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.

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Once More For Good Measure

The bulk of my current thyroid treatment has been set up. Blood draw, three weeks without any thyroid meds, limiting iodine intake in my diet for that whole time, another blood draw… then the hospital (if the results of the second blood test allows it) will schedule a time for me to go there for the iodine radiation pill again, with the full body scan about a week later. Once everything is said and done (and only if there are zero issues along the way) I’ll be spending a little over a month without my thyroid and without the meds that replace its functions. And no, I’ve got no intention of googling to see how bad it might get.

Same as last time, I’ll have a protocol that I will have to follow for the week after I’ve taken the pill. No contact with anyone for the first few days, no contact with kids or pregnant women after that… washing everything I touch, keeping my distance from the cat when possible, using plastic utensils and paper plates… all that sorta fun stuff. Only this time I have no idea how I’ll physically and mentally feel due to being off of the thyroid medicine for so long. The next month or so will be an adventure.

Meh… there was more doctor stuff today, plus I’m likely gonna be radioactive when I’m supposed to have my next WC doctor appointment, so I’ll have to figure that out… but I just don’t have the mental energy to really keep at it this evening. Found out a couple of sad things with some other friends… I dunno, this day just ended up being pretty crappy. I’m gonna try to get some sleep and try to start fresh tomorrow.

I’m glad that at least this stuff is all on track now and we’re moving forward, I guess…

Nerves

As of my last post, I was feeling the then-immediate relief of not having to learn of the plan for my next session of treatment that day. I thought that might make my weekend a little more relaxed, but with each hour closer that Monday gets – the more my nerves started messing with me. 😐 I’m still good, but knowing that tomorrow I’ll be getting the call, it did change what I ended up doing with my weekend.

I’m aware that I could be making a bigger deal out of this than it’s going to end up being, but the alternate is also true… so the best course of action, one that starts me out on better footing before whatever’s next, was to use these two days to get the house nice. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I don’t know if it’d be this way for everyone, but if I’m really negatively affected by stopping my thyroid meds (and most everything that I’ve heard so far is that I will be) then it’s important that the house is clean, laundry is done, dishes done up, etc.

It’s simple… feeling shitty feels shitty, but feeling shitty while also being stuck in a dirty house, with unwashed dishes taunting me, baskets of laundry waiting on me… that would just be so much more shitty for me. πŸ˜₯ Like I said, it might not be something that would bother other folks, but it would bother me more than you can even imagine. 😣 One bit of good news, and I’ll give partial credit to the way I’ve tried to keep moving, but I’m finally walking completely without a cane again. πŸ™‚ There’s still some pain, and I can still feel the unpredictable weakness… but it’s good that I’m off the meds I had a bad reaction to, and that I’m getting along much better when it comes to my knee. (Which is surprising, honestly, the way that I pretty much killed it the night that I was in Columbus several days ago.) See, it’s not always bad news around here… 😏

I am disappointed that I wasn’t able to visit a couple people that I had put on the “possibility” list for the weekend if I was feeling alright, but I’m staying hopeful that this next session of treatment will be able to conclusively “clear” me. πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš•οΈπŸ₯ΊπŸ™πŸ» Then I can hopefully work at getting my head in a better place again, eventually feeling more like a previous version of me, and potentially more able to make random trips out of the house without the anxiety stopping me before I even make it to the door. πŸ˜‘ As much as I want friends and family to “get me” when it comes to all my twitchy problems, they shouldn’t have to put up with the way that I am as much as they do. 😟 “Clean bill of health” (at least when it comes to my thyroid stuff) could do wonders for snapping me back to something more close to normal. πŸ€•Β That’s the hope anyway…

Woozy & Wobbly

Got my few hours of sleep, spent another hour just trying to get up and get moving so I could head in town… but then I stepped outside, and I don’t know if it was the heat or lack of sleep or what, but I instantly felt woozy and a little dizzy. 🀒 So despite my aversion to making phone calls, I gritted my teefs and phoned up the doctor’s office rather than driving all the way in there, not feeling the greatest.

Left a message a while ago, letting them know that I needed to get the next scan scheduled, to also reschedule my followup appointment with them after that, and also that I’d need to know when / and for how long I’ll need to stop taking my thyroid meds – and if I’ll need to make the same temporary but drastic changes to my diet like I did last time. πŸ˜•

A few hours later… still no call back. πŸ™‚πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ And that actually makes me feelΒ better. I guess it makes me feel like my condition isn’t as “Shit, we need to hurry up… call him back right away.” as I sometimes think it is. 😏 So yeah, just waiting for word either today or Monday, and of course once I get all the details I’ll be sharing most of them here. Hoping that I can make something good of the weekend in the mean time.

Trying To Not Read In To This

I got a message two days ago from the doctor’s office that is handling my thyroid cancer treatment. My next session with the radioactive iodine treatment, which should be my final session (if everything goes well), was scheduled to start near the end of July… but they now actually want to schedule that as soon as possible. 😐 They asked me to call in yesterday so we could start making a plan, but to be honest the message had me a little too shook… πŸ˜₯ and since I was actually having a decent day yesterday, I didn’t wanna risk nuking that by bringing all of my thoughts back to the “unknown” about what’s remaining inside me, if anything.

That’s also why I took advantage of the day yesterday to get caught up with some things around the house, because I know that this next step is gonna be a bit of a nightmare. 😣 I have to completely stop taking my thyroid meds for a couple of weeks, and they were clear about how it could have drastic physical and mental side effects. (Also part of the reason that I stopped the Paxil, so I didn’t have one crap thing on top of another.)Β Then once the thyroid medication is completely out of my system, that’s when I’ll go to the hospital for the radioactive pill and another full body scan about a week later. πŸ˜•

Confession… I didn’t call them back today either. 😞 Instead, what I’m going to do is just go into the office tomorrow and talk to them in person. To be sure that I understand the details of the plan, to be sure that everything is scheduled properly… and also to see if I can catch some kind of vibe by the way that they speak with me about it. 🧐 Like I said, I’m trying to not assume that something has gotten worse just because they want to start things sooner. 😳 It could be as simple as being easier on their schedule, and just better for me (or anyone) to do all of this “second phase” stuff sooner rather than later anyway.

So yeah, that’s the next thing on the radar… movin’ in fast. 😟 And lemme tell ya’ something. πŸ˜’ Uncertainty, when it comes to something like this… it’s a special kind of slow, drawn-out torture. I’m ready though. I was doing good at keeping it out of my thoughts up until now – but whether I got that call a couple days ago, or whether we stuck to the original end-of-July starting point… either way the anxiety was gonna come. So I agree… let’s get this shit started. 🀨

Unrelated: I just updated my Windows 10 and all of my emojis now have thick black outlines. πŸ€”πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

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.)

Oh… My Scan / Blood Tests

I guess I never got back on here to update about my follow-up appointment with the endocrinologist. πŸ€” Before the doctor even came in, the pre-doctor person took my blood pressure and asked me if a student and intern could join the doctor when he came in to talk to me. Meh… what do I care? Sure… all are welcome, all are welcome… 😏 Gotta let the young people learn so they can fix the old people like me in the future.

He’s an interesting guy… doesn’t seem bothered to convert “data” into user friendly word blurbs for the average schmo to understand, but that’s actually okay with me. πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš•οΈ I’d much rather have a shitload of numbers and charts than a generic “You seem fine.” or whatever. πŸ€“ And with four tubes of blood, and more than four different comprehensive tests – I was surprised to hear him read off all of the numbers while also saying that almost all of them fall within the appropriate range for someone who is getting better. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

And then the full-body scan, which looked for glowing remnants of thyroid tissue that had absorbed all of the radioiodine 131 or whatever it was… this one is more subjective than objective, since it’s looking at an image rather than something that produces numbers against a chart. πŸ€” But on the scan, he said that he saw nothing that indicated that there were any stray thyroid cells left in my neck, which also means that if the cancer truly started in the thyroid and hasn’t spread to anywhere else… then it’s pretty good news, eh? πŸ™‚

He did make sure that I understood that even though the results of the scan seemed ideal, that it doesn’t mean “Woohoo! Cancer free!” of course. But it does mean that as of right now I’m in pretty good shape, so when I go through my next round of treatment in about five months, I’m starting off in a better position than a lot of folks that have had the same surgery as me. But yeah… five months from now… 😳

This next round of treatment is actually going to be worse than the first. Something to do with having the thyroid medication in my body for so long, so I’ll have to actually stop taking it for at least three weeks before they can even consider moving on to the next step. πŸ˜’ Several more blood draws, another round of radioactive iodine treatment, another full scan… and at that point, if the results are the same as this last one, they can feel pretty confident about saying that I’m cancer free. I mean, as much as anyone, even a doctor, can really “declare” something like that. πŸ˜•

I’m sure it’ll be one of those deals where if I’m good on the next one, then we’ll probably wait a year until we do it all over again… I dunno, I’m just assuming at this point, but you’d figure that each time all this fuss comes back as “Looks good.” they’d let me wait a decent bit longer before we start at the beginning with the treatment and testing. So, yeah, pretty good news… I just wish I physically felt better than what I do. 😟 Seriously, the way I’ve been feeling over the past few months, I’d have put money on the results coming back with something concerning. But I’ll take the good news and try not to dwell on it too much. I’ll just put this one behind me, and when it’s time to worry about round two, that’s when I’ll start worrying about it.