Thursday, May 31, 2007

Time to Accessorize

Last week I dropped off my wedding and engagement ring at the local jewelers. A diamond had fallen out of my wedding band and I wanted to get it replace with a ruby. John had the great idea to do that in honor of my grandmother, (her name was Ruby), who passed away this year. I also took my engagement ring in because the last time I had it resized the place used gold to sodden it together vs. platinum! I knew it was discolored, but I had no idea why. I was so mad. I took it to that place because they were $5 cheaper than the place I was leaving them at. Lesson learned!

They also buffered and polished the rings, and I have to say that they look brand new!! I feel like I just got married! (JK) It is really amazing. I must recommend to all of you to get your rings cleaned and polished ASAP! It is totally worth it. I think it’s probably been over 2 years since I had it done. I’m going to try to have John get me that each year for my birthday. I had to take a photo of them so I will remember how they are supposed to look like. I’m going to try to record how long they last like this as well.

Here’s an updated photo of my scar as well:

See how the right side is more swollen and red? Kind of underneath the incision? Well it’s also very sensitive to touch. I showed my scar to one of my co-workers who used to be a nurse. She thinks that one of the internal stitches may not have dissolved, and is trying to make its way to the surface. Although I’m wondering if it will just dissolve? She said if I have a fever, if the scar is oozing fluid or if the area becomes more red, then it is probably an infection. That is what I first thought it was. I’m glad that I don’t have those symptoms. I plan on watching it for the next few days and hopefully it will get better. I am thinking of emailing this photo to my dr. though. Just in case he can give me a quick diagnosis.

Before my surgery, John ordered some thyroid cancer awareness bracelets for me. (Like the yellow Livestrong bracelets). I’ve given a few out, but if you’d like one, let me know and I will send it to you. I don’t want to hand them out and have people think that I expect to wear them when they don’t want to. It’s kind of awkward. So I thought I’d give you the choice. Let me know!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Just Like on LOST!

I had my consultation yesterday with the Dr. who will be giving me the radiation pill. (I don’t even know what kind of dr. he is! I know I’m bad.) He wasn’t too impressive. Not like the Dr. who operated on me. He went through a list of questions that had to be answered for the government. Since overnight stays in hospitals are very expensive, the government now allows patients to go home assuming they can quarantine themselves.

He really didn’t seem that worried about side affects or infertility. He said there hadn’t been any studies done on infertility, which is probably a good sign. (Meaning that there hasn’t been concern to do a study). I think I’m supposed to wait a year to have a kid… IF I WANT TO HAVE ONE. So to all of you that HARASS me about it, it will do NO GOOD to harass me for the next YEAR. I have an even better idea! Why not stop the harassment all together? (Yes I’m talking to you parents).

It looks like I will get the treatment done in the beginning of July, or possibly the last week in June. As long as it’s after Katy’s wedding it will be good.

Most of the info I read online was the same as what he told me, but here are the basics:

  • I have to take ANOTHER week off work! Can you believe that one? I am really going to have no PTO left. I’m praying I’ll have 4 days in October for Belize.
  • For the first 3 days I need to be quarantined. (Just like on LOST! How exciting!) I can’t leave the house and I shouldn’t have anyone around me. Well for the entire week I need to stay 6 ft away from all people. I really need to stay away from kids, pets, and pregnant women. However if Odie next door really starts driving me crazy by his incessant barking I might go and stand near the back fence and feed him some meat. I think it might be a bit like prison in the sense the John will probably have to leave my meals at my door and then bang on the door and yell ‘Time to eat!’
  • I will also have to go on a low iodine diet 2 weeks before and probably after the treatment as well. So no sushi, seafood, salt, and minimal baked goods.
  • Urine, saliva, and sweat are the three main ways to pass on the radiation. So it looks like I won’t be able to work out for a week. Don’t get me wrong… I do enjoy the time when I can be lazy, however getting back into the workout routine is so hard! Ever since my surgery is has been so difficult for me to get back into it.
  • The Dr. said I could use electrical equipment, so at least I will be able to be on the computer! I’m hoping to finally archive my photos and upload my latest ones to ofoto.
  • After the first week I will get a body scan to see how much radiation is left in my body. It should be low enough for me to return to work. The government also recommends staying quarantined for 14 days, so when I go back to work, I’ll most likely have to keep my distance from everyone.

I think the first three days will definitely be weird, but as long as it’s not another surgery/recovery, I’m game for anything! Bring it on!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Was that really a 4 day weekend?

I'm totally wiped out from this weekend, and due to the fact that I am headed to bed at 9pm that means I don't have enough time to write up a legitimate recap. However I thought I would post some photos to tide you over.

We had a great visit with The Steinbucks. We didn't do too much, but when you are watching a 2 year old I say that is enough! Sydney is a total cutie, and I think she's a pretty well behaved 2 year old. However I have no one to compare it too. Guess I'll have to wait until the twins turn 2!

Here is Syd relaxing in our mini pool. John bought that for me last summer when we had a couple of days in the 90s. (Too lazy to look for that photo).

The dudes work really hard this weekend. The major project was replacing part of our fence.
I like this photo because it shows the new fence and our awesome old fence. I also enjoy it because Adam is hard at work and John is bustin' a move. He started to moon walk right after this photo was taken... hence him rockin' the MJ look w/ the one glove.

After the fence they worked on replacing our 80's ghetto exterior lights. More photos to come...but here is an action shot:

Last but not least here is a photo of the three ladies. I wasn't going to post this photo until I saw what was in the background! That is our neighbor who tried to convert their garage! I know it's not as exciting as seeing the french doors, but it will have to do.

More stories and photos to come, but you may have to wait until Wed. I have my book club meeting tomorrow night, and my consultation with the radiation doctor. Depending on how interesting the appointment is I may blog about that first. Hope you all had a great weekend!

**Note: My friend Sam has just started her own blog. I put her link in my links section. I'm very excited as I'm sure she will update more frequently than Steph and Brett. (No offence peeps!)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Not in Our Neighborhood!

About a year ago a house down the street was for sale. It looked really nice inside (viewed photos online) and everything seemed to have been really well kept. We were really hoping a nice family would move in, but what do you know… it was a bunch of frat dudes! Suck-o-rama!

Ok, so they really weren’t that bad of neighbors. They had about a party a quarter and would occasionally try to get run over by my car when playing catch in the street/yard.

A few weeks ago John started to notice that they lawn REALLY needed to be mowed. So much that every time John would drive by he would yell “Mow that lawn you lazy scumbags!” Ok not really, but his blood pressure would definitely rise.

I noticed that it didn’t seem like anyone was living there, but that seemed odd, because it was in the middle of a school quarter, not during a break. I tried to tell John there had to be a reason because they would normally mow it once a month.

Then one day a worker truck and huge trailer showed up… and then a large dumpster. I was totally mystified at what kind of construction work they would be doing, as I had remembered the house looked so nice. They obviously gutted something inside but we could not tell what it was. I had a real hard time spying because they parked the big trailer right in front of the garage. You’d think they would have been more considerate!

So a week or two pass by, and it’s the same ‘ole same ‘ole. Then one day after my surgery I was looking out the window waiting for John to come home (cut me some slack, I was lonely), and I saw what looked like a new window in the garage. I couldn’t really see it (because of that trailer), but I thought that maybe they had replaced the side garage window. Was I ever wrong!!!! They had replaced the garage door w/ two LARGE French doors! Can you believe it? It looked really bad. John came home and said that he did not think San Luis allowed garage conversions like that and he wanted to call the city. I told him to call them and find out!

The whole reason the family moved out of our house in the first place was because of a failed garage conversion. When we moved in the neighbor across the street told us how he called the city and put the kabosh on their attempt. According to John garage conversions are for places like Santa Maria.

So the next day he calls city (yes, he's a total bus narc. You know, that annoying kid on the school bus who always tells the driver what you're doing in the back), and the inspector told him that he had already received “many complaints” about them converting their garage. He also said that based on other calls they have already sent an inspector out to the home today. I ask if the city ever approves garage conversions and he said never!

So what do you know??? When I drove by the house that day after work the garage door was magically back in place!! That same day! I was just mad I didn’t take a photo of the French doors when I had a chance.

The next day there was a huge stack of lumber in front of the garage. We are now wondering if they are going to add on, or just enclose the garage but keep the garage door intact. The Fratties used the garage as a pool room/gym anyway, so we will see if it continues to be the party room, or if we will ever see the door open again!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Florist I'm Not

Here's the latest photo of my scar. Looks pretty good doesn't it? I saw some really horrible scars when I googled "Thyroid scar." Our weekend was pretty mellow, as I was attempting to take it easy. We have guests next weekend, so I had to clean some.

John spent quite a bit of time working on our new fence. He needed my assistance in measuring every 5-10 mins, so I lounged outside and read my new book club book The Handmaids Tale. I'm pretty happy of where my scar is, placement wise. For the most part I didn't have to try too hard to keep it in the shade. I was even able to get a bit of a sun burn! So much for never having a tan! Let's just hope I can have a good color transition on my neck.

Most of my flowers I received from my surgery have died. I'm so sad. I really liked feeling like I was living in a florist. I've tried to keep the last few and have created my own arrangement, but it looks pretty hokey. Thanks again to all that sent them. (Your thank you cards will be coming soon).

I know this entry isn't too eventful, but I wanted to give those of you at work on Monday something to read. I do hope to write my surgery experience post soon, as I really want to share some of the photos. Are you getting board of all Thyroid entries? Well I don't think there should be too many...but nothing else is really going on...well I do have one funny story about our neighbor. That will have to come later in the week! Hope you all had great weekends!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Follow Up Appointment

Yesterday was my first day back at work. Even though I didn't want to go, it was good that I went. Well...I think I could have used one more day of recovery, but I felt pretty good by the afternoon. The morning was the hardest, but that could have been because I did not get 12 hours of sleep the night before! Today was even better and I am officially off the Vicodin! Yeah! It really wasn't that hard to ween myself off of it once it caused me to be constipated!! Talk about pain!!!! Let me tell you I would much rather deal with neck pain than butt pain. I can totally see how someone might pass out on the toilet. How miserable!

As I was saying... going back to work was good to at least help me get back into my normal routine...even if it was work.

I also had my post-opp appointment yesterday. The dr. removed the bandages and the stitch... and I am sad to say that I did almost pass out! Removing the bandages didn't hurt half as bad as I thought, (they were really stuck on there), but once he pulled out the long stitch I started to get a bit woozy. John asked me if I was ok, as I'm sure he could tell from the look on my face that I was not. I said 'yeah' trying to not be a wimp-o in front of the doc, but it didn't matter! He reclined the seat for me and took my pulse, and seemed quite excited to say that indeed I was a wimp-o and diagnosed me as about to pass out. Ok, he didn't say that, but he did say something totally medical that I didn't understand.

After a few minutes I was good to go and we went on to discuss the follow up treatment. He said that the hole the cancer had breached through was only 1mm (1/25 of an inch). Not that big, but he still strongly recommended I get the Radioactive Iodine treatment in about 6-12 weeks, (once I'm healed from the surgery).

He said to prepare to for the treatment I had two options:

1 - stop taking my thyroid meds for 3 weeks. This would cause my entire body to slow down... heart rate, energy, blood pressure, brain power, metabolism, etc.

That did NOT sound good to me.

2 - take a series of three shots of Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).

Granted I'm not a fan of shots, but that will be the route I will take. (As long as insurance covers it). Here is a mini summary, (written by John in helping me understand it), of why I need to take the TSHs shots:

The TSH makes the thyroid cells more active. The more TSH the harder those thyroid cells try to find iodine to convert it into the thyroid hormone. So, they’ll give me excess TSH in a shot, which will stimulate the cells to find all the iodine in the body. Those cells will be hungry, so when you take the radioactive iodine pills the remaining thyroid cells(cancerous or not) will go after that new source of iodine and thereby kill themselves.

After the treatment I will get more blood tests and if there are still signs of the cancer in my body I will have to get the treatment 8 months later. I'm supposed to have a consultation with the guy in charge of he radiation pills to go over the details. My dr. said that there will be a higher chance that I could develop other types of cancer when I get older, and there will also be possible fertility side affects. I found some good info at this link too.

It seems pretty intense. Well for 5 days after I'm not supposed to be around any children or pregnant women (sorry Steph). I'm also not supposed to be in a car with someone for longer than an hour. The worst is that I am to have no real contact w/ John... like we can't even sleep in the same bed! Ok, well that is the info I read on line, so some of it may not be accurate, but WebMD has yet to let me down.

On the emotional side of things, it didn't really get better after seeing the doc yesterday, although it was good to hear that I'm healing well, and that the scar is pretty small. However I have tried to have a more positive outlook on things today and so far no tears!! Hopefully this will be the trick. I do know that things could be a lot worse. I just need to keep repeating that to myself.

I can also tell that my body is out of whack… with taking pain meds, and then the new thyroid meds I'm sure it doesn't know what is going on. Like my face and even my scalp seem to be drying out...but is that due to the thyroid meds? Or just my body getting used to frequent showers? I know things are getting better, I'm just waiting for them to get back to normal.

So here are two photos for you. The first one is w/ the bandages and the second one is w/out.

The bruise on the right side is from an anesthetic shot the dr. gave me before the surgery (not when I was conscience). He said he must have hit a vein to cause the bruise. It's funny because this whole time I thought the bruise was cased from the incision! I've also removed most of the fuzz goo from the bandages too. The skin is really sensitive since it's been covered for the last week. (That is why it's so red). This photo was taken yesterday, and I think it already looks better today.

I'm pretty happy with the size of the incision too. I think if I stay out of the sun it should heal up to the color of my skin. Well let's hope!

More photos to come

Sorry if there are any type-os... no time to spell check I need to watch The Office!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mini Emotional Update

Sorry for the lack of posts. I really thought I would be gung-ho after my surgery and be posting like a stay at home wife! Well that wasn't really the case. I was actually able to enjoy these last two days to some extent, but the reality of having cancer set in and I wasn't really in the mood to do anything.

I'm down to a half of a vicodin and a Tylenol every four hours, and I realized that w/ the reduction of the pain meds has probably caused my emotions come to the surface. I had the 'why me' breakdown this morning. It kind of took me by surprise, but I now realize how traumatic this whole experience has been/is. I do know that I will be fine, but after hearing that the tumor was larger than the Dr. had expected, and that the cancer had started to breech the thyroid into the rest of my body has made me extremely unsettled. I have my post-opp appointment tomorrow to find out what the next steps will be. The Dr. did say that I will for sure have to have the radiation therapy (pills) in a few weeks. I think I will feel better once I hear what the chances are of me having another surgery. I'm thinking they might have to remove my lymph-nods? I really have no idea, but I do NOT want to have another surgery. I couldn't imagine if he only had removed half of my thyroid and then I had to go back and have this same surgery in a few weeks to get the other half!

Granted this was my first surgery, but I had no idea how debilitating it would be and how much it's affected the everyday things in my life. If I have to have another surgery some day would it be less traumatic? I can't imagine going through a surgery w/ a longer recovery time. I've only had 2 real semi normal days, and already I'm tried of not being 100%.

I do go back to work tomorrow. I definitely don't want to go back, although I'm sure it will be good for me. I'm a little scared of how my neck will feel w/o having a head rest for a long period of time. I'm thinking I may have to move one of the larger conference room chairs to my desk, so we will see.

I'm hoping that I will feel better tomorrow after I see my doctor. Hopefully that will be the does of good news that I will need. I know I could be a lot worse off having a more serious case of cancer and having to go to through kemo and lose my hair. I couldn't imagine dealing with that.

I do have some good photos to share w/ you, as John mentioned in the previous post... along w/ a few interesting stories from my visit at the hospital. I'm hoping later on this week I will feel up to writing about them.

Thanks again for all of your prayers and well wishes. They have meant so much to me and I know are helping in my recovery.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Amber Alert

Ok, to be fair this is not about a missing kid. If her name was Red we wouldn't be having this confusion. Here is what you need to know as of 2:30 on Wednesday.

Amber is doing great. We went to the hospital at 8:30 yesterday morning and got her checked in. Apparently when she has only a skimpy robe on she gets quite flirty and charmed all nurses into doing her bidding. The actual surgery went down at around 10:30 and she made it into recovery by 1:00. I got to see her at about 2pm, which is lucky for the hospital as I had read everything in sight include a Nat'l Geographic Explorer from May 2003. That's right, 2003.

Turns out that they did confirm that the nodule was indeed cancer and opted to remove the whole thyroid and not just the naughty half. She'll be on Synthroid medication from here on out. The good news is that the surgery went very smoothly and she was in such good spirits she was requesting all sorts of photos. You'll see, I promise.

Her only complaint is a scratchy throat from the breathing tube they shoved into her. I keep trying to buy her ice cream but all she wants frozen yogurt because the Dr. tells her she can't workout for 2 weeks. I do not like frozen yogurt. Dilemma!

She was assigned to room 206 at which point we discovered that she would be having a roommate for the night. Her roomie was in for something and was a huge fan of Billy Ray Cyrus, who I gather was/is in jeopardy of losing on Dancing with the (C-) Stars. Amber also discovered that in addition to some fine coughing fits, her roomie also had the snoring skills of The Big Guy (Tom Grundman). For those who don't know, that is a true feat of sound.

I sprung her out of the hospital this morning at about 10:30. Calcium levels are excellent. Pain is a 4.5 out of 10 off drugs and a 2.5 on drugs. No swelling and no bleeding either. All she wants to do is sleep. Thanks for all the well wishes and flowers, She/we really appreciate everyone being so good to us.

Amber has been so tough through this whole process, though she tells me that she never wants to have another surgery again. To quote, " I don't want another surgery, not even a boob job."
I didn't even know that was on the list and now it's gone.

Monday, May 7, 2007

T-Minus 24 Hours

Well tomorrow is the big day! I keep trying to admire my neck sans-scar. It’s hard to imagine that it will never look this way again. I’m hoping I will scar well, but you never know. I really like my neck. I think it’s one of my best assets. If I REALLY don’t like the way the scar looks, I can always Photoshop it out of any photos.

I had to fill out of bunch of paper work for the hospital last week, but the worst was the law of attorney. (That sounds totally wrong). But I had to list a few peeps of who would make decisions for me in case something happened, AND I had to check a box next to ‘Do not resuscitate,’ or ‘Prolong Life.’ How morbid is that? I’m sure this is standard for everyone who has a surgery, but I did not expect that!

I also picked up my prescriptions. I got vicodin for the pain, and they gave me a whole bottle! I’ve never taken it before, so I hope it doesn’t make me sick or cease any unpleasant reactions. I also picked up my thyroid meds called synthroid. (John thinks the name sounds like a robot). The doctor suggested I not take generic as it will be easy to get me on the right dosage in the begging. Let me tell you that I hope I get to switch to a generic brand soon, because the pills cost $25! That’s almost $300 a month! Do you know what $300 could do for my wardrobe?

On a serious note… what if I didn’t have insurance or didn’t have the funds to buy the meds? These aren’t even meds I’m choosing to take. There should really be some program for peeps that HAVE to take meds and don’t want to pay for them. I know Molly can relate to this… it’s not her fault she has narcolepsy! I know I shouldn’t complain… her pills are way more expensive and she has to take them twice a day!

Oh well… maybe I can sell my left over vicodin on eBay to help pay for the synthroid.

**Note: I’ll try to have John update the blog tomorrow to let you all know how it went!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Over, Under, and through the Window

This weekend I learned how to knit! Can you believe it? I recently learned how to sew (entry coming soon), and now I can knit!

On Saturday Stephanie, Ellie and I went to a free beginning knitting class in Atascadero. Overall I thought it was pretty fun, but I am looking forward to being able to do the motion w/o having to think about it. It is also kind of tough because it's hard to tell what you did wrong when you mess up. I guess there is a separate class on how to fix your mistakes. Even though I could have used those tips in the first class, I'm not sure if I would have remembered everything. We learned the basic knitting stitch, the Pearl stitch and how to start it and end it. (I can't remember the correct terms.)

Here is Ellie in action:

Here is Steph in action:
Here is my first practice piece:

I would really like to make a scarf next, but the lady said I would need two things of yarn, and I"m not ready to buy more just yet. I want to make sure I can make it look good before I spend any more money. I am tempted to do more sewing though. It seems like sewing some pj pants can be a lot quicker then knitting a scarf. We will see!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

I'll Never be Tan!

Sorry for the delay in posts! This past weekend we went up north for a wedding and it was TONS of fun! It was so great to kick off my wedding season with such a great wedding. You will have to wait a tad for that post. I have about 550 photos to go through. Now I didn't take them all... Rebekkah totally helped out as well.

So yesterday I had my pre-opp appointment w/ my doctor, Dr. Malotte. I think it went really well, and I know so much more about what to expect.

As far as the surgery goes, they will first remove the right side of my thyroid and then while I'm still under they will send it to the lab where they will freeze it an slice it into thin strips and then check to see if it is cancer. (There is still about a 1 in 20 chance that it is not cancer.) If it is not, then they will sew me up. If it is, then they will remove the other half. If it is inconclusive, they will sew me up and then send the tumor off for further tests. If it comes back positive then I will have to go back under to get the other half removed. I know that stinks, but the Dr. said it's best not to remove half of the thyroid if it's good. He also said he thinks that it probably is cancer and that they he will most likely have to remove the entire thyroid. If they do remove the whole thing I will have to spend the night in the hospital so they can monitor my calcium levels. I was not expecting that I would have to stay the night. Do any of you know what I should bring? I was thinking my book, ipod, and clean undies. Will I have to sleep in the hospital gown? I forgot to ask that one. What about slippers? Should I bring those? I never thought I'd have to pack a bag if I wasn't having a baby!

The scar will be about 2-3 inches long on my neck. There will be many internal stitches that will dissolve, and one outer stitch. I guess it goes in one end, and holds the opening together under the skin, and then it comes out the other end. I'll have to get that removed at my post-opp appointment. I won't be able to get it wet for three days, so I will definitely be smelling ripe! Just Kidding. I'm sure I will shower, or maybe take a bath. Not sure what I will feel like.

The only bad news about the scar is that I cannot get it in direct sunlight for a whole YEAR! If I do I will put it at risk of turning the scar black! I was really shocked to hear this one. I mean I've got 5 weddings left to go to AND I'm in one! I cannot be pasty white! I guess it's seriously time to try to find a local place that does the spray on tans. I'm just glad that the scar will be on my neck. It would be much harder to shade if it were on my arm. At least if I'm working in the yard, or more importantly hammocking, I will be wearing some sort of hat. I also thought that Belize would be out for our vacation this year, but John said that I should be fine. Worse case scenario the Dr. told me that they can always remove the black scar and I'd just start over w/ a new scar. So at least there would be some hope... although I'm sure my insurance wouldn't cover that procedure!

The Dr. also told me about the risks. That wasn't the most pleasant thing to hear, but most of the probs happen less than 5% of the time or less than 1%. Under the thyroid are two tendons that are connected to your voice box. If one gets damaged I would have a windy voice, but if they are both damaged I would lose my ability to speak and would have to get a tracheotomy! Could you imagine? Well the doc said that's never happened to him before, but he did see a woman in Poland before who had that happen.

As far as radiation treatment goes, I'll have to take a two tests after the surgery to see if any of the cancer is still in my body. If it is, I won't need the radiation therapy that makes you loose your hair. He said I'll just have to take a radioactive pill that will kill the cells. So that won't be bad at all. He said he would talk more about that after the surgery.

I will be able to eat whatever I want after the surgery too, because the surgery is on the outer part of my throat. I was a tad disappointed as I wouldn't mind shedding a few pounds on a liquid diet.

I also asked to be put on the thyroid medication right after surgery. I don't want to risk being tired or gaining any unnecessary weight. He said he'd prescribe synthroid and I guess it takes about 6-8 weeks to get into my system. AFter that I'll probably have to have more blood tests to make sure the hormone levels are where they should be. He did tell me that in the 70's doctors prescribed the meds to some women with a stronger dose of the hormone so that they would have more energy and lose weight. That is what I totally wanted until he said that later they found that by doing that it caused osteoporosis. Dang!

He also said that I will need to wait two weeks until I do any physical activity, or anything that will increase my heart rate. So I will be able to go on walks, just not up any steep hills.

I did ask him if he or the nurse could take a photo of my thyroid after they remove it. He looked at me VERY strangely and said that he's never had a request for that...but if I show the nurse how to use my camera before the surgery he doesn't see why not! Sweet!!

So I think that's about all the info. Let me know if you have any questions! 5 more days until I go under!