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.

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What’s This?

Only got a couple hours sleep last night and then still had to wake up at 8am to get ready for my monthly appointment with Dr Walter. πŸ˜’ I don’t know how he does it, but he always seems to be in a good mood no matter what the time of day. If nothing else, he’s got a great “game face” for when it comes to dealing with patients. 😏 I told him how my left arm was literally like a limp noodle the day that I came home after my surgery, but how since then I haven’t really had any pain – thanks to the temporarily increased meds.

So it was a good visit, with nothing for me to really complain about. Like I mentioned to him, I think that sometimes the amount of pain that I’m feeling in my shoulder and in my neck is relative. When that’s the only thing that I’ve got to focus on, there’s a good chance I’ll notice it more and feel genuinely worse – but when I’m barely two weeks out from a major surgery, my old injury is the last thing on my mind as long as it’s staying at that moderate level of pain where it’s usually at.

I filled him in about the next steps that I’ll be taking with all of that, and we agreed that next month would probably be better for evaluating any changes, since I’ll have had plenty of time to heal from the surgery. I had to leave there and head directly downstairs to have more blood drawn for a thyroid panel, but I still left in a surprisingly good mood.

It’s weird… I haven’t had much to feel good about in a while, and in a way I still don’t… so having those hints of “good mood” just felt weird, since it then caused me to sit here waiting for something or someone to come along and ruin it. 😞 Like Charlie Brown said, “I think I’m afraid to be happy… because whenever I get too happy, something bad always happens.”

But with that little boost of positive energy, I did go ahead and throw the Insta360 One camera out there on a tripod in the front yard, set to time-lapse mode. One frame every five seconds, and I had one lens directly facing the setting sun, with the lens on the other side obviously completely shielded from the sunlight. 😎 I wanted to not only do a time-lapse, but to see how bad the stitching is when there’s such an exposure difference between the two lenses. In practice, it would probably be better to turn the camera 90 degrees, where both lenses would get a similar amount of bright light on them. 🀨

Meh… I’ve gotta recharge the camera before I can hook it up to the phone and export the video, so I’ll just drop it in here later once it’s done. In the mean time I’m gonna get a notepad and start documenting all the medical bill stuff, and try to figure out what I wanna cover at my PCP appointment tomorrow. Oy… too many doctors this week, eh? And it ain’t over yet…

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…

Behind The Mask

So it’s been a week since the surgery, and while the incision site seems to be healing well, I can’t say that I’m too impressed with how my body is acting. I’m anxious to talk to the doctor again about this, so I can find out exactly what’s going to be done to get me back closer to “right” again.

Each day I’ve tried to do this or that, to see how I feel… and I feel stuck at about ten minutes of activity before it starts to affect me. The energy just isn’t there, and I get overheated when trying to do pretty much anything. Again, like I’ve said before, I know that there will be adjustments to my medication that should hopefully help with this – but it’s just frustrating how I’ve kinda been “waiting out” this first week to see if things would just gradually get better, when it seems like they’re not going to.

I’m gonna take a shower today though, while keeping my neck out of the water, because these cat baths aren’t cutting it – and I haven’t washed my hair since last Wednesday, so I’m far overdue. I haven’t shaved either, since I’m nervous about getting the area around my stitches, so I’m looking rather homeless right now… and that doesn’t help to make me feel any better when I look in the mirror.

Meh… it’s just been a long week and I’m feeling pretty miserable.

Crusty

I really wasn’t looking forward to changing my bandages, consider the way my neck hole leaked that one evening… but one side of the band-aid underneath the gauze started coming off, so I figured now was the time. With the way everything was soaked with dried blood, you’d have thought that someone stabbed me or something. The doctor did right by removing my drain, because it was down to 2.5cc in 8hrs… so it was just a matter of something in there that needed to let go, and it apparently did.

The actual site where the drain was though, it looks surprisingly good. For there and the main incision site, at least as of right now there’s no concerning redness or swelling – so I just cleaned everything up, applied the anti-bacterial spooge, and taped on some new gauze. I’m hoping to not have to mess with it further until the stitches come out.

Getting This One Out Of The Way

The surgery went well and I’m back at home recovering. And while that’s good news, simply making it through the surgery – and the surgery itself being successful in what it was aiming to accomplish, there’s still more waiting to be done as the labs now do their thing. 😟 I had a drain in for a little over 24 hours after the procedure, but it was removed today (oush) at a quick follow-up with the doctor. I’m glad to have it out, because I was perpetually worried that I was going to accidentally snag it and rip it out of my throat… 😣 and sleeping vertically doesn’t work very well.

The incision is about twice the size of the one from when I had my C5-C7 fusion done, which was a little surprising. πŸ˜• They needed as much access as possible to search for and remove all the bad bits though, so I guess I can’t complain. Swallowing was excruciating for the first 24 hours… so I spent most of my mental energy trying not to. 😠 Try it… see how that works for you. (spoiler: it doesn’t)Β I can finally eat soft food now though, so it’s been a Spaghettios and apple sauce type of day.

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When I got home yesterday I felt like I had been hit by a bus. Everything working against me… the new surgery trauma, the agitation to my older injury and nerve damage, moving my neck around in ways that it doesn’t like to be moved, and then some issues with them not getting my normal medication to me in a timely manner – which of course triggered uncontrollable shaking in my shoulder… it was a perfect horrible storm. πŸ˜₯ Cassi stayed with me way later than she was supposed to (she had to get up pre-dawn for her work) but I’m glad that she did because I couldn’t lift my arms, couldn’t use the muscles in my neck to lean myself forward to get out of the recliner… easily the most pain I’ve ever experienced.

I’m not going to get into any of the details, but I’ve already contacted the hospital to let them know that they need to provide me with someone to talk to about my “customer experience.” πŸ˜’ Maybe I’ll share all that after it’s done… but for the weekend that will be going on my mental back-burner as I start un-pausing my life and trying to do a few things. First of which will be filling out all of the forms for the various financial assistance things that I can take advantage of. I’ve got Medicare, but that sure doesn’t cover it all… but luckily the hospital, a non-profit, has lots of programs to help make up the difference so I don’t have to go broke while I try to keep my engine running.

Meh… I suppose that’s enough for now. I do have a little bit of non-crappy stuff that I could probably report on, so maybe if I can’t sleep tonight I’ll end up making a second entry. But right now I’m exhausted and everything hurts so it’s hard for non-crappy words to come out of my fingers right now.

Nervous But Not Worried

One week to go until my surgery (don’t worry, I’m not gonna count down each time I make a post… heh) but I’m trying to make today as “normal” and chill as possible. Trash runs tomorrow, so I’ve gotta fill the buggy and drag it to the road… then I’ve got a small stack of mail that I should probably get to… and then I wanna straighten up the living room, vacuum up all this kitty hair, etc. 😏 Normal.

I’m nervous, but I’m at ease. Nothing about “right now” is how I want it, and I plan to work to change what I can after the surgery and recover time, but the way things are right now should get me through to next Wednesday without any big chance of unintentionally triggering anxiety attacks or whatever. Right now I have to worry about me. (And I know I’ve got all my loved ones’ support, which definitely helps.)

I still haven’t told a majority of my friends. Some have learned about it through the blog here, I’ve told a small handful in a private Facebook group, but I haven’t yet figured out how to tell “everyone” in a way that won’t trigger a huge reaction. I guess that’s the point of friends though… to provide those huge reactions, since it means they care. πŸ™‚ But yeah… not today.

Today I get to pretend that it’s just like any other day.