Thursday, September 09, 2010

Catching Up - Health Edition

So, it seems that it's been nearly a month since I posted anything here. I guess I should back up and fill everyone in on what has been happening the past few weeks with my health mess.
I left all of you on the day before my radiation was to happen. The next morning, Jes and the kids too me to the hospital and dropped me off. I was then ushered to my plastic covered room
Yes, you read that right. Everything that I could possibly come into contact with was covered in plastic. There was even plastic sheeting underneath my sheet on my bed. Nice and homey, huh?
I was told to be at the hospital at 9am, but when I got there I was informed that I was not going to be given my treatment until 1pm. Fun times. So I waited around, ate a bit of lunch, ala Presbyterian Hospital (yum) and watched a bit of bad daytime tv.
Around 11, I was consulted by the head of radiology on what could potentially happen during the treatment. Basically, what we were hoping for was that the radioactive iodine would go to all the thyroid cells, wherever they may be, and kill them. In the body, the thyroid cells are the only ones who take up iodine, be it radioactive or not, so this type of iodine would just zap them and kill them.
After I took the radioactive iodine pills, everyone rushed (practically running) out of my room and that was the last contact that I had with an actual person for nearly 48 hours. I would see a nurse crack the door open and peek her head in to make sure that I was ok and they would bring me my meals. This process was somewhat comical with the nurse peeking her head in and me walking to the door to grab the tray from her as she ran off down the hall.
As for the symptoms that I had, let's just say that nothing that I was warned of was what I experienced. I was very sick to my stomach and could not eat most of what was sent to me (remember that I went from eating a diet of mainly fruits and vegetables to anything I wanted). It was all just too heavy. In fact, there was a very unfortunate evening in which a perfectly lovely lasagna was involved and I will probably never be able to eat it again. Let's just leave it at that.
I knew, from my personal research, that I would be exhausted, but boy was that an understatement! I am normally a go, go, go kind of girl, constantly going and doing things that need to be done, but this literally made me feel as if someone had hit me with a truck. I was so exhausted that I couldn't even sleep. I also was super swollen from the treatment, to the point that my eyes were just slits and my jaws had the appearance of having mumps. It was super attractive. Lastly, I did, and still do, experience pain where the remaining thyroid tissue remained. I experienced pain only where my incision is, so that told me that maybe, just maybe the cancer hadn't spread.
Monday, I was left alone all day and night. Tuesday afternoon the physicist at the hospital donned her protective gear and came into my room briefly to check my radiation level to determine if I was ready to go home. My levels had to be 4.9 or below before I could leave the hospital and Tuesday it was 6. So, I was to stay another day. By Wednesday I was just miserable and begged for them to call the physicist before lunch time to check me out again. She came around 10ish and we discovered that my levels dropped to 2.7, low enough to leave and go to my parent's house. I could not be in the house with the kids as the high radiation levels could destroy their bone marrow and their developing reproductive systems. So, my parents graciously let me me hang out at their house.
Meanwhile, Jes was home with the kids all day long and going a bit crazy, so I was ready to get the show on the road and get out of there so that I could rest up for the day I was able to go back to my home, Sunday.
I spent Wednesday afternoon and Thursday hanging out with my dad and resting up.
Friday morning, I went back to my endocrinologist's office for my body scan. This was the scan that would tell us for sure if the cancer had spread, along with a blood test to be drawn the same day. The nuclear medicine tech performed the scan and it was discovered that all the cancer had been contained within my neck area. She also mentioned that my surgeon must have been amazing because she could see the bony part of my jawline, something that she rarely sees because surgeons do not do a good enough job of removing all the thyroid tissue. I just smiled at her because I knew the truth, that I had the best surgeon around!
My blood test came back about a week after my scan and it revealed that the number that needed to be low was nearly undetectable. This is very good news because it reveals that there are no thyroid cells left, which means there is no more cancer left.
It seems, for now, this mess is done. I will go back every few months and have the same blood test done and the further out from my original treatment we get the longer between blood test it will be. Eventually, I will just go back once a year for the blood test as well as monitoring of the thyroid medication that I will be on for the rest of my life.
Whew! That was a lot to type. Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes and interest in my story! I just pray that it can be used to benefit others.