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

Adjustment

At my most recent shrink appointment, he prescribed Paxil and Lamictal. He spooked me with the Lamictal though, so I haven’t started taking it yet. Serious talk about the possibility of a rash that could mean something very bad. 😳 So it’s a difficult medication to “sell” when someone already has high anxiety. But the Paxil, the first week (which is now done) I was to take only one in the morning. Now, I’m supposed to take one in the morning and one at night. I’m hoping that will help the problem that I’ve noticed all this week.

I’m also going to start the Lamictal tonight as well. I just never like starting two new meds at the exact same time, because then whether I experience a benefit or a side effect, you can’t know which one was the cause… although I suppose sometimes you don’t get the benefit or side effect unless you’re taking both of them. 🧐

This past week, even though I usually slept well, every time that I’d wake up the next day I would have instant severe anxiety already happening. 😣πŸ˜₯ Now, it’s not like this is the first time that this has happened… and I know it sounds bad to describe it this way, but sometimes when anxiety is so bad, it’s just the disappointment of waking up that triggers it. 😐 Oof, yeah, that sounds way worse than I intend it to. But yeah, it was random before, but it’s been a constant since I’ve started taking the Paxil in the morning. So hopefully now that I’ll be taking an evening dose as well, maybe that’ll change how I wake up.

That’s the one positive though… as long as I take it immediately upon waking up in a near panic attack, the feeling actually goes away relatively quickly. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ™‚ So I’m still hoping this will be something good, and it’s just a matter of getting on the right dosage. And yeah, it’s probably a little weird that I’m just putting this all out here for anyone to read – but it’s not like I’ve tried to keep the “twitchy” side of me a secret. 😏 And I really do know the majority of the things that have triggered it (and keep triggering it) so it’s not like I’m staggering around in the dark, unable to see the boogeyman.

It’s not a permanent solution, because it’s not a good solution, but part of me getting my head straight is by cutting myself off from people for a while. 😞 As I’ve described it before, my empathy is like a horrible super power that I’ve got… and when I know so many people that are going through so many awful things, I absorb the feelings that they’re experiencing regarding many of those things. 😣 Add that on top of my medical stuff, my workers comp stuff, my disability, etc… and unfortunately the easiest way to reduce anxiety is by avoiding the sources (and even potential sources) other than my own. πŸ₯Ί Then (I’m hoping) once I’m in a better place, I’ll be better able to function like a “normal” human and bring myself back into the fold. I don’t know if it’s a good plan, but it’s a plan…

EDIT:Β  Jesus… maybe I’m not quite ready to risk this Lamictal. 😯 I shouldn’t have googled.Β 

Checking In

Haven’t been able to shake this funk.Β πŸ˜• Started with that shitty low-iodine diet, then the self-imposed house arrest so I wouldn’t unintentionally expose anyone to radiation, and even now after the scan the other day I’m having a hard time bouncing back. And I was only hoping to bounce back to “meh” rather than “okay” or “good” since I know those two options are unavailable to my brain right now.Β πŸ˜”

It’s not even really about my own stuff… it’s just tough knowing that Mom has been having bad days recently, and knowing where things are eventually headed. 😟 It’s not even a conscious choice… but I have a hard time attempting a good mood when I know Mom’s going through things that certainly won’t allow her mood to be that great. And like I’ve mentioned, it’s not just her… my friend Christina just passed, another couple of friends are still fighting different types of cancer as well, dealing with my stuff, worrying about Mom and Dad… it’s just hard to break out of the “bleh” that I feel for all of those things, even though I know nobody would want me to be “bleh” on their behalf. 😏

But anyway… my scan… I think I may have mentioned that I really didn’t know the details before I went in, although all of my assumptions were correct. I don’t dare google anything about thyroid cancer, because I’m sure that I’d accidentally expose myself to horror stories that would make me stress more than I already am. 😳 But the imaging machine looked like an open MRI for the most part, although not only did it scan in that traditional method, but there were parts during the process where the entire thing would slowly rotate all around me as I was lying there. 😬

I didn’t have to get into a gown, and only needed to remove my keys, wallet, belt, ring, etc. The most difficult thing was lying flat on my back for an hour. 😣 Whether I’m sitting (usually on the floor) or sleeping (either flopping around or in one specific “good” position) I rarely maintain a posture where I’m completely straightened out and flat. Thankfully the machine made little noise, and nothing even close to the anxiety inducing buzzes and thunks of a damn MRI machine. So all-in-all it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

But it sounds like the scan was just a scan, since all of the current treatment had been ongoing since the week prior – as the radioiodine 131 was flowing through me and into any stray, dying thyroid bits that remained after the surgery.Β πŸ€• The scan basically just documents any little glowing specks… at least I hope that specks are all that’s left… then in several months I’ll have to do it all over again, and the results then will be compared with the scan from the other day.Β πŸ™πŸ»

I do have another appointment scheduled with the endocrinologist in a little more than a month, where I’ll have to do all my bloodwork again so they can check all of the various levels that indicate how good of a job they’ve all done to this point.Β πŸ˜·πŸ’‰πŸ˜ It’s difficult knowing that there isn’t really an “Okay, we’re done. You’re good.” with this.Β πŸ˜” They’re not able to tell me that I’m cancer free, because even if the scans show zero specks, it’s just one of those things that a person has to live with, have regular tests for, and if specks are found again in the next scan… then the cycle will start all over again. 😟

I’d say that I get a break from worrying about all of this for a while, but I don’t know if there could be something in the recent scan that would make my doctors go “Ahh, shit…” and require me to come in for something else before my already scheduled followup.Β πŸ˜’ Next on the agenda, though, is my first full appointment with the new shrink on Monday.Β πŸ™„ I’ll certainly have a variety of things to tell her about, which make me the way that I am right now.

C’est la vie

Well, I suppose it was bound to happen one of these days, considering the amount of appointments and other obligations that I’ve got… but this morning I completely blew past my scheduled appointment with the psychiatrist. 😬 It was scheduled at 9am, so I knew it was gonna be a struggle, but I really thought I’d be fine. I mean, I haven’t missed any of my other stupid-early appointments… but I didn’t manage to fall asleep until after 4am, so meh… whatever, I guess. πŸ˜’

I shouldn’t look at it this way, but when I’m keeping up with all of the other stuff I need to be keeping up with, waiting a little bit longer to bring in the doctor that provides the happy pills… yeah, I guess I’m just not that worried about that. 😡 And I know, mental health is probably as important as physical health, but hey… I’ve got the counselor now, and I’ve already got that next appointment scheduled, so that’ll have to be good enough for the time being.

The two offices are related though, so I’m not sure if ghosting the pharmaceutical shrink will have any affect when I go to the talky shrink. 😐 I’ll give ’em a call on Monday and make nice and see what they say. I did make it to the dentist though a few hours later, so I can report that maintenance on the lower part of my mouf is now finished and those teefs are about as good as they’re gonna get. πŸ‘©πŸ»β€βš•οΈπŸ‘πŸ» The permanent crowd actually feels really natural, although I’ve been afraid to look too closely in the mirror in case it looks wonky.

The Rest of My Month Looks Fun

  • γ€°PharmacyΒ  /Β  monthly visit to jump through hoops for meds
  • γ€°PsychiatristΒ  /Β Β intake appointment
  • γ€°DentistΒ  /Β  temp crown removal and permanent crown installation
  • γ€°EndocrinologistΒ  /Β  injection #1 prior to 131 treatment
  • γ€°EndocrinologistΒ  /Β  injection #2 prior to 131 treatment
  • γ€°FMCΒ  /Β  nuclear medicine department for radioactive iodine (131) treatment
  • γ€°HomeΒ  /Β  (one week of isolating myself from the humans)
  • γ€°FMCΒ  /Β  full body scan 7 days after 131 treatment
  • γ€°PsychologistΒ  /Β  first “real” counseling session
  • γ€°Rehab/PainΒ  /Β Β monthly WC appointment

Spent most of this morning on the phone, trying to wrangle all of my other appointments around the iodine treatment schedule – since that’s the one that is the most important, and the one that effectively removes a week of possible scheduling time from my life.Β πŸ˜’

EDIT: Just got off of another call with Dr Walter’s office. We’re now trying to figure out how much of a pain in the ass it’s going to cause… me being seen by his PA rather than directly by him, because Dr Walter is my “physician of record” when it comes to anything related to my workers comp claim – and they loveΒ finding any reason that they can to deny me treatment or medication. 😠 This sounds like it will be a work in progress, and we probably won’t know what the negative side effects are until they happen.

Tedious Ramblin’

Doing my typical weekend thing, being half-productive / half-bum. 😐 Last week wasn’t too bad… got a few of my “must do” things done, while adding in a couple new things on the fly – and whatever wasn’t accomplished last week will just be added to the list of stuff for the upcoming week.Β πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ I guess I got just enough of last week’s stuff done that it’s not really stressing me out today like it normally might.

Dealing with the misc “bill stuff” last week was tedious.Β πŸ˜’ My check for an bill that I had gotten was returned to me, with a note that said no balance was due. That same day, I got a second bill for that same amount… and it took talking to someone in person to get them to acknowledge that I was handing them a check for the amount due, at least according to their file. 😠 Not a big deal, just annoying.

Then I got a bill from one of Dad’s nurses or doctors, for an “at home visit” which I obviously don’t get here at my own home. I called and explained that our names are similar but not identical, but she still couldn’t tell me why the bill came to me, in my name. 🀨 She assured me that she fixed it in the system and that I won’t have to worry about it. It was for only ten bucks, but still… annoying.

Tried to call the hospital about some additional bill stuff on Friday afternoon, but even though it wasn’t that late in the day – apparently everyone with any authority had already left the building for the weekend. In theory, the financial assistance should absorb some bills as they’re generated, so there’s a good chance that the ones I’m calling about will have already been affected (or perhaps eliminated) by the time I actually speak to someone about them.

Everything that I ordered for Maven finally came in. There were issues because of the package being damaged in transit, then automatically refunded, then the order was automatically re-orderedΒ – despite me doing that same thing manually… just nonsense that had to be worked out before everything was good.Β πŸ™„ But she’s feeling better, isΒ mostly flea-free… so basically I’m handling a few things at the same time with her, like I’ve been doing appointments with myself for a few months now.

Oh, and then the “on the fly” thing that I mentioned having to make room for last week… it was an intake appointment that my PCP had made for me, to start seeing a therapist and psychiatrist.Β πŸ˜³πŸ‘©β€βš•οΈ The last two PCP appointments I mentioned that I’d like to do that eventually, but that I wasn’t ready to throw it in with all of the rest of the things I’m dealing with quite yet… but my PCP apparently (and accurately) figured that I really did want to get started with the psych side of things, and that I just needed the nudge of having an appointment straight-up scheduled without any input from me. 😏

The first person I saw (and the only person, until next week) was the therapist lady, and I think I’m going to like her. 🧐 I got the typical hour-long intake visit with generic questions to start sizing me up… and I think I’ll like her not only because we share political and social views (it came up while talking about insurance and pre-existing conditions), but also because I think she’s aware that I’m relatively smart – and she seems pretty sharp herself. I always like therapy better when there seems to be a “fun” but somewhat adversarial type relationship – where we each know that what we both say will likely have merit.

Not much talk about meds yet, since that will fall under the umbrella of what the actual psychiatrist will be handling for me… so, I dunno, it may seem weird but I’ve always liked counseling for some reason. Even if it’s just because I can rant to a disconnected party for almost an hour and then just go home.Β πŸ™‚ I don’t have to consider any “solutions” that they think might make me “better” compared to what I usually am. I mean, I’m open to suggestions… but do I have any specific goals or methods that I’m particularly interested in? Not really. Hey… I’m not the one who actually made this appointment.