Friday, August 17, 2012

Home Alone

I have officially been home alone for a day and a half now.  I totally miss my family, but I have to admit that there's something nice about being the only one here.  I eat and sleep when I like.  I watch whatever I want on tv.  I've had several friends call in the past couple of days, and I can have an uninterrupted conversation with them for as long as I want.  It's like being 23 again.

Since I was told to hold off on any cleaning and organizing until the weekend, I've spent a lot of time either on the computer or watching movies.  I've scrubbed the tub every day after my shower, but that's about all I've done for cleaning.  I haven't even loaded my dishwasher.  It's full of clean dishes and I've been afraid to take them out and put them away.  I think this afternoon it might be ok, since it will be 48+ hours at that point.  Maybe I'll wear gloves too.

I'll need to clean my kitchen anyway because I plan to make The Grit spinach and feta lasagna tonight.  It's got pasta (obviously) and it's loaded with cheese- I think it will be the perfect post-low-iodine-diet dinner.  I've already indulged in a bagel with cream cheese this morning, but I think the lasagna will really satisfy all the carb & dairy cravings I've been having.  By the way, if you don't own The Grit Cookbook you really should.  My carnivorous husband enjoys every recipe I make out of it, and I can't say the same for my other vegetarian cookbooks.  Everything in there is crazy delicious.

I'm trying to be careful, not touching too much, lots of hand washing.  There's a quilt draped over my couch and one covering my bed.  I'll wash those on Tuesday along with all the clothes that I've been wearing.  I've been using a plastic cup to scoop my cat's food and I've tried not to pet him too much.  He's usually such a cranky old man and he likes his space.  For a few hours yesterday morning though, I felt like I couldn't get away from him.  He kept sitting near me- maybe a foot away.  At one point I tried to move my seat, but he just followed me.  I tried telling him, 'Hey cat!  Don't sit so close to me!  You can make yourself sick.'  He just ignored me.  He's stubborn that way.

Aside from cooking, today will be full of computers & tv, lemon drops & Gatorade. It's a rainy day in Pittsburgh, so maybe I'll take a nap too.
It's a life of luxury up in here.



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pink Hearts

I had gotten the body scan and now it was time to go get my blood drawn again.  As my mother and I walked across the street to the Falk Building, I called the husband to let him know about the earlier time.  It certainly wasn't the best news he could have gotten.  But he was pretty sure that he could round up the kiddos and get them out of the house by noon.

Once my blood was drawn, it was time to head back to nuclear medicine.  My mother and I took a detour to the cafeteria to see if there was anything I could eat before I got the RAI dose.  I had been told it was best to have something in my stomach, and I had originally expected to have a little bit of time to get something- maybe even go home to eat. The best I could find were some salads that I would have to pick through.  It felt like too much of a bother, so we just went to nuclear medicine.

They took us back almost right away.  I had to meet with a really nice woman who was the RAI safety expert.  She went over a lot of stuff that I already knew.
There were a couple of things that I asked her about though.  First of all, with the whole family out of the house, I had really hoped to get a lot of cleaning and organizing done.  Very lame, I know.  But this house has been a work in progress and, with a couple of young kids in the mix, it feels like it's perpetually a mess.  The woman who gave me my low-iodine dose yesterday actually teased me a little about it, and said I should just try to enjoy my vacation.  As dumb as it sounds though, I would enjoy my vacation more if I could get the cleaning done.  I'd feel really good about that.

Well, when I asked about it, I was told that maybe it would be a good idea if I put that off until the weekend.  Really, unless I decide to lick everything or pee everywhere (which would be so weird), it should be fine.  Especially if I wash my hands a lot.  But, to err on the side of caution, I should hold off.  I was also told to do anything in the kids' rooms on the last day or so of isolation.

My other question was about food.  Was it really ok for me to keep getting stuff in and out of the fridge?  Yes.  Well, what if I make a lasagna (ohmigodicantwait) and have leftover cheese?  Is that ok to put back?  She didn't seem too sure about that.  I was told it might not be a terrible idea to toss it.  Or use all of it in the lasagna and make it extra cheesy.  So!  I will now plan to clean out the fridge next Tuesday before everyone gets home.  It might be overkill?  But it seems hard to know for sure.

The meeting done, I was taken back to get my large dose.  It was very anticlimactic.  The people in Haz-Mat suits?  Not there.  The big-ass lead cup?  Meh.  Not so big.  The pill was also not too big- the size of a Tylenol maybe.  I put on gloves, took the pill, and washed it down with water.  I had taken my anti-nausea medication one hour before.  I was told that if I did get nauseous it would probably be in the first half hour.  One minute in, so far so good.

When we pulled up in front of the house  I noticed some pink hearts drawn in chalk on the risers of our stairs.  I thought, how sweet.  The kids were drawing while they waited to leave.  When I got up to the walkway though, I saw that they had drawn and written a lot more.  In big letters, 'We miss you Mom',  'The Boy & The Girl love you Mom', and 'Family' with a picture of all of us decorated the walkway.  It was just about the best thing ever.  Totally, totally made my day.  The kids.  They rock my world.

My mom picked up her things and headed back to Baltimore.  The house was quiet.  I had been told to definitely take it easy for the first couple of days.  I made myself some matzo crackers with peanut butter & jelly, and settled down in front of the tv.  All set for some R&R.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day Zero

The day started off with good-byes.  The boy was sad and near tears.  I've never been apart from the kids-or the husband- for this long of a period.  Maybe two days tops?  But six nights is definitely the longest amount of time.  Of course, the girl didn't know what was going on, but she knew something was up.  As my mother and I got ready to walk out the door she toddled over, threw her arms up in the air and yelled, 'Mamaaaa!'  I gave her one more hug, but I still felt terrible as I walked out the door.

We got to the hospital and headed to radiology for my scan.  It was a little different than the breast scan, but not too much.  This time, the side of the machine (it still looked like a 'cabinet door') that I saw was black with several thin white lines on it.  The woman informed me that they would scan my head, neck, and chest first.  It would take about ten minutes.  The room was dim and it was just after 8 AM.  The machine was close to my face, but not really uncomfortable.  I closed my eyes. I had stayed up too late with the husband the night before.  I wasn't fully awake.

Next came the body scan.  First, they send the machine along the length of your body fairly quickly.  This trains the machine so it knows how close it can get to you.  Then, they start the scan.  It goes much slower.  The woman said that it goes so slowly, sometimes people don't even realize that the scan is happening and they get impatient and ask for the scan to start.  yeesh.  I know these people are sick and might not feel well, but between that and freaking out about cup sizes, maybe some of these people just need to chill.

The scan took maybe another ten minutes.  Then we were sent down the hall to wait for the doctor.  He would come in and discuss the results of the scan.  We waited a long time.   Like half an hour.  My mother was convinced that they had forgotten about us.  I didn't really care- where else did I have to go?  We were scheduled to be in Oakland all day until 1:00 PM.  It just didn't matter.

The doctor and a resident finally came in.  Turns out the results were pretty good.  They only detected remaining thyroid cells in the thyroid cavity- where my thyroid used to be until this past May.  They weren't anywhere else, so it didn't look like anything had spread.  So, awesome.  The only other thing that they saw was a very faint, small dot in my chest area.  He was pretty convinced that it was saliva in my esophagus.  Apparently that happens, like 10-15% of the time.  It might even still be there next week when I get my follow up.  He wasn't concerned, but said that they would keep an eye on it.

He went over a lot of stuff that I already knew about the radioactive iodine (RAI) dose.  One thing he mentioned that was new was when to go off the diet.  Everyone, (including the safety expert I would meet with later), said that I could go off my diet 24 hours after I received the RAI.  He said that was fine, if I really couldn't wait.  However, he always felt that it was better to wait just a little bit longer, and he would recommend that I not go off the low-iodine diet until Friday morning.  gah.  What a drag.  His view was, since the thyroid cells stop absorbing the RAI as soon as you start eating food with iodine in it (cold iodine, he called it), it's better to give the thyroid cells as much time as possible to absorb the RAI.  Fine.  I can wait one more day for cheese.  I guess.

To wrap up, I was told that a RAI dose of 150 mci had been decided upon.  Both he and my endocrinologist felt that was best.  Also, my dose time was moved from 1:00 PM to noon.  Someone had a meeting and they were trying to get everything done earlier.  The family would have to leave town a little sooner than expected.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Getting Ready

My appointment this morning wasn't until 10:30, and it was only for a Thyrogen shot.  I couldn't justify parking in the garage for that.  I can be pretty cheap about parking.  I'll drive around and around neighborhoods looking for street parking to avoid meters or garages.  Near the hospitals though, there's not much opportunity for that.  I parked at a meter roughly a block away and went to get my shot. 

The guy assured me that he remembered me from the day before, but he had to ask for my name and birthdate anyway.  'Who would come in two days in a row for a shot in the butt if they didn't have to?', he joked.  Yeah.  I guess so.

The way back to the car was all uphill.  And a steep hill at that.  The whole way up I walked by person after person smoking cigarettes.  I can't remember the last time I saw so many people in one place smoking.  Doctors, patients, maintenance workers, nurses, visitors, all up and down Lothrop St.  I even passed a meter maid taking a long drag while she wrote a ticket.  How could all these people smoke and manage that fucking hill every day?  It was crazy.  I have a few friends who still smoke and I'm fine with it, but I'm amazed at how many people still smoke.  The cost alone would have made me quit by this point.

I went back in the afternoon for an appointment with nuclear medicine.  The woman who took me back was really nice.  She was there to talk with me about my scan the next day.  She also had a low dose of iodine to give me.  It was for the scan, so they would be able to see where thyroid cells still were in my body.  The hope would be that everything was taken out and that nothing had spread.  This iodine was equivalent to the amount of radiation you might get on an airplane.  Totally safe to be around everyone.  Unlike the dose I would get Wednesday.  I was told not to worry when I saw the 'big-ass' lead cup that my large dose would be presented in.  'Some people freak out about the size,' I was told.  Honestly, I was just highly amused that she used the phrase big-ass with me.  I guess it's good that I don't look like someone who would be offended by that phrase?  Or maybe she doesn't care and says that to everyone anyway.

The rest of the day was spent getting ready for isolation.  The boy and I went grocery shopping together.  I bought lots of cheese.  Ohmigod, how I miss the cheese.  And the bread.  But I think I miss the cheese more.

We went home and tried to work on laundry, packing, all those things you need to do before you go away on a trip.  The husband would be taking off with the kids while I was at the hospital the next day.  It felt very strange.  I was going to miss them terribly.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Nerves

At some point over this past weekend, I started to get anxious about the week ahead.  As happy as I was that the week was finally here and that I would get to actually have the treatment over with, there was also a feeling that it was finally here.  How painful would it be?  How exhausting?  How nauseating?  Of course, my large dose isn't until Wednesday.  But I was still worried about the beginning of the week.  Shots!  Hospitals!  gah.

So, for all my weekend build up, today was fairly anti-climactic. 

My mother arrived last night.  Part of the reason that she's here is to hang out with the kids while I go to my appointments.  So, I took off for the hospital by myself this morning, and on the way indulged in a little Hello Nasty at top volume.  Nothing like some Beastie Boys at 8:30AM to calm my nerves and kick off a week of medical appointments.  I got to the hospital just in time.  It started off with a blood draw.  They were testing several different things, but the most important seemed to be the pregnancy test.

I learned something from the phlebotomist today.  If you need to have your blood drawn, be sure to drink some water before you go.  Even a little bit of dehydration- like I had today from only drinking black coffee before the appointment- can make it difficult to find good veins for the draw.  It had me worried, but it wasn't nearly as terrible as the phlebotomist led me to believe.  I prepared myself for her stabbing me over and over because she couldn't find a vein.  Then it ended up no worse than any other blood draw that I've ever had.

I had to stick around for an hour just for the pregnancy test results.  I understand why they can't just take your word for it, but seriously.  Not at all pregnant.  sigh.  I knew that I'd be there for a while today though, so I brought and started reading Cleopatra.  (I'm only about twenty pages in, but so far, a good read.  The author is certainly sympathetic to her subject.)

Of course, the results came back negative for pregnancy.  Shortly after the results were in I was called back to receive my first Thyrogen injection.  For no good reason, I went back with the mindset that this was going to be awful!  And painful!  I was getting the shot in my ass, further convincing me that this was going to suck...

And then it was over.  Honestly, barely felt it.  I mentally rolled my eyes at myself.  All that worry?  Seriously?  I think I'm just on edge about the week ahead.  All the doctor's appointments, the large RAI dose on Wednesday, my family leaving me for a week.  It will all be fine, and I know this, but that doesn't mean that it's not stressing me out .


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

LID

Yesterday was day one for me on the low-iodine diet.  I won't go into all the restrictions- you can find a complete list of them here. I'll tell you what I've been eating, and what I plan to eat.  It hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be.  Maybe a little bland, but that's my fault since you can have most herbs and spices.  I should really be trying to get more creative.

Breakfast has been good, actually.  Probably my favorite meal of the day.  Oatmeal with cinnamon and blueberries.  I miss having a little milk in my coffee, and I find that I drink less of it when it's black.  Maybe I'm more tired and cranky than usual?  I can't really decide.  Maybe the kids are just making me crazy and the extra caffeine wouldn't help me anyway.

Lunch has been the same for the past two days.  A green salad with tomatoes and chicken, with olive oil, vinegar, and pepper.  Tastes good, but not overly filling.  I've been having fruit with it.  Today I also had some carrots with unsalted peanut butter.  That was actually way more delicious than what I expected.  The peanut butter was by Golden Organics and it was delicious.  So creamy, that I didn't miss the salt at all.

Yesterday I also snacked on raw cashews- definitely need to be spiced up.  I was not expecting them to be so bland and chewy.  I found a recipe for roasting them in the oven with some spices.  I may try that tomorrow, or I may just make cashew hummus.  I also snacked on matzoh crackers- very bland and I will be spreading peanut butter (or cashew hummus?) on them from here on out.

Last night for dinner I had chicken, chard, and a peeled potato mashed with a little sweet curry powder.  It was ok.  Part of my problem is that I don't usually eat chicken anyway, and I'm remembering now that I don't actually like it that much.  My husband cooked up a couple of chicken breasts for me though, and I feel like I need to finish them.  The diet limits you to 6 ozs. of fresh meat a day, so I probably won't finish the chicken until tomorrow.  I might try turkey meat for the rest of the diet instead.  I don't know that I can rely on egg whites and unsalted peanut butter for my sole protein sources.

Tonight it's an egg white omelet with some spinach- I may skip the chicken.  Thankfully you can still drink on this diet.  It would be sad indeed if I couldn't wash this stuff down with a glass of wine. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

I Scream

To get ready for my radioactive iodine treatment, I need to go on a low-iodine diet.  I'll be starting that tomorrow, Tuesday.  There is a lot that you can't have on a low-iodine diet.  So, what I wanted to do this past weekend was go out to dinner and enjoy some food that I won't be able to eat while I'm on the diet.

We went out Saturday night.  We decided to get some Indian food in Oakland.  We headed over to Atwood Street, which has lots of great ethnic restaurants, including this one, which is our favorite place in the city to grab Indian food.  It's always good and it's a pretty easy place to take the kids.  Parking along Atwood was no problem, because it's early August, and the Pitt students haven't come back yet for the new school year.

The food was delicious.  The husband got chicken curry, the boy got Tandoori chicken, and I got palak paneer, which I almost always get.  Very predictable.  We also split orders of naan and a vegetarian platter.  The girl ate a little bit off of everyone else's plate, but mostly had rice.  Toward the end of dinner she started to get restless.  I walked her to the front of the restaurant a couple of times, but the guys were still eating and she was starting to get shrieky.  We went outside.

It was a really nice night, very warm and summery.  The shop next to India Garden recently became a Latino market, and there was a bunch of guys outside eating taquitos from a cart.  The husband came outside, we threw our leftovers in the car, and then walked up the street to my most favorite ice cream shop anywhere.

A million years ago, when I worked in Oakland, stopping at Dave & Andy's was a big deal.  I love their ice cream, I love the shop, and I'm so glad that I get to share it with my kids now.  The guys got cookies & cream, and the girl and I split some strawberry shortcake.  Big chunks of strawberries and bits of shortbread cookie.  Serious perfection.  Just like the whole evening.


When we got back to the car the boy said, 'Well family, I had a great time tonight.  How about you all?'  Agreed.  It was most excellent.

Two Doors Down

I had a difficult time this spring keeping my perspective.  Between the cancer diagnosis, and then the revelation of the BRAF mutation, I did a good bit of feeling sorry for myself. Cancer is a powerful word, and it packs a mean punch. Even if you know that your cancer is one of the easiest to cure, and that you stand a greater chance of survival than most, it's hard not to worry and think about worst case scenarios. That changed for me in the middle of June.

I was taking a walk with the girl when we ran into a neighbor. During our conversation, she mentioned how badly she felt for the family that lived two doors down from us. I told her I didn't know what she was talking about. 'Oh,' she said, 'he has cancer. I can't remember what kind. Skin cancer, maybe? But he's really sick. He came to the block party and only stayed for like, two minutes. He looked awful.'

Two things crossed my mind. One, I was really glad that we had hardly told anyone about my cancer. This family didn't need to hear that someone in the neighborhood also had cancer, but that she was going to be just fine. And, two, this news was terrible. We're friends with only a few of our neighbors, and we don't know this family well at all. What I did know was that he was younger than us (39, as it turns out), and that he has a wife and three young kids- roughly eight, six, and two years old. It was terrible.

Over the last six weeks, anytime I have started to feel badly about my situation, I have thought of him and the pain he has had to go through.  Not just physically, but emotionally.  How many times did he look at his sons and think about not watching them grow up, think about the times he wouldn't get to spend hanging out with his boys?  How many times did he look at his daughter and think about how he wouldn't be around to look out for her, and watch her turn into the young woman she will become?  I imagine these were the thoughts going through his mind, because they certainly went through mine before I realized how likely it was that I probably would get to do these things.  He probably never had that luxury.

Things took a turn for the worse last Monday.  He passed away that morning.  The husband thought that something must be happening because he saw a Catholic priest go to their house Sunday night and leave about ten minutes later.

My next door neighbor called me the following day to tell me the news.  At first I wasn't sure about going to the funeral home.  We really weren't more than neighbors and I would have to have the girl with me at the funeral home.  Also, I'm really not a fan of viewings.  I was raised Catholic, and I've been to maybe ten or twelve viewings in my lifetime.  My Methodist grandfather had a memorial service- honestly I think those are a much better way to go.  However, I ended up changing my mind Tuesday morning.  He was a neighbor and I decided that the very least I could do was pay my last respects.

The place was packed, but we were still in and out in ten minutes.  I signed the guest book, knelt  at his coffin, and spoke with his wife.  I didn't know anyone else there.  I came home and made myself a drink.  The summer afternoon had been sunny and pleasant.  Not at all what it should have been like for a young father who lost his life to an aggressive cancer.  Later, I ran into neighbors who had also gone to the funeral home.  They had also felt they need for a drink when they left.  As my neighbor said, 'It just stinks'.





Sunday, August 5, 2012

Another Step Forward

Tuesday morning went so much more smoothly.  It was amazing.  I knew how to navigate the garage and the hospital.  I didn't need to ask anyone for directions.  I got to my appointment on time.  Knowing where you're going makes life a hell of a lot easier.

I sat in the waiting room and realized that I was feeling a little nervous.  I was pretty sure that I was no longer lactating, but I had just enough doubt.  What if I still was and we had to re-schedule the treatment, postpone everything?  It would be such a  hassle- the husband would have to rearrange things with work and his parents.  The boy might even be back in school.  What a mess.

I put it out of my mind when the tech came out to get me.  He was pretty friendly, although he did make a point to tell me that the doctor would want to talk with me after my breast scan, and she was pretty chatty.  Of course, she was chatty because she was the only female doctor in the department.  heh.  He seemed like a nice enough guy otherwise, though, so I thought it would be best to let this one slide.

He took me into the imaging room.  I had to lay down on a sort of bed.  It looked like it would slide into what was maybe an MRI machine?  But I wasn't there for a full body scan.  Just my boobs.  So, no sliding into a machine for me.  'This will come close to you, but I promise it won't hit you,' I was told, as a big piece of metal came at me slowly.  It looked like a thick, metal cabinet door.  I laid there for ten minutes while it took images of my breasts from the front.

Next it was time for side images.  Two metal doors slid down on either side of me.  I had to put my arms above my head.  I lay there looking at the metal slabs, wondering how they were taking images of the inside of my breasts.  These weren't x-rays and I couldn't see a camera.  Obviously they were able to take images because of the iodine.  I just had no idea how.

When it was over, the tech was ready to take me down to the doctor's office so she could go over the results with me.  You get the results immediately, which is great.  Before we could leave the room though, the doctor appeared. She told me that everything looked good.  'There's very little iodine, so it's safe to proceed with your treatment as planned.'  And that was it.  Was that what passed for chatty in this department?  Must be pretty quiet around here.

As the tech walked me back to the waiting room he said he'd only ever seen one test come back positive, and he was pretty sure that the woman hadn't actually stopped breastfeeding.  'Really, if you stop six weeks before like they tell you to, you should be ok.'  True that.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Inside Out

When I left Radiology Monday morning, I had been urged to call the woman at Nuclear Medicine. Apparently, she really needed to finish going through some paperwork with me. Funny, because when I got home I had an email from Dr. E's nurse telling me the same thing. The woman at Nuclear Medicine told her that she had tried to contact me several times and I wasn't returning her calls.

This wasn't true and I hate being accused of something that I didn't do. I know it's cliche, but I'm a big believer in taking responsibility for my actions. So when someone thinks I did something that I didn't do, I get rather indignant. Because I would so totally own up to it if I did do it.

Anyway, me and my rotten attitude called the woman at Nuclear Medicine. She answered the phone right away. When I told her who I was she said she'd been trying to get in touch with me, and that she had left me messages in June and July. 'I don't know what numbers you called, but I never got the messages at home or on my cell.' I was bracing myself for her to give me a hard time, but she didn't. Clearly she had better things to do than argue with me over missed phone messages.

Actually, she ended up being very nice for the rest of our conversation. First she walked me through the calendar, letting me know what would happen when. The good news was that I wouldn't have to go off my thyroid meds at all during the treatment. I'd read where people had to go off of their Synthroid and it just added to their misery. I had also been prescribed an anti-nausea medication, Ondansetron, because the radioactive iodine (RAI) will often make people sick. I would bring this with me, take it an hour before getting my RAI dose, and then continue to take it every 6-8 hours for the first 24 hours of my treatment.

Other things to remember once I'd received the RAI- wash hands frequently, shower daily, and drinks lots of fluids. Even Gatorade, which I never drink, but they want patients to avoid getting sick from drinking too much water. Also, about 24 hours after I receive the RAI, I'm supposed to start sucking on Lemon Drops, or some other type of sour candy,  and continue for at least three days. This will stimulate my salivary glands and, hopefully, prevent the iodine from settling in there and causing future problems. Fun! But it did remind me of this:


I do love me some Mighty Lemon Drops.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Fashionably Late

Dr. E's nurse had told me that she would have the woman at Nuclear Medicine confirm the dates of my breast scan by July 27. When I didn't hear from her I started to worry. Of course, this happened to me at 4 PM on a Friday, because I can't possibly worry about things in a timely manner.

First I tried calling Dr. E's office, but I needed to 'know my extension' and I didn't have that information in front of me. Then I tried calling the woman at Nuclear Medicine, but I only got her voice mail. Her office hours ended at 4:30, so I didn't bother leaving a message. There was practically no chance I'd hear from her before the weekend. Then I did something crazy- I read the fucking paperwork that Nuclear Medicine had sent me.

And that is where the information about my breast scan was. Right there on the first page. Of course, everything was dated chronologically, except for those two dates, making it sort of easy to miss. But it was there. I had to be there the following Monday and Tuesday mornings at 9 AM. This meant a panicked phone call to the husband to see if he could go in late to work on those days (he could). And another panicked phone call to a parent at my son's school. We had a school-related meeting scheduled at 9 AM on Monday. I told her that I would be late. Totally fine. No problem.

Monday morning I left in what I thought was plenty of time to get to Oakland. There were a few things I didn't count on. First, 8:30 AM traffic sucks. At least on Fifth Ave. Second, I was parking in a different garage than I had for my last few doctor appointments in Oakland. I parked in the hospital garage, but it took a few floors to find parking and I was completely on the other side of the garage from the elevators. Finally, when I got off the elevators, I had no clue where I was. I stopped at an information desk. They explained how to get to another information desk, where they could tell me how to get to Radiology. gah. The first leg of my journey involved a pedestrian walkway between hospitals? I think. And a set of elevators.

When I got to the second information desk, the very friendly lady told me to take another set of elevators then 'it's a right, straight, right, and you're at Radiology!'. Only that was wrong. It was a left, straight, right. I found that out because I went the wrong way first.

So, I was fifteen minutes late to my appointment. Being a Monday morning and all, the waiting room was packed. I sat and watched lots of people get called in before me. Even people who had checked in after me. Clearly, I thought, I am being punished for showing up late. Which meant I sort of just had to suck it up. Finally, after forty five minutes, a guy came out to get me.

We walked back to a room where I was left to sit while he went to get the iodine. When he came back there it was, in two small capsules. It was a low dose. I would take the iodine and when I came back the next day, they would take images of my breasts to see how much iodine was taken up. If it was a lot, that would tell them that I was still lactating. But if it was little to none (what I was hoping for) that would mean treatment could proceed.

So that was it! Lost for fifteen minutes, waiting for forty five, all so I could spend two minutes with a guy I just met while I took two low dose iodine capsules. What a perfect start to the week.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Upping the dose

So, when I was sent the results of my thyroid test, I was totally clueless as to what the numbers meant. And then I felt really stupid.

These were the numbers I received:

Comment- TSH/Thy.Stim.Horm
Your result- 12.65
Standard range- 0.40-4.50

I realized that I had no idea if a high number meant hyperthyroid or hypothyroid (turns out it's hypothyroid). I had to know so I looked it up. Then I got a call later that day from my doctor's office explaining the results and letting me know that my Synthroid dose would be going up to 125 mcg.

I thought, this will be great. I'd already been feeling pretty good on 100 mcg, so I thought I would be feeling even better on 125 mcg. Strangely, that wasn't the case. I felt more tired and more bloated than I had before. By the time we finished dinner every evening I was exhausted. Clothes that had fit me pretty well at the beginning of the summer were starting to get tight (I realize this could also have been a side effect of weaning). I couldn't believe that I felt worse. I tried looking it up online to see if it was normal. Maybe it was just my body adjusting to a new dosage? I couldn't find any information one way or another.

This went on for about a week. Then one morning I woke up feeling more like myself again. My energy level is now (mostly) back to normal and I'm feeling a little less bloated than I had been. I don't think I'm 100% yet, which I'm going to guess means I'm still hypothyroid. I have an appointment at the end of August to follow up on my Synthroid dose. Maybe they'll bump it up again and I'll feel even better.

Sitting In the Waiting Room

The first week of July marked six weeks since I first received my Synthroid prescription. For a while I will need to go every six weeks and get a blood test to make sure the dosage is correct. It was time for my first test.

I had both kids with me. The boy is usually pretty great at being a big brother, and I told him I would need him to watch his sister while I had the blood work done. The last time I had blood work done, I took her by myself and it was awful. She screamed so loud watching me get blood drawn, that people in the waiting room thought that she was the patient. I was hoping to avoid that this time.

The waiting room was packed, and people were grumbling that they had been waiting for a long time. I was determined to get my blood work done that morning though, The boy started camp the following week and I didn't want to bring the girl by myself again. The kids were pretty good about playing together and staying entertained. And I'd been smart enough to bring snacks- something I don't always remember to do.

A woman two seats over from me was watching my kids. She looked like she was in her fifties? Maybe younger. She had an 80's hairdo and a raspy smoker's voice. Her name was Tina. She commented on what a good brother the boy was, and how nice he was with his sister. It was true. I thanked her. 'My older brother always looked out for me too,' she said. 'Of course, I fell in with the wrong crowd in junior high. It was all over for me then. I got into drugs and it took me a long time to get out. I really let my family down.' So sad. And yet, at the same time, way more than I needed to know while I had my kids with me waiting for a blood test! I nodded sympathetically and hoped that they would call Tina in soon, since she was there before me.

A couple of people couldn't wait anymore, so they left, which meant a shorter wait, eventually. Tina took a call from her boyfriend and argued with him, loudly. When she hung up she apologized to everyone in the waiting room. 'He just makes me so mad sometimes!' Right then. No one took the bait and asked her what was wrong. Most people stared at the walls. I watched my kids.

Finally, an employee who had been on an early lunch break came back. The other employee was happy to see her. 'My last patient passed out back there half an hour ago!' she said. 'I've been waiting for you to get back and help out here.' So. We were all sitting around because someone passed out. Because they don't like needles? Or blood? It just seemed like the office should have had a better way to deal with that. Since most of their business is drawing blood.

When it was finally my turn, the girl wouldn't let me out of her sight. The boy had to come back with us and try to distract her while they took my blood. She screamed like crazy the whole time. I kept apologizing to the phlebotomist. The passed out guy was probably a picnic compared to us. My blood drawn, I hurried my kids out of there. I'm sure no one was sad to see us go. The boy had been so awesome all morning, that I took him out for lunch afterward and he got chocolate chip pancakes and that was just fine. He totally earned those pancakes.