Now We’re Cookin’

Another long day of medical stuff. Nothing really new or concerning. So, so much data from all the labs and pathology and whatever… some of the most recent stuff hadn’t even been interpreted so it was presented in its pure data form, but there was still enough “plain english” stuff for him to form his opinion and explain things very clearly. It turns out that not only was the cancer in my left lymph node, but they also found (after the fact) that there was a “micro-tumor” in the right one as well… so it’s good that they sliced them both out to be safe.

The thing that made the overall picture slightly better today is that they also tested the nearby lymph node and the results showed no cancer cells there. So, yeah, it’s just a test, it’s hard to say how accurate it really is, but I’ll take the good news… so we’re gonna go with that for now. Defective thyroid removed, and no cancer in the nearby lymph node. He also made some adjustments to my meds which should help me battle the lack of energy and accidental naps, and I’ll start taking those tomorrow.

The other positive thing from this appointment is that one of the bigger balls is now in motion. I doΒ have to go through the radioactive iodine treatment, which is meant to catch any random cancer cells that may still be hiding out, but there’s not a huge urgency to it – so I won’t start until this time next month. It had to be that way due to my other appointments and schedule, because there’s a 7-day period where I’m supposed to remain isolated so I don’t contaminate the unwashed public by my presence… so of course I wouldn’t wanna see Dr Walter and Nicole during that time.

The process will begin with me getting some sort of injection (to mask the effect of the thyroid medication) on Monday and Tuesday, followed by the actual radiation stuff on Wednesday. After that part is completed I then have to go for a full body scan. I think that’s the next thing that I’m actually nervous about. It’s meant to see if anything was missed, anywhere, and to have a scan to use as a (hopefully) successful baseline for another full scan six months after that. So yeah, it’s quite the glob of activity coming up here soon.

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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…

Abundance Of Caution

We’re down to about a week-and-a-half before my surgery. 😳 And let me tell you, I’ve been dealing with some serious anxiety issues since the beginning of this past week – and I’m finding it hard to shake. πŸ˜₯ I’m right on the edge, always, and the slightest thing will push me over into labored breathing, chest pains, dizziness, etc. 😟 So while it might make me “difficult” in some people’s minds between now and my surgery, I’ve got to do whatever it takes to keep my anxiety levels low, or at least unchanged if I’m still managing to hang on to being okay.

It’s kind of embarrassing, but I honestly need to keep myself in a mental health bubble for the next 10 days. πŸ˜’ I don’t want anything to happen that will risk me not being able to have the surgery when scheduled, and going to the ER for a panic attack with severe chest pains probably wouldn’t help that cause. πŸ˜• Now, I am gonna tell the doctors and surgeon everything that I’ve experienced up to that point, before I go in, because I absolutely want them to know… but yeah, right now is not the time for me to deal with anything that I don’t absolutely need to deal with.

Cassi helped with that over the past couple of days. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ˜ I went and got her on Thursday after she got off work, because she had two days off in a row and wanted to spend them here with me. ☺ We never figured out how to make our “couple” relationship work, but boy are we good at being each other’s “person” in times of need. And it’s because neither of us need much… just the distraction from our respective lives that’s somehow provided by just being in each other’s presence.

As for what we did over those two days… there’s really not much to talk about. We just plop down in the living room, turn on Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix, and just sit with each other and watch, talk, eat mac and cheese… heh… just “normal” stuff that doesn’t add to the anxiety. The only times it got a little rough for both of us was when one of the episodes would be about thyroids or cancer and the results. Probably shouldn’t have watched those particular episodes, but it’s also good to think about everything realistically, all of the potential outcomes – and letting myself cry a little bit and be scared with her… it was much better than doing that same thing by myself. πŸ™‚

So yeah, the last couple of days were really nice, and really needed… and today, well, I’m calling it “a day off” since I don’t intend to do much (if any) communicating with anyone, and instead focus on things that I just personally need to do before it’s time for my surgery. 😊 The doctors and surgeon haven’t give me any reason to worry about the surgery. None. But you know how it is… you still wanna kinda get things in order, just to give yourself that peace of mind. And doing that sorta thing makes me feel better… makes me feel productive, which is something I always aim for.

Mood is good… I’m hangin’ in there.

Checked Boxes

I probably shouldn’t feel as relieved as I do right now, considering that I’ve still got biopsy planning to do in a couple of days, but it sure feels nice to be done with the lower back treatments. Even though I’m still having some issues with my neck, tonight feels totally different than the past few nights. πŸ™‚ Just knowing that the “every other day” of at least that particular matter is done with for now… it has taken a surprising weight off of me. Especially because the treatments really did help, and I’m feeling so much better than I did when the symptoms first appeared. I’m not back to normal, but I’m getting closer with each day that passes – and that’s all that I could really hope for.

I’m not pushing my luck, so I’m not going to do anything too physical for a while (and I’m gonna keep easing back into it as I do)Β but I’ve taken my improved mood this evening and did a little picking up around the house, went through my closet and picked out a ton of clothes to donate away, and still plan on getting all of my legal documents sorted, stapled, and ready to sign in front of a notary tomorrow.

And this next stuff… it’s bad news… but it’s not “negative” in the way I was meaning the other day, when I said I didn’t want to post about so much negative stuff. Jim’s ex-girlfriend Alex… I thought her mom had actually passed away a couple of days ago, but it turns out they decided to keep her on life support (brain death) long enough for her to be able to donate organs and tissue to as many people as possible. 😒😊 Heartbreaking for their family, obviously, but it’s good for them to know that even in death their mom was able to keep helping some people. πŸ™πŸ»

And then another friend, who’s actually a little bit younger than me… he unexpectedly lost his son a few days ago. 😟 Losing any relative is hard enough as it is, but I can’t even start to imagine how a parent must feel when their son or daughter dies before them. I mean, it’s just expected that kids will almost always outlive their parents, so it seems that muchΒ more unfair when it doesn’t work like that.

But I’m gonna jump back into this little bit of work that I’m doing, so I can wrap it up and then aim some boiling hot shower water at my neck for a while. πŸ”₯πŸ”₯😳🚿πŸ”₯πŸ”₯ I’m hoping to sleep better tonight than how it’s been over the past few nights, so I won’t feel more beat up than usual when I head into town for a few things tomorrow.

Research

I ended up getting almost 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep last night, likely thanks to my normal evening meds and a couple Tylenol PMs taken at just the right moment. Sadly, I still woke up tired, at least physically… but my motivation game was strong. I guess this was the right day for that combination though, since it’s the weekend and there really wasn’t much that I could do “out and about” to continue my meager progress from last week.

I’ve looked up a bunch of different doctors and “family practice” offices in Lancaster and nearby cities, so I’ll be able to make some calls and maybe even stop by some of these places on Monday. πŸ™‚ I’ve also researched some urgent care places and narrowed it down to two that may be able to help with the tests that I need. 🀨 That’s my backup plan, should the “find a new doctor that doesn’t have a two month waiting list” thing fail. πŸ˜’ And then on top of that I’ve gotten names and info from our local hospital’s site, so I’m prepared to goΒ there to talk to someone about my predicament if need be.

My main concern (after just getting the “serious stuff” started) is doing this in a way that won’t screw me over when it comes to my insurance and the bills. 😳 I assume it’s always like this, since it’s been this way with any insurance that I’ve ever had, but basically you have to jump through all of the required hoops. πŸ™„ Like, you can’t just go to a heart specialist and ask for an EKG without having been referred to that heart specialist by your “normal” doctor. πŸ€” I mean, I guess you can… but your insurance won’t pay for it without the referral.

So yeah, off and on throughout the day was all of that, and then in the evening I remembered that I needed to make a couple phone calls.Β The first was just returning a call from one of my attorneys regarding their recent court actions on my behalf, and the second was to leave a message for the company that I’ve chosen to trim my hedges and spirea bushes, to let them know that I’m on board.

Tomorrow should be a lazy day. 😏 I can’t think of anything that I’ve forgotten, at least not right now, so hopefully I’ll be able to sleep in for a bit before I go to visit with Mom and Dad in the afternoon. If I don’t get too late of a start, I might even try to hit a couple of thrift stores before returning to Maven, the homestead, and a rapidly-approaching Monday morning.

Faith In Medicine

Got up early yesterday and went and got that steroid injection taken care of. Since I was having it done at a local “surgery pavilion” (yeah πŸ™„ I know) it ended up feeling like the real deal. 😯πŸ₯ I had to strip and change into a gown in the staging type room, got all wired up with sensors and an IV, was rolledΒ way down to a procedure room full of huge lab machines, and when I was done they wheeled me all the way back up to a different area (recovery) where, after having my vitals taken a couple more times, I got dressed again and then had some bloke guide me to the exit. 😳

The doctor that did the procedure is the same one that I’ve been seeing every month for the past decade, so after seeing him for years in “diagnostic mode” – it was kewl to see him in that environment, runnin’ the theater, calling out to either of the nurses for this and that, and then of course jabbing me with needles. πŸ’‰πŸ˜¬ And I’ll admit, some of the stuff hurt a little more than I expected. Kind of like when you get a tattoo on your bicep, the underneath part is super sensitive… well, in order to get me numbed up, the area(s) that he had to hit repeatedly with the lidocaine injections had that same “YOWZA!” effect.

So, the site was numb, and he went in… needle, then saline, then dye, then… oops, a bit of blood. 😯 I’m not sure exactly how bad that could be, but none of them seemed worried and he decided to try one level lower instead. (Which means I had to go through the anesthetic process all over again. ☹ Yay.) This time it went without issue… but let me tell you, it’s quite an unusual sensation having extra fluid (as limited as it probably was) pumped into your spine. It’s like it’s used to a certain “normal” pressure, and that bit of extra… at least for me, it was like someone plopped down on my back for a few minutes. So strange.

My doctor is awesome though… and I’ve probably said that to various people in various places over 100 times by now. 😏 But he talked to me through the whole thing, told me everything that was happening, everything that was getting ready to happen, and then when I was in the recovery room he came out and showed me the pictures, described it all over again to make me feel at ease, and that was about it. πŸ€— There was a lot more “fuss” than I was expecting, but if I notice that it’s making a difference over the next few weeks I certainly won’t object to doing it again when needed. 🀨 ‘Cuz something’s gotta give… something has to eventually work better on me again, right?

The day before all of this, I stopped in again to see Mom and Dad. πŸ‘ͺ As I was telling him about what I was getting ready for, he mentioned the procedure that he was getting ready to have… but he said it in such a “matter of fact / no big deal” type of way that I didn’t really pause to consider the seriousness. πŸ€” More serious than mine, anyway. A heart cath is one of those common-ish surgeries where you just expect that cardiac surgeons can basically do them in their sleep… but each patient can obviously be very, very different – so you can’t really say for sure how safe it is or isn’t. πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€βš•οΈπŸ‘πŸ»

But, and I think it started way back when Mom had a brain tumor removed, for whatever reason I just have a strong faith in medicine, the people that practice it, along with the technology and science behind it. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Yeah, I’m all fucked up now, but not because of the fusion surgery… it was because of the delay of the surgery. So that’s why I wasn’t sweating my injection yesterday, and why I’m only slightly sweating Dad’s upcoming procedure. Oh, and you may have noticed that I didn’t mention God in all those things I said have faith in… but yeah, he’s absolutely watching over all of it, for all of us, so while it’s not a guarantee – it does add a subconscious sense of “unconcern” when thinking about it all.