciitis. But it was such a traumatic experience I vowed, no matter how bad I felt, I would never do it again.
Fast forward two and a half years and here I am at my regular doctor today asking if there is any other options for treating this damn thing. She said no, that it is the best and only real treatment (besides losing weight, which she acknowledged, is hard to do when you cant walk without pain), and especially for me, since it worked the first time. So I recounted my experience and she agreed it was horrible. She then suggested I see a Nurse Practitioner in her office, who specialized in podiatry. I wasn’t so sure. I know cortisone shots can be less painful if administered by someone who does them a lot and does this NP do a lot? She didn’t know, but when I asked her if she would let this same NP give her this injection, she said, “Yes. No doubt, if I decided to get a shot in my foot, which would be very unlikely, because it is such a sensitive area, but if I needed it, yeah, she would be the one to give it to me.” So, with that I said I’d make an appointment with the NP.
At the desk to make the appointment I was a little shocked to find out my choice of appointments was tomorrow or January 11th. So I made the appointment for tomorrow and am freaking out that I have so little time to mentally prepare. But really,  nothing is going to make me ready for this. I just hope it works and is all worth it. 

My Thyroid Cancer Journey, part 2

Micrograph showing that the papillae in papill...

Micrograph showing that the papillae in papillary thyroid carcinoma are composed of cuboidal cells. H&E stain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To continue from yesterday’s post, I had my thyroid out on March 7, 2007 because of papillary thyroid cancer that was confirmed the month prior.

March 25, 2007: Radioactive Iodine treatment day. Two days earlier I sent Scott and the kids away in the motor home to start vacation and to leave me alone, as the radioactive iodine treatment could make me be dangerous to the kids and their developing thyroids. The taking of the pill itself was no big deal, just weird. The pill comes in this big, iron box. The tech opens the bottle, careful not to touch the pill, and drops it in my hand and then the tech scurries behind protective glass and watches me swallow the pill. Then I’m sent on my merry way. I have to take precautions with my “waste”: flush twice, use only one set of dishes/cups that can be disposed of later, bedding has to be bagged for 2 weeks before washing, avoid close contact with people for 5 days. My only side effect was my salivary glands got very swollen and sore. It wasn’t horrible. I missed my family very, very much, so I spent a good amount of time in a depressive sleep.

April-September 2007: This was a very trying time for me as I adjusted to life without a thyroid trying to get my dose of thyroid medication right for me. I was so tired and so depressed all the time. Being hypothyroid was no joke. Thyroid medicine takes awhile to build up in your system… weeks, in fact, up to 6 weeks. My doctor was tired of hearing from me. I did blood tests every 3-4 weeks and my TSH just wouldn’t come down into the normal range. At one point, after months of being on a lot of thyroid medicine, my blood TSH was 137!! (The normal range is 2-12. My normal range for cancer suppression is under 2. And when I doing tests that call for my levels to be elevated, they just want them to be above 50.) So finally, after being on mega–doses of generic brand medicine, my doctor suggested I try name-brand Synthroid. A month after I switched, I started to feel normal again. I was told to only take name brand from now on.

September 2007 and March 2008: I have a nuclear thyroid scans to check if any cancer can be detected. It comes back negative.

August 2008: We have moved back to California and I am newly pregnant with my third baby. Early pregnancy sends my thyroid levels crazy. I feel horribly hypothyroid and none of my new doctors listen to me (they write it off as just normal early pregnancy symptoms) until my blood tests come back at 12.9. High TSH in early pregnancy can cause miscarriage. They pay attention now. I get a new endocrinologist who I like a trust a lot. She doesn’t really like that as a new post-cancer patient she can’t run her own tests on me because of my pregnancy, but she makes due and actually calls my Colorado doctor to get some information clarified. I love that she did that, especially considering how difficult my Colorado doctor was to get time with.

Februrary 2009:  Easton is born. After the initial pregnancy wonky-ness, my thyroid gives me no trouble.

Summer 2009: My blood levels start to concern my endocrinologist because the one they use as a thyroid cancer marker has been steadily rising. Because I am breastfeeding, I cannot do any of the nuclear tests. She has me do a CT scan instead. My thyroid area looks fine, but the CT scan picks up an abnormal sized thymus (some random gland that usually atrophies in adults). It would be exceedingly rare for it to be anything, but my doctor is concerned because it is such an odd thing to be enlarged. It ends up being nothing but causing a lot of drama and stress for me.

March 2010: I am finished breastfeeding and my doctor really wants me to do another Radioactive Iodine treatment. She is just concerned that my levels have continued to rise. She really wants to do a treatment to “knock it down” and keep me at a better baseline.

June 2010: Second Radioactive Iodine treatment. This time, because I have a baby, my doctor admits me to the hospital for three days so I don’t risk hurting his thyroid. After the 3 days in the hospital, I stay another 5 days at my parents house. That was a lonely time too.

August 2010: My levels did not drop at all and my doctor does not know why. She orders an MRI. It is negative. She is confident that I don’t have “bulk disease” (aka tumors) and that it is probably just my baseline. They can never get 100% of the thyroid removed from surgery and the RAI is supposed to kill any remaining thyroid. The tests they use as a “cancer marker” (thyroglobulin) is actually just testing how much thyroid you have at all, because the unique thing about thyroid cancer is that is typically only can regrow on thyroid tissue. And since some parts of your thyroid can regenerate, they like to use the RAI to zap it back down. Unfortunately, too many RAI treatments increase your risk for other cancers. After this last treatment got no results, I made the decision to not do another RAI unless there is more evidence that the cancer is back, not just microscopic thyroid tissue.

2011:  Everything is stable thyroid-wise. Just blood tests are done and 6 month doctor visits.

February – October 2012: Pregnancy number 4. Thyroid is completely normal this pregnancy. No trouble at all.

December 2012: At my regular endocrinologist appointment, she notices (via ultrasound) that one of my lymph nodes seems enlarged. This is the first time that she tells me that because of my age at diagnosis, she expects that my thyroid cancer will return at least once more in the span of my life. She also said the most likely way that will happen will be through it spreading to my lymph nodes. I do a bunch more tests (more ultrasounds and an MRI). She consults with Ear Nose and Throat doctor. It definitely is enlarged, but not alarmingly so. We are going to wait and watch. If it continues to grow, I will have a complicated surgery to remove the entire chain of lymph nodes. I REALLY do not want this.

Current: As of now, everything remains stable with my blood levels and lymph node size. I am very grateful for that. The best thing about thyroid cancer is how slow growing it is. So that is in my favor. I just hate how just when I forget that I ever had thyroid cancer, I get news that brings me back to reality. Will this kill me? Probably not. I see my friend who has a horrible cancer and what she has been through, and I consider myself so very lucky. But I, of course, wish that I didn’t have this either.