Three Year Checkup

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I’m a little late with this (surprise, surprise!) but I had a three year check done on my thyroglobulin.

That measures the presence of living thyroid cells in the body, and is, therefore, a cancer marker test for me. If living cells were found, I’d have to undergo more tests and procedures to be sure there was no cancer present, and to make another attempt at ablating any living cells.

The sad part of all this, is that I had to actually request this simple blood test. The doc wanted to run all those yearly tests, plus my T3, T4 and TSH (thyroid hormone levels) but the thyroglobulin? Never occurred to him…

Be proactive, folks. I preach it like a southern revival meeting. If you don’t take care of business, nobody else will. Don’t assume your doctor will. Most won’t.

Anyway… my results?

My thyroglobulin reads out at <0.2. That is to say, undetectable. This is great news. My thyroid cells that remained in my body after my thyroidectomy have all apparently died. 

All my other tests came out normal as well. Even my cholesterol levels, despite my extra weight. Yay and go team me!

I feel fairly healthy, but after three years, I suppose there are some things that are as good as they are ever going to get. 

I still have a huge bulge in my neck. Not sure why, but it isn’t getting smaller as I’d hoped it would over time. It messes with my looks, but not much I can do about it.

My teeth seem to have stopped crumbling into pieces, (yes, they were literally doing that) but I still need expensive dental work that still isn’t going to get done anytime soon. Rant about Obamacare all you want, my beef is that health insurance won’t AND NEVER HAS covered dental care needed to preserve or restore health, despite the fact that it’s damn near common knowledge that if your teeth and gums are ailing, your overall health suffers, even to the point of diabetes and heart trouble. Go ahead – google it, if you didn’t already know. If it affects your health, why isn’t necessary work covered like any other health issue?

I still have trouble swallowing sometimes. 

I still can’t eat anything too spicy or tangy – and by that, I mean I can’t even eat ketchup but sparingly. My taste buds around the edge of my tongue are damaged and they go crazy. I can’t handle it.

My voice is still froggy a lot. I can’t sing most of the time. It’s a pain, but when you consider that my surgeon warned me that my vocal cords might be damaged enough I could lose my voice entirely when she was done taking out glandzilla, I am fortunate.

I am real fortunate.

Now if I could just win the lottery.

I could at least get my damn mouth fixed…

Fun With Radiation Part Three: The Putrid Pill

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Sorry for leaving this alone for so long, boys and girls. I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath for the next entry, much like I waited for each new installment of the Gunslinger series. No? What’s that? You’d forgotten I even had a blog?

Oh.

Well, anyway…

When I left off over two years ago, I’d told you about the icky shots I had to take in preparation for my I-131 treatment, now it’s time to tell you about that lovely experience.

I don’t know if Networked Blogs even exists anymore, let alone whether or not it will still automatically post this entry to Facebook. We’ll see. I’ll manually post if it doesn’t do it on its own. So here we go…

I’m a bit proactive where my health is concerned. I began that practice back in 2002 when my thyroid first began giving me trouble, and I was mis-diagnosed as having a neuromuscular disease. (I’ll explain all that in another post another time, but for the love of all that is holy, folks, please remember that DOCTORS ARE NOT GODS even though most of them think they are. Their word is not law and they don’t always know what they’re doing!) So, I began googling I-131 isotope and reading.

Nice. I’m about to take a huge dose of what probably caused my thyroid cancer to begin with. The. Exact. Same. Isotope. Gives a new meaning to the cure being worse than the disease. I couldn’t help but wonder: Okay… this is supposed to kill any remaining thyroid cells in my neck as a precaution.. but there’s no guarantees that it will kill off every living thyroid cell, and I’m wondering what this cancer causing-and-curing isotope coursing its way through my body is going to do to other parts of me?

I almost didn’t take it… but in the end, after much reassurance from my endo (who I never liked, he kept me on a “need to know” basis, and my theory is, if it has to do with MY BODY, then I need to know.) I relented and scheduled the appointment with the radiation oncologist.

Oh, never fear. I still had a lot of fun with it.

I was led into an isolation room with nurses on the other side of a huge glass window. I had another moment of pause as I glanced over to a table obviously meant for those with more serious conditions than mine, with the iron mask full of holes lying at the head. Once again, I have a solemn moment of wondering if this could be in my future. Once you get that diagnosis, it’s always in the back of your mind, forever: no guarantees.

It was only a moment, though.

Before I could pop off a smart remark to the nurses on the other side of the glass about being in a lineup and how I was being framed, the doc came in and asked me if I’d been to the bathroom yet.

Well.. no. Was I supposed to? Apparently, yes. So, I hopped back out of the chair and dutifully followed her down the hall to the bathroom, all the while muttering under my breath about how I was already potty trained, throwing the nurses into fits of laughter.

Good beginning!

Got back into the isolation room, and doc opens up a huge metal door on a huge metal cabinet and takes out a huge metal container. Solid lead, I’m told, and she hands it to me so I can see how heavy it is. Am I in a sci-fi movie? Feels like it.

I asked her if there was a red pill or a blue pill inside. She’s obviously not a Keanu Reeves fan. She doesn’t get it. A nurse snickers, and I wink at her. Even though doc doesn’t get it, she has a good sense of humor, and smiles.

matrix-red-pill

On my initial consultation visit, I was given a list of precautions I have to follow during the time I’m irradiated and for up to a year afterwards. Don’t share a bathroom with anyone for 7 days. Sleep alone. Wash my clothing, towels and bedding separately, etc. I can’t get pregnant for six months to a year. Oh, damn the luck. I so wanted a baby again at age 52.

I read the stuff before coming in, I know what to do, but they send in the “radiation safety officer” from the main hospital wing to read it all to me again, go over it, ask me if I have any questions… he’s a young guy, maybe mid-twenties.

Y’all know me by now, reading this, even if you don’t know me. You know the gears are turning, right?

He reads the part about abstaining from sex for two weeks and I interrupt him.

“Wait. Does this mean I can’t take you home with me after I swallow this pill and see what this “cougar” business is all about?”

Oh, it’s so worth it! He turns fifty shades of red (not grey) and the entire staff, doc included, completely loses it. LOL.

The poor kid finishes his spiel, can’t wait to get out of there, I’m sure, doc opens the container and hands me the pill. I pop it. I’m immediately ushered out the back door like a homewrecker fleeing the scene when the wife comes home early…

Then the real fun begins.

I’m pretty much a homebody at heart anyway, but you know how it is. Once you’re isolated and can’t go anywhere, suddenly you’re going stir crazy, wanting to go EVERYWHERE!

I can’t do anything but sit around working remotely on a laptop, at a job I despise anyway, and people watch from a distance through my patio doors as the rest of the world goes on about its business. I have a brief moment of self pity, which I hate, and I quickly brush it off. Oh, you poor thing. You can’t leave to confines of your apartment for a week. Boo hoo.

Not going to bore you with the details of that week since they are just the same thing over and over again for 7 days… just note that the pill did indeed make me feel a little queasy, but nothing to get into a twist about. It could have been a lot worse, and I know it. I was lucky.

Maybe next time I’ll tell you about my theories concerning how I ended up with thyroid problems to begin with, and what led up to my diagnosis of hyperthyroidism and the ensuing years of fun and games leading up to my cancer diagnosis.

I’m not making any promises about when “next time” will be.