Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Awake again...naturally

Weird dreams last night, horrible scary dreams tonight. I'm not usually a dreamer, so this is new territory. I don't mind the weird funny ones, but these scary Hannibal Lechter-type dreams have got to go. Hoping that listening to the Psalms will chase them away tonight so I can get back to sleep!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Just Keep Swimming...

and call me Dori!
You'll understand that if you've seen the animated movie "Finding Nemo". She's the comical fish who can't remember anything for longer than 5 minutes. Here's a few examples...
Yesterday at lunchtime I put a potato in the miscrowave for lunch. About an hour later, I remembered it was in there and ate it.
Later on, I put beef stew in the crock pot so I could have dinner. At bedtime, Liz said, "Hey Mom, you left the crock pot on!" I couldn't even remember why it was on in the first place. I had cake for dinner.
It's definitely made life more interesting, since every day is new and different, even if I'm doing the same old thing.
Just keep swimming, and call me Dori! You'll understant that if you've seen...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Something Different for a Change

Today at work I was walking a 92 year old female patient to the check out desk. She's a delightfully sweet lady. When we got to the desk, I was facing her, giving her some final instructions. She noticed my scar. I held my breath, waiting to hear, "You've had open-heart surgery" for the millionth time. She said instead, "Is that a tattoo?" I could have kissed her!
And I laughed all the way into the next patient's room...
Thank you, Mrs. X, for changing it up a little!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Happy Anniversary?

Happy Anniversary?
Today is the one year anniversary of my mom's death. From cancer. I think the fact that both my parents died with cancer has made this whole cancer thing just a little more scary to me.

Today marks a year full of things without my mom. That's a year full of birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, summertime, Grandparents Day, Mother's Day and lots of other special days that were marked without her. My parents would have been married 49 years this year. I ordered my usual school pictures this year, so I had a 5x7 leftover that normally would have gone to mom. I got much less mail this year, since there were no letters from mom. I would have loved to have my mom here while going through all this cancer crap, but I'm glad that she didn't have to see me in I.C.U. in so much pain and having so much trouble breathing. She was a really good worrier, and she would have had a lot to worry about.

Shortly after my mom died, Lizzie observed that now I was an orphan. She wondered if I wished that someone would adopt me. I guess I short of do wish that I wasn't an orphan, but no one could ever replace the parents I miss.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's 1 A.M...

on Wednesday night, and I'm obviously still awake. Probably won't be going to work tomorrow. Didn't go to work today. Jeff wants me to stay home till I can get on thyroid meds. When he first mentioned that a few weeks ago, I didn't like the idea, but it's looking better the later it gets tonight. Or this morning.

Insomnia is a mysterious thing to me. I go to bed when I'm dog-tired, thinking I'll fall right to sleep. But something about the horizontal positioning of my body triggers something to overtake the dog-tiredness, replacing it with exhausted wide-awakeness. Perhaps I need to rig up a way for me to sleep standing up, to avoid the horizontal position? Sleeping pills seem to be no match for whatever causes this problem. Maybe it's time to break out "all the beer, wine and alcohol I want" from the Low Iodine Diet...nah!

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXY....just can't catch a Z anywhere!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pressing On

Pressing On

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Phil 3:13-14

Pressing on toward Calvary
Just to show His love for me;
Pressing onward to the Cross
All to seek and save the lost.
Pressing on to meet the grave,
Pressing on, His sheep to save,
Pressing upward to His throne
Pressing forth to claim His own.

Pressing onward toward the goal
Pressing on to be made whole.
Straining forward toward the prize,
Jesus, ever before my eyes.
Pressing on to heed the call:
Giving Him my life, my all;
Pressing on to run this race,
Able to because of grace.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tyranny of the Mundane but Necessary

This low iodine diet (LID) has me cooking the most now that I'm feeling the worst. Since I've been back to work, cooking hasn't been high on my list of fun things to do, so I opt for quick and easy most of the time. But the LID requires endless vegetable chopping, fruit slicing, fresh meat preparing. I don't want to get out of bed most days, so I certainly don't feel like chopping, slicing and preparing!
Enter the blessing. She is beautiful. Five feet tall, curly dark hair, a smile that comes from her heart and takes over her face when it comes. She said, "I've decided on what one of my chores can be. I will chop up all your vegetables." Unasked for, unexpected. So the tears blur her profile and I nod. She wrinkles her nose, shakes her head and goes back to her TV show.
I know I'm going to get through this...

Friday, September 10, 2010

The New Normal...

...is not something I like. People have described me recently as:
Tired looking

Yes, I am pale, tired and irritated. I don't like it. But I'm getting used to it. Hopefully others will get used to it and stop reminding me that I am those things. They are my new normal. I have to remember that it's just a temporary normal, but it is normal.

On another note, I've been amazed at how people, most generally my patients at work, seem to feel that they all deserve to know why I have this whopper of a scar down my chest. I actually had this conversation recently with a patient. I was trying to explain an eye test that I was going to do.
ME: "Ok, we're going to be doing an OCT today..."
PATIENT: (interrupting) "You had open heart surgery, didn't you?"
ME: "No. You'll put your chin on the chinrest..."
PATIENT: (interrupting, again) "Then why do you have that scar??"
ME: (pregnant pause, hard stare at patient) "You won't feel anything, you'll just see some lights occasionally..."
PATIENT: "I suppose it was rude of me to ask you that. But I have a medical book at home, and I like to look things up, so I really want to know why you have that scar!"
ME: "Excuse me just a minute..."
Enter different technician...

Honestly! But I guess that's all part of the new normal. Sigh...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Too Tired to Think...

Today I came home from work at noon. I worked about 4 hours and was exhausted. When I got home, I needed to help Lizzie with school. We're working on a new home school online curriculum, and we haven't figured out the ins and outs yet. We worked on school till 5:30. My patience was a little short to start with, and got shorter as the day progressed. Did the day actually progress? I'm not sure.

Anyway, we never did figure out the glitch that we keep slamming up against. So when Jeff got home, he dove right in, working as he ate his corn on the cob and beans, with butter and salt and...sorry. I'm easily distracted. He worked on it till about 8:30. Didn't figure out the glitch either. That made me feel a little better, since all this time I've been sure it's just because my brain is so hormonally deprived that I've turned into an idiot, and everyone knows it but me.

I finally got to take the bath that I'd been wanting to soak in since about 2:30 this afternoon. My legs are killing me - apparently another hypothyroid blessing. I soaked, and as I soaked, Lizzie came in several times for this and that. One of the thisses was asking me to tie a knot in beading string. While I was soaking wet. And of course being supermom, I tried. I finally had to beg for mercy till I was dry.

And now everyone is nestled in their beds, and I'm typing. Because although my body is screaming with exhaustion, my mind is now wide awake. I've already shed tears - I didn't outright weep, but tears came out. I don't even know why exactly, but they did. I'm going to get into bed now, and I'm not setting my alarm. Because like I told Lizzie, who currently has a cold, sometimes you just need to sleep till you wake up on your own. Her body needs rest to fight her cold. My body needs rest. That's my plan. Hopefully I'll cooperate with myself.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back in the Saddle...

..but the horse keeps throwin' me off! Went back to work this morning, two weeks after my second surgery. It was nice to be back, but my energy level just can't seem to keep up with my desire. Sooooo....worked till noon and then came home and slept for a few hours. I've never been a napper, and hate that I am now. I like to go and go and go till evening. But now as the old saying goes, my "get-up-and-go has gotten-up-and-gone"! Hope it comes back soon!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A new blog...

I've blogged before. I like to blog. My sister challenged my to blog about my thyroid cancer, so here I go.

I started having weird throat symptoms in April of this year. Let 'em go for a while, but they wouldn't go, so I got checked. Blood work normal - I thought, "good," but they didn't agree. I got the results of my ultrasound while I was at a minor league baseball game with Lizzie's class. Over the roar of the crowd, I listened to words like "large mass" and "cancer" talked about the way you'd talk about "groceries" and "laundry". I was numb.

Fast forward to the ENT visit. I listened as he explained that there was a 50/50 chance that I'd have to have my chest cracked open to remove my thyroid. Now, I'm not a doctor, and I don't play one on T.V., but I know that the thyroid is supposed to be in the neck region. Apparently mine was traveling south even though it wasn't winter. But he was certain that whatever was going on, it wasn't cancer. I liked him better than the Cancer Phonecall Person.

June 1, surgery. I woke up with the typical thyroid wound in front of my neck. And 39 staples down the middle of my chest. Like open-heart surgery without the heart surgery. That hurt. But except for some post-op breathing trouble, I was up and around, and ready to go home on June 7. Feeling like I'd dodged a bullet. Till the gunman showed up on the 6th telling me that I had thyroid cancer. "Papillary carcinoma." I listened to all the details, and his reassurance that "if you have to get cancer, this is the one to get." I didn't remember being told that I had to get cancer in the first place.

Blood tests, recuperation and an MRI later, the decision to remove the last bit of thyroid tissue was made, and on Aug. 24 I had the second surgery. A paper cut compared to the first one, since it was only through the neck wound. Recovery was easy, and my voice seems like it will be pretty normal eventually. (For those who don't know, I was a voice major in college, so I kinda like to sing a little.) I haven't tried that yet, because I'm afraid of what I might sound like.

Now I'm waiting. Waiting to see the oncologist again, for the radioactive iodine (RAI) scan, and then the RAI treatment and week of isolation. Because I'll be radioactive. Like a nuclear weapon. I'm also waiting for the exciting symptoms of hypothyroidism, which make everything thus far sound like a cake walk. While I wait, I'm on a low-iodine diet. Essentially jelly beans and beer for the next month. I'll be fat and diabetic, but so drunk I won't care!

This whole thing has been...weird. And it has made me feel very week and dependent. Dependent on Jeff and Lizzie, who have been wonderful. They've done things for me that I would have preferred to do myself, and I'm grateful to them for that. On my sister, who's been funny and concerned and there whenever I need to talk. And on friends and my church family who have brought meals, taken me places when I couldn't drive, and provided prayer and encouragement every day since April. I don't know awful how the past few months would have been without them, and I'm grateful I won't have to find out.

In the New Testament, James wrote that "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights..." I know that every person that has been involved in this with me has been a gift to me from God. I know that God even brought this cancer into my life for His purpose. I once read somewhere that if it never rained, we'd never see rainbows. Without the bad, God has no opportunity to show His love and care for His people. Paul wrote about his "thorn in the flesh", that God wouldn't remove because God's "grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in weakness." And so Paul responded that he would "boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." I'm thankful that God has brought this situation in my life, because it's allowed me to be weak and He has shown Himself strong.

I've joked about "glowing in the dark" after my RAI treatment, mostly because if I don't joke about it, it just freaks me out. But I've been thinking about that phrase in the "light" of what Paul says in Philippians, and I realized that I want to glow in the dark; I want to "shine as lights in the world" in the darkness of cancer, of fear and uncertainty. I want everyone who's watching be able to see the Light and Strength of Christ.

My sister also challenged me to get a tattoo when my RAI is done. I'm not so sure about that one!