Focusing On The Positives

Went to my follow-up appointment yesterday with the endocrinologist after my full body scan. I dunno, I guess it was mostly good news, but it wasn’t the “all clear” that of course anyone would prefer to hear. πŸ˜• But honestly, the chances of a doctor saying something like that are probably pretty slim anyway – since the last thing they probably wanna seem like they’re doing is handing out “guarantees” when it comes to something with such serious potential consequences.

The Negative: The scan did show a few tiny areas that lit up, meaning there’s some remaining thyroid cells there – as they had absorbed the iodine radiation and blew their cover during the scan. πŸ”¬πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš•οΈΒ Also, there’s no way to determine if those thyroid cells have cancerous cells in them as well… it just confirms that thyroid cells are there, and that we’ll need to periodically keep an eye on them. πŸ˜’

The Positive: The tiny bits that lit up were where they should be, where my thyroid used to be, meaning that none of those cells had migrated to any other locations where they could cause different kinds of trouble. The radiation that made those cells visible to the scan also serves to continue killing and shrinking those cells, so even over the next month or so they should continue to decrease in their already small size.

You can think of the surgery in the same way as someone trying to carve a hunk of fat off the edge of a steak before grilling it. Someone like me, I’d want to get as much of that fat cut off as possible – but at the same time you don’t wanna accidentally cut away good, non-fat, steak meat. 😏 Same thing with my surgery. The surgeon tries to cut away all of the thyroid, but not at the expense of accidentally cutting away non-thyroid meat. 😳 I guess it’s not terribly uncommon for tiny bits to be left behind because of that logic.

It won’t be for quite a while, but next year I’ll have to have an ultrasound of that area, to see if those cells appear to have grown. And since thyroids don’t grow back, I’ll assume that would be a bad thing. So at least the next “next step” isn’t stopping my meds and getting dosed with radiation again. ☒️🀒☒️ That tells me that while there is reason for concern and monitoring, it’s not of the “oh shit” variety where one of the most extreme measures is the first measure taken.

So, like I said, I guess overall it was a good result. I mean, there’s plenty of ways where it obviously could have been worse, but it’s still shitty that my first radiation didn’t kill offΒ all of the thyroid cells – because there’s no way that this won’t be something that floats around in my thoughts more than I’d like it to. πŸ˜’ I guess all my other recent lab numbers are good though, and I still feel like I’m gaining back more energy with each day that passes, so there’s that as well. I just wish that was the only thing that was going on with my neck.

So, yeah… πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

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Creeping Toward The Finish Line

I figured I better get on here and make an entry while I’ve got the juice to do so. I know I said I wouldn’t bitch after doing that weed spraying outside the other night, and I’m not doing this to bitch – just to update… 😏 but cripes, that little bit of work messed me up somethin’ fierce. πŸ˜“

Overheated, energy sucked away, yet even with my full compliment of evening meds I laid awake all night, until about 9am the next morning. πŸ˜’ I got a couple hours sleep at that point, but still feeling exhausted I actually took that day’s evening meds and went to bed at 7pm. πŸ™πŸ»πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Had to be at the hospital for labs the next day, so I didn’t want to take any chances that it would be another sleepless night.

The whole night followed the routine of falling asleep for a couple hours, then waking up for one… lather, rinse, repeat. By the time I was actually able to wake up enough to get my day going the next day, I had spent a total of 15 hours in bed 😳 yet woke up feeling more drained than when I originally went to bed the night before. It’s amazing how screwed up my body has become, from just missing that teeny tiny single thyroid function replacement pill each day, and obviously I haven’t hit the bottom yet.

But I made it to the hospital, got my blood drawn and labs started, and on the way out I actually ran into a friend in one of the hallways. She was on her way to see one of her family members, but I was so out of it I barely even realized when she waved as I passed her. She looked like she wanted to be there about as much as I did, and the way I almost just walked past her, I had to comment that we were like “The Walking Dead” just lumbering past each other. πŸ§Ÿβ€β™‚οΈπŸ˜ Not in any sense of the seriousness of why I was there, but more that I was just oblivious and drained and grumbling to myself in my head, to where I passed literally two feet from one of my friends and almost didn’t even notice.

But the past 48 hours have made me toss away (for now, anyway) that urge that I always have… that I need to do something useful or productive each day, no matter how shitty I feel. Yeah, F that. I gotta be realistic, because with this shit there is no “mind over matter” that will allow me to pull energy from some mysterious reserve. πŸ˜• It’s really okay though – because now that it has proven itself to me, that there is no fighting against it or whatever… that’s just how it’s gonna be until I can get back on the thyroid meds. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ It’s still indescribably awful… but like I keep reminding myself… it’s temporary.

But just so people aren’t concerned, I am still able to drive, so if there’s an emergency or I need to get food or whatever – Lancaster has plenty of drive-thru joints that I can go to without leaving the car… and if I really need anything beyond that I can always hit up Toni, or Genesee – who has reminded me that she’s still got plenty of people around here that would be willing to help out if needed. I mean, it won’t come to any of that (at least I don’t think it will) because as long as my labs come back the way they want – I’ll get the radiation dose next week and will only have to make it through that following Thursday.

Heh… how lame. πŸ™„ Sitting here, happy that I had enough mental/physical oomph to write this. πŸ˜πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Checking Off Boxes

Typical “workers comp, beginning of the month, get my scripts filled” day today. Three different calls to the pharmacy, issues with my information in the computer, problems with certain ones not being approved… same bullshit as usual, except due to the incorrect information in their system I even had to stop in myself, with receipts and printouts and crap from last month. The folks that work there are great. It’s never the people there that I have a problem with… and after my visit we think everything is now updated, correct, and in process of being authorized – so maybe sometime today I’ll actually be able to pick them up.

I had to be out today anyway, so stopping in to get all this stuff sorted out wasn’t a big deal. I mean, I actually feel kinda bad for them – with how much of a pain in the ass “my case” is for them each month. It makes me wonder if any pharmacies have ever decided that certain customers’ situations were just too much work, too many calls, and too big of a PITA – and just told them to take their business elsewhere. ‘Cuz I can see how they could feel that way about me, if they weren’t such understanding and helpful folks.

But at my other stops, along with having several vials of blood drawn, we’ve started getting a lot more things set in stone. I’ve now got dates (if not exact times, yet) for the next blood draw, the administration of the radiation dose, how long I’ll need to stay away from people (which included rearranging another unrelated doctor appointment), when the full scan at FMC will be, and then the followup with my main thyroid doctor after all of the results are back and interpreted.

It’s surreal… how this is such a “big deal mind fuck” thing for me as I’m going through it, yet I’m just one of many. There are enough people needing this kind of treatment that once a week, every week, it’s radioactive “dosing day” for thyroid patients at FMC. But for whatever reason, even as you’re out in town, seeing other people doing whatever… it’s easy to feel like you’re the only person going through this shit, while actually we probably pass by people each day who are going through the same thing or worse. Working in nuclear medicine, giving the doses… I can see how that job could start feeling pretty heavy after a short while.

The Other Stuff

TRIGGER WARNING: This entry is gonna cover some of the other depressing shit that has also been filling my thoughts and influencing my mood recently. But I think it’ll help to explain why when it did hit me, about Mom being gone gone… why it was so easy for it to knock me down and keep me there.

About a year ago my best friend Jim lost his mom to cancer. At the end of last year, Brianna, another of my closest friends, lost her mom to cancer. And Christina was more than just “Bri’s mom” to me… she treated me like family. Rick, a classmate of mine, has been fighting cancer for two years now, and rarely posts to Facebook anymore, which seems like a bad sign. Then on the first of this month, anotherΒ school friend, Stephanie, died in her sleep from unknown and absolutely unexpected causes. Her oldest son turned 18 just two days later. And then today, my “cousin-in-law” Gloria lost her sister Wanda to cancer as well.

Jim’s mom was in her early 70s, but Christina was only in her early 40s, Rick is my age, Stephanie was only two years older than me, and I think Wanda may have been barely into her 50s. And Mom’s best friend through the entirety of her adulthood, Cecil… she passed away within the year as well. I’m actually sitting here afraid that I’ve neglected to mention someone, because it seems like every direction that I turn – sickness and death is what I see, and in many cases – in people far, far too young for most to even think it’s a possibility.

(Oof… this is gonna be a downer of an entry, that’s for sure…)

And of course, having cancer myself… or at least having had cancer (fingers crossed)… all of the stuff mentioned above doesn’t exactly do a lot to put my mind at ease. A long life before passing… that is something that hurts, but we understand it. People dying at my age or younger, from things like lung cancer when they were very vocal non-smokers… those are the ones where it starts to make less sense. And then ones like Stephanie that are there one day, making posts about her dog and her son’s upcoming birthday, then *poof* … simply gone the next. No rhyme or reason, and I’m not good when it comes to shit like that.

But for my stuff, I did get another appointment with my family doctor at the beginning of this week, tried to sum up all of the things I’ve been talking about here, and told her that I’m not really comfortable with what (to me) feels like a lack of concern or urgency once my thyroid removal and radiation treatment was completed. I’m not being neglected or anything… but after the surgery, radiation, and scan – other than the thyroid guy getting my levels right via medication, nothing else has happened or was scheduled to happen until July. I realized that I’m not okay with that. “You have cancer. We cut the cancer thing out. We think we got all the cancer. See you in half-a-year.”Β Christina also got the “we think we got it all” speech after her first surgery as well (I was there) so… umm… no. Not good enough.

It would be another thing if I honestly just felt great, and all these other things were just spooking me, but that’s not the case. Without going into details, there are things that just feel “wrong” for lack of a better term, and since I’ve gone with the “flashy” insurance this year I would be dumb to not metaphorically pound my fist on the table and ask for a little more. So that’s where I’m at now… the start of “a little more” phase. Tomorrow I’m seeing someone regarding my come-and-go, sometimes excruciatingly painful back problem… and, thankfully, with the lab being in the same building, my primary care provider has ordered an assload of blood and urine tests to not only hit on the regular “physical” type stuff, but cancer indicators as well… so I’ll do those right after the back guy.

So yeah… I’ll admit that with all of this stuff on my mind, I’ve essentially disappeared as far as my friends would describe it. At least in person, I mean. One, it’s hard to want to go out and do anything fun or visit with anyone when my brain is so full of this shit… and two, more than half of the time I just physically feel too crappy to even consider it. Now that it’s going to be looked into with a little more detail, I’m hoping that with good or at least encouraging results I’ll be more likely to spend at least a few days trying to act like everything is fine, and hopefully trying to start living my life again.

I’ve been out to see Dad a few times in the past month and a half, but when it’s hard to make myself get up and do anything even on good days – I know that I’ve not been visiting as much as I should or as much as I want. It’s hard to explain “I just can’t.” to someone, when it’s hard for you to even understand yourself. I can’t remember the last time I’ve opened my e-mail app, but I’m gonna try to at least start doing that again. My biggest problem is that I’m not exactly some cheery ray of sunshine right now, and I’ll probably struggle to come up with e-mails to Dad that are any less depressing than this particular blog entry. I guess that’ll force me to really think about each day, or couple of days, to find the little good (or at least “okay”) moments that I’m sure are there. But yeah, that’s the plan for now…

(And I’ll try to limit the depressing topics here in the blog for a while after today’s posts. Wish me luck.)

Pass The Baton / Kick The Can

I didn’t do my bills last night, but I’m doing them now. πŸ˜’ They’re enough of a pain in the ass that I think I deserve an intermission, so I figured I’d jump over here and drop a few paragraphs. I knocked out the easy ones… gas, electric, internet, etc… but all of the fun medical related ones are starting to come in, and I want to pay closer attention as they nickel and dime me. 🀨 Mostly just to make sure that they don’t nickel and dime me over the same test, scan, procedure, or person twice.

My appointment today? Well, I guess it was okay. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ He said that the pathology reports on the tissue removed during my surgery was exactly what the pre-surgery biopsy had suggested, and that it’s the most common and most treatable type of thyroid cancer. 😐 Bleh… I don’t like using that word, so don’t expect to see it get used much here. 😷 So, it was a good follow-up, with the labs at least not coming back with something scarier than already thought. And I really pushed him for his true opinion. I told him not to bullshit me, and asked him if he had any “gasp” moments during the surgery.

Like I told him, before I was able to get workers comp to pay for my C5-C7 fusion surgery, I had to get an MRI done – with several doctors and medical assistant folks looking at the results, which showed some pretty severe damage. 🧐 And each one that didΒ look at it… it gave them a “gasp” moment. 😧

Where even a trained medical professional was like Wow. 😳 or Damn. 😯 or Holy shit. 😱

I explained how that helped me in thatΒ previousΒ situation, as it got everything approved and moving much more quickly… but that a “gasp” moment now isn’t something that I was hoping for, but that I still wanted him to tell me if it happened to him while he was digging around inside my neck. 😐 His reply seemed genuine (as usual) when he said that nothing was any more concerning to him once he was in there than when he was anticipating how it would look and how it would go. πŸ‘πŸ»

He explained that there was inflammation, but no more than he was expecting. He said that nothing gave him any kind of pause, that the surgery went as well as he could have hoped for, and that I don’t need to worry so much at this point. (Easier said than done, pal… 😏) I’m getting more blood drawn tomorrow, and he’s referring me to an endocrinologist in the same building that will hopefully help get my screwed up levels straightened out, as well as likely doing (or scheduling) this marker/radiation pill dealΒ  – which will hopefully be a one time thing followed by close monitoring. 🀞🏻

I figure I’ll save the questions about if/when I’ll have to see an oncologist, although I’m guessingΒ that’sΒ gonna be the doctor that would be doing the marker/radiation pill deal that I just mentioned, now that I think about it. πŸ€” It’s a little frustrating to be handed off from specialist to specialist, but better to have a whole bunch of different eyes on the situation than just one d00d who might not know what he’s doing, right?

So today’s follow-up… I’ll take it as a positive outcome. πŸ™‚ Didn’t really learn anything new, but learning that the labs confirmed what the initial tests suggested, and nothing worse… that’s sure better than the alternative. Also, having the whole “Don’t BS me, doc.” conversation, with the way he replied… it did actually make me feel a little more comfortable with the whole thing in my head. And so it goes…

Just Keep Swimming

I’d say I’m at about 80% with my walking right now. 😐 I’ve still got a couple more appointments with Dr Taulbee, then what I’m hoping is my final visit at his office with a physical therapist to complete my evaluation and give me some “homework” to keep things moving in the right direction. Blood panels came back okay, so whatever caused the swelling around my spine is apparently gone. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I dunno… I’ve got so much medical shit going on right now, my brain is kinda refusing to care about or retain the details as long as things are “normal” as they say. πŸ˜’

I had to postpone my monthly WC doctor appointment so I could get in at the new dentist yesterday, where I’m getting ready to start catching up on everything that I’ve neglected for many years now. 😬 I’ve had a filling here and there, and one toof pulled, but we’re actually setting up a plan to take care of everything that needs attention now, before it gets too late. 😳 It’s going to be three different big-ish appointments, where they are gonna focus on one quarter of my mouf at a time. The only toof that’s gonna have to go (at least as it stands right now) is my left lower wisdom, which has chipped and needed to come out anyway. They think everything else should be okay with a bit of fiddlin’ and updating.

I’ve literally had some sort of appointment or testing done every other day for the past three weeks, and it’s basically gonna be the same for at least another two. 😯 It’s my own fault… one, for not keeping up on things I should have kept up on over the years, and two, because I decided to jump back in and start getting everything back up to date all at once. 🀨 When I started scheduling things, having my back suddenly go fucked wasn’t part of the equation, but I suppose if it was gonna happen it might as well be when I’m in “Alright, let’s do this.” mode with the rest of it. Thank gawd that I’ve got both the time and finances to be able to do this though… I know a lot of people aren’t as fortunate in both of those areas.

The only thing I’m kinda nervous about is my upcoming appointment with the ENT, since my PCP referred me to him so that he can order a biopsy on my thyroid. πŸ˜₯ The ultrasound confirmed that it’s a “complex” mass (aka the bad kind) and that it has grown since it was first spotted during an MRI of my spinal fusion site. 😟 So, that’s not great news, but I’m doing my best to put it all out of my mind. Whether it’s my regular doctor, my WC doctor, the chiropractor, the dentist, or this guy… until I get whatever “news” it is that they have to give me, my brain has put up a firewall. Like Nope. Not interested in bouncing this around until we actually know something.” or whatever… 😏

And hey, if they say I’m dying at least I won’t have to blow all that money at the dentist, amiright? πŸ˜„

The Moose Out Front

I swear… life is testing me right now.

Monday:

  • Called my doctor to make an appointment about my thyroid. They said the earliest they could get me in was the end of June. The end of fucking June. 😠
  • Looked around and learned that the FMC-linked clinics in town have “Walk-In Wednesdays” for new patients, people that don’t have an appointment, etc. πŸ™‚
  • Oh, and despite being nowhere around poison ivy when I worked in the yard the other day, I now have a bit of poison ivy on both of my hands. πŸ˜‘ Awesome.

Tuesday:

  • Went to the MRI place to have them print out my results for me. Sat for almost an hour before they were able to get that done. πŸ˜’Β (New computers or something.)
  • Now that I’ve been able to read them myself, they aren’t good, but they aren’t necessarily bad bad quite yet. πŸ˜• A little more urgency for the Wed appt now.
  • Received the determination from my Franklin Co Court workers comp case, which is 21 pages long and full of case law and obscene amounts of legal-ese. πŸ€”
  • The results were in my favor, which is awesome, but my mind is still focused on getting up early to make sure I’m at the walk-in clinic on Wednesday when they open. 🀨

Wednesday:

  • Slept about 4 hours (the same as most nights lately)Β then woke up at 4am and waited until close to noon to head in town and get in line at the doctor’s office.
  • Arrived 15 minutes early to an empty parking lot and a sign on the door that said all of the offices were closed today for employee training. πŸ˜πŸ˜‘πŸ˜£πŸ˜‘πŸ€¬πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ
  • Sat in the parking lot, debating if I should drive around town looking for someone to run down, but decided to go visit Dad instead. (I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide my level of joking on that last comment… heh)

Keep in mind… I’m already twitchy about phone calls and appointments and such, I’m already feeling physically miserable lately, plus I’ve got workers comp shit on my mind. Plus plus I now know what the results of my MRI are, and it’s rather important that a few additional tests are needed sooner than later. 😳

I’m glad that I went out to see Dad though. I had already psyched myself up and found the energy to potentially endure a long, long wait at the doctor’s office – so hanging out for a few hours with Dad, talking, was definitely a better way to spend that time. So I do have those couple of silver linings… the win in court (which, unfortunately, can still be appealed to the Ohio State Supreme Court) and the visit.

I’m taking the rest of the day off now. I’m not gonna think about any of this negative shit for the rest of the day, so that way when I get up tomorrow I can hopefully make some phone calls regarding insurance, cards, workers comp shit, etc. 🀞🏻