Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thyroid Cancer..What a pain in the neck!

For the past five and a half years I have been dealing with hypothyroidism and Hashimotos (an auto immune disorder).  I take my daily synthroid and accept the "side effects" of these conditions.  However this past year I had two different surgeries in which both anesthesiologist mentioned my big goiter and recommended I get my thyroid checked.  I explained that I already knew it was enlarged and see a doctor three times a year to manage it.  However, the second anesthesiologist came back after surgery saying he had a hard time intebating me because of the large mass.  

So I decided to head their advise.  On my next visit to my endocrinologist I mentioned that I need a new scan of my thyroid since it had been five years.  He blew me off!  So a few weeks later I called his office staff and insisted they put an order in for one.  They did :)!  

The results of the scan showed that the small tumors that were detected five years ago had tripled in size and more had grown.  I also had a large mass and another biopsy was recommended.  I quickly changed endo's (never liked my original one anyway) and got a second opinion.  My new endo recommended the biopsy.  So I went in for the terrible procedure.  I had had it once before and it is not pleasant!  However one of my patients mom's did the procedure and she did an great job and was very gentle.  It is good to have medical connections!

My 10 different biopsies came back negative which left me with a decision to make.  My endo encouraged me to see a surgeon/ent.  He felt I should have the tumors removed because of size.  Both doctors agreed with each other.  The problem...I had already had 2 surgeries this year and really did not feel like having another one!  Plus do I really need ANOTHER scar??!!  

So I left the surgeons office with no plans on having the surgery.  I wanted some "doctor" time out!  Two weeks later his staff called me with a surgery date of October 31st.  I laughed and said that one- my husband is out of town on business that day, two- I have kids and that is a holiday and three- I am not going to have the surgery.  They were a bit shocked at my hesitation to have the surgery and encouraged me to have it.  A few days later the surgeon called me himself and insisted that surgery was the best option.  I told him I was busy and a lot going on so I would not be available to have the surgery until Thanksgiving.  So the date was set for November 20th.

 The surgery was going to be done on an outpatient basis and I would return home the same day.  I had not told many people about the surgery because I did not think it was a big deal.  Only a few close friends and my parents knew.  Many of you know that it is not easy for me to accept help from others so I insisted on no meals.  However some unknown saint left this meal on my porch a few days before surgery.  Another friend insisted on bringing dinner to my family the day of surgery.  Thank heaven for good friends!

 The day before surgery I took a few "before" pictures of my neck without my "new scar" that was going to end up there.

November 20th quickly approached and it was game time!  I went to the hospital, got prepped for surgery (which is no easy feat with my terrible veins- they have to use the baby needles for my IV after 10 tries with regular needles), had a pre-surgery consult and was ready to go.  I have been through this process 16 times in the past 20 years so I was pretty prepared for everything! This was going to be a routine, video guided (to minimize scaring) surgery to remove the tumors off my thyroid.

When I came out of surgery I over heard the nurse calling for a room for me.  I said "Wait I thought I was suppose to go home today".  She looked at me and said "Oh no honey, you have CANCER and have to stay in the hospital".  That was a blow..however I never felt upset, but rather relieved.  The spirit confirmed immediately that I would be okay.

Proof I have bad veins...they keep collapsing 

The report from the surgeon goes like this...he opened me up and was shocked at the amount of cancer that had encased itself around my esophagus, vocal cords and coartic artery on the right lobe of the thyroid.  He very carefully scraped as much as he could out and removed the right side of my thyroid.  The left side looked good so he kept it in.  During surgery, but after he had closed my neck back up the pathology reports came back indicating that the entire thyroid had cancer. So he opened me back up and removed the rest of my thyroid.  I needed to stay overnight for observation of my reaction and my calcium levels.

Day of surgery
 Ryan went to the store to get me some essentials and to stay with me until the evening hours.  We would look at each other and just say "I Can't Believe You Have Cancer!"  Guess what everyone...Cancer doesn't hurt!  My heart was so full of gratefulness to the doctors who detected and urged me to have the surgery.  Catching it early means that it did not have time to spread to my lymph nodes.  It was definitely a day of gratitude!

My neck hurt so bad!  I am pretty tough, but to talk or swallow was a killer!  Popsicles were my hero!

Day two

Since I had to stay overnight I was reminded again of how thankful I am for wonderful family and friends.  If it wasn't for the meal the night of the surgery my kids would have been eating a bowl of cereal!  Recovery from the surgery took a lot longer than I had anticipated and that was the biggest bummer of all.  So many good friends brought me frozen yogurt, flowers, magazines and dinner for my family. My home looked like a florist!


Boy is that the truth...literally!

two weeks after surgery

three weeks post surgery
Before surgery

one month post surgery..I have the best surgeon!  He did a fantastic job cutting and repairing!
 So to get rid of the remaining Cancer Cells I had to go through a radioactive iodine treatment.  Once my tsh levels were at 50 I was given a low dose of radiation and told to return in two days for a full body scan.  The scan would detect how much cancer remained in my body.  Based on those findings the next day I came in and received a high dosage of radioactive iodine and was told to be in seclusion for three and a half days.  On December 20th I went into seclusion in the downstairs bedroom.  Everything had to be covered, door closed and no one was allowed near the room.  I could only use paper and plastic and anything that I touched my mouth had to be thrown away in a sealed plastic trash bag.  This was powerful stuff!  It was a lonely three days, however I was so sick I really didn't care.  
This was the container for one small pill.  The doctor wouldn't even be in the room when it was opened and I was not allowed to touch it.

 Luckily I got out of seclusion around 1:30 p.m. on December 23rd so I could spend Christmas with the family!  I went back on my birthday, December 30th, for a follow up body scan.  The scan was not completely clear, but most of the cancer cells were gone and the iodine was still working so the doctors are confident it will all be gone by my next scan!  

I was able to start back on my synthroid four days later... thankfully. It will take about six months to figure out the correct dosage.   I am still not symptom free, but am getting better.  Some of the symptoms of no thyroid include....always cold (or should  I say FREEZING..still having a problem with that 10 weeks later), hair breakage, memory loss, extreme fatigue, constipation, weight gain and a slew of others that I can't remember.  Did I say memory is real! haha! 

If you know me I did not let this keep me down...all the Christmas presents got bought and wrapped and I kept going like the energizer bunny.  Did I want to just crawl in a warm bed and forget everything else..somedays yes.  But my mantra was "Don't give into the beast".  I didn't and I won!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

SJHHS Varsity Tennis 2013

Madalyn made the Varsity girls tennis team this year as a Junior.  She had the opportunity to play singles and doubles, however she prefers doubles!  It was a rough coach, new division, but she played well and had a good time!  

Friday, November 15, 2013

I "Mustache" you to Vote 4 Meredith

Meredith decided she wanted to run to be the Activities Director on Student Council.  She took a test and qualified so the campaign began!

She went with the mustache theme because she LOVES her mustache earrings and necklace!  She was able to incorporate them into her campaign!  There were two other girls and three boys running against her.  She handled her speech smoothly in front of over 350 students!

"Hi my name is Meredith Jones. I mustache you to vote for me for activities director. I’ll rally for fun days like mustache Monday, tie Tuesday,  wacky hair Wednesday, sports jersey Thursday, and fun sock Friday. I’ll make school exciting! Afterall learning is better in a fun environment!

Vote for me because I’m responsible, nice, and like to have fun. So I 'mustache' you a question… I 'mustache' you to vote for Meredith Jones for activities director!"

The speeches were on a Friday and the results were not posted until the following Tuesday.  She was so happy to win and begin planning fun activities for the school!
 Introducing the new ASB for LRES!  Meredith is the only 4th grader..the rest are 5th graders!