Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Whistle Shot

I checked into the hospital for my dose of RAI 131 at 9 a.m.  Unfortunately, Nuclear Medicine cannot admit patients to the hospital so we had to wait for ENT, who was in surgery all morning....grrrr.  The upside was, we got to take lots of pictures of the room I'd be staying in for the next 2 days.  Above is the picture of the toilet.  I forgot to take a pic of the sign that said, FLUSH 3 TIMES!!!  Everything was covered in plastic and lead.  Lots of photos inc:
The door to my lovely toilet
Lead screen behind the bed

Finally, at 2:30 p.m., after a ridiculous little neck check by ENT, Nuclear Medicine comes into the room with what looks to be a small crock pot on a rolling tray.  They open the thing and it is lined with about 4 inches of lead.  At this point, Jim Jones and his special Koolaid flash through my mind.  The tech pulls what looks to be a shot glass with one pill in it out of the crockpot with a set of jam tongs and says, "don't touch it, just throw it back and swallow."  I try to do this, but the thing is stuck.  The tech tries swirling it around in the glass, gives it back to me and it still won't come out.  So I decide to keep the glass in my mouth while flicking it with my fingers.  All I can think of were my bad days of whistle shots in TJ as the lyrics, "Jose Cuervo, you are a friend of mine.  I'd like to drink you with a little salt and lime" dance through my head.  Meanwhile, the nuke doc is at the other end of the room and the poor tech is still standing there trying to help me.  I succeed in getting 1/4 of the pill hanging out of the glass.  Exasperated and probably afraid he might become a mutant after such long exposure to the radiation, the tech says, "just pull it out with your teeth!"  I do what he tells me and we have success.  "Thank God!",  he exclaims.  I tell him all we needed were a few whistles to make the experience complete.  He says, "sadly, I know exactly what you are talking about" and laughs.  Mazel tov!

After taking the pill, I don't feel anything.  I feel completely normal except very tired and really cold.  So, I decide to go to bed at about 8:30 pm.  The next morning I wake with hugely swollen glands and look like a bullfrog.  RIBBIT.  The picture below is two days after the initial swelling.  It was much worse the first day.

Go to the previous post and you'll see what my neck normally looks like.  I am released from the hospital on Friday at about noon as my microrads are reading at 2 which is really good.  When I took the pill, they were at 21!  I am so glad to be home.  I did get the dreaded dry mouth and lost about 50% of my taste.  I've discovered a lovely side effect; an oily taste/coating in my mouth while eating.  I don't know if this is the loss of taste or some of the RAI coming out.  Anyway, the Dr. prescribed me some oral hydrocortisone and it has worked wonders with the swelling.  I've also been massaging my glands while alternating with moist heat.  It really helps with the pain and swelling too.  I am starting to get some relief from the dry mouth but the Crisco taste is still obtruding.  Today has been much better.  The weather has been a little chilly and I LOVE it!  I went for a long walk in the early evening and plan on doing the same tonight.  I went later so as to avoid other walkers.  I did pass one woman, but went about 6 feet around her into the street.  She probably thought I was crazy.

I am recovering quicker than I thought I would.  I just need to stop doubting and keep my faith in the Lord.  I know he is working miracles within me.  Fierce Faith!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Thyroid Cancer and Upcoming RAI

Where to begin?  My wonderful and turns out, life saving Primary Care Physician, found a lump on my thyroid.  She sent me to radiology for ultrasound which revealed several nodules on both sides of my thyroid.  Nothing to be concerned about.  My mom and grandmother both have Hashimoto's so it was a given I'd probably have it too.  A couple of the nodules were larger than 1 cm which is an indication for a biopsy.

During the biopsy, the attending physician was teaching a medical student and a resident.  While I was being numbed for the procedure, I felt like a circus sideshow.  I got a play by play of which needle he was using and why as well as instruction regarding jiggling the needle to obtain better biopsy results.  I actually love being a part of a teaching hospital even if it can be uncomfortable.  Those kids need to learn and I'm happy to be the guinea pig.  After numbing my neck, everybody left while the anesthetic took effect.  I was so upset.  I don't know why.  I was assured by my husband, also a physician, my PCP, and the doctor doing the procedure that it was unlikely I'd have cancer.  I had no family history, I am young, and I had several nodules.  I guess one big whopper is a bad sign.  Regardless of all the reassurance, I was panicked.  While I was alone, I distinctively felt the presence of my father, who passed several years ago, in the room.  What a comfort that was.  About a week later, I got the biopsy results - atypical cells indicating papillary cancer.  Now I know why dad was there.

A week after the biopsy, the thyroid was removed.  Surgery for a total thyroidectomy (TT) should take about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, but mine took 3 1/2.  I don't remember anything after they gave me the Versed, but when it started to kick in, my husband cried, "Mazel tov!"  I love that man.  He has the best since of humor.  I guess I begged the anasthesiologist to pray for me as well as the surgeon.  As I was wheeled off, I told the anesthesiologist, "you take care of me, you!"  Oy vay.

The surgery was more difficult than a "normal" TT.  The tumor had grown out of the thyroid bed and was inflamed and hanging on to some muscle under my collar bone - ew.  One of my lymph nodes also looked funky, according to the surgeon.  The big butterfly and lymph node were sent off to the lab for biopsy.

The hospital stay was great!  My nurses were wonderful.  Here is a picture of me with my lovely drain hanging out the side, affectionately called "the blow hole."

I didn't experience much pain, but my voice....oh my voice....was gone.  The surgeon did not nick the chords or any nerves but I could only whisper.  My vocal chords were paralyzed from the shock of the surgery.  That was the worst part of the whole ordeal.  I gained some tone to my voice but would get easily winded when talking.  Then, I would suck in air which sounded like an ancient squeeze box, to get the next sentence out.  I guess the vocal chords shut the airway when you talk.  However, when paralyzed they sort of stay halfway open.  Therefore, you don't have the strength of your voice and air goes easily out when you talk.  I couldn't cough, sniff, sneeze or clear my ears by holding my nose and blowing.  It was like my throat was one empty hole.  When I talked, I sounded like Gollum during a ring rant.  My precious.....

I stayed in the hospital for 5 days.  My calcium levels would not stabilize.  The parotid glands, which hang out behind the thyroid, help regulate calcium and can get damaged, paralyzed, or even removed during a TT.  I was told they were still there but probably stunned.  I think one got removed during the whole affair.  I must say, the hospital stay was quite nice.  I slept, and slept, and slept some more.  It was nice just to recover and sleep.

After coming home, I was put on Cytomel, which generates T3, a thyroid hormone.  We were waiting for the biopsy results before starting Synthroid.  If the biopsy was bad, the Cytomel exits the body quicker than Synthroid therefore, preparing me for Radioactive Iodine (RAI) treatment.  More on this later.  I felt really great on the Cytomel, but we did have to adjust as my TSH got around 0.02.  Normal is somewhere between 0.5 - 2.0, I believe.  At one point, I truly felt like I was unraveling.  Lots of itching skin and a massive panic attack.  I told my husband I thought I was flying over the cuckoo's nest.  We reduced the dose and I felt much better.

The scar is healing nicely.  Other than looking like a hairy gummy worm, no infection or other issues.

I even made a few necklaces to wear to Church so I didn't scare the little kids - Frakenneck

Cute huh?  I love the angel wing.  I honestly didn't have much trouble with the incision site.  The trouble began with my voice and a day alone with the kids.  What was I thinking?  Even with help, it was a catastrophe.  I was out of whisper mode but could not raise my voice at all.  It was bedlam.  Luckily, my in-laws have Amazon Prime so I ordered this bad boy which came the next day.  Would you like fries with that?

Scar is looking better, huh?  Anyway, the headset wasn't the most practical thing but it was much better than sounding like Vincent Borelli in "Casino."  Alas, vanity got the better of me and I decided not to wear it into Sprouts during a shopping excursion with my 9 year old.  Of course, he disappeared in the store and all I could do was gurgle his name as I stomped down the aisles.  The poor checker had to call his name over the loud speaker, "wandering, insensitive child, your vain mother is very agitated and looking for you!"  I wanted to strangle him when he finally showed up.  That afternoon I ordered a mic that clips to the clothing.  Its not the greatest but its working for now.  No more deadly sins for me.  I learned my lesson.  I wear that bad boy everywhere.  I don't care what I look like.

I have a consult for speech therapy with the possibility of getting a more powerful device, insurance willing.  I'm looking forward to the whole experience.  Maybe I'll come out of there an Opera singer.  As I said, the voice strength is improving as is the breathlessness.  Baby steps.

We received the pathology on the thyroid and it was no bueno.  Official diagnosis is differentiated papillary cancer with follicular variant.  The lymph node also contained papillary cancer.  Currently, I've been on a low iodine diet (LID) for a week and off all thyroid meds in preparation for RAI.  Here's the low down on RAI:  The thyroid is really the only organ that takes up iodine.  So, the idea is to starve the body of iodine for 2 weeks then give it a big whoppin' dose with a Trojan Horse of radiation.  The radioactive iodine then nukes any remaining cancer cells.  In conjunction with the LID, I have to stay off all thyroid meds, until my TSH reaches 30 or above so the therapy is most effective.

Soooo, I've been enjoying no dairy, no beans, no bread (I made my own which is okay), no soy, and no potato peels.  Yep, no potato peels, you can be jealous, its okay.  Its really not that bad.  I would liken it to the Paleo Diet.  That being said, I can't wait for a huge grilled cheese and some bacon!   Sorry, I'm not interested in the hunter/gatherer diet.

I'm going into the hospital for the first 3 days of treatment as I have little kids who could potentially be overexposed to radiation.  After, taking the RAI, the body emits X-ray type radiation which is really strong the first few days.  Here is a picture of my room.  Look a little like the bunker in "Lost?"

Lovely, isn't it?  It's better than nuking my kids though.  I can't take any electronics in with me unless I want to let the hospital keep them for 70 days until the radiation wears off.  I guess all hospitals are different regarding the protocol.  I've got some great books written by my lovely friend, Penelope King, to keep me company along with a 1000 piece puzzle.

Currently, I'm on day 7 of my journey to RAI.  I've been happily surprised at my level of energy despite not having any thyroid hormone.  I am experiencing achey joints but I've been trying to keep active as my endocrinologist says patients who are active during hormone withdrawal fare the best.  Today, I went to Church and surfed the web and truly felt terrible.  After a long walk and playing with the lils, I feel so much better.  Still achey but not cramping like I was earlier.  No hypo-hell, yet.

This has been a journey I tell ya!  I feel so blessed to have my family and wonderful ward family too, both of whom have been a huge support.  More updates to come.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

We are under construction!

Construction started on June 3rd and we are about 2 weeks away from being done.  Originally, the rooms below had no ceiling - actually they had 20 foot ceilings.  So, we decided to add a floor in between.  The new floor turned out to be about 500 square feet and two rooms.  One will be a huge playroom and the other will be my craft room - woot!  The nice thing about the addition is the older kids will have some place to go with friends and not wake up the babies (all the bedrooms are on the other side of the house).  And, the babies will have a fun playroom where I can store all their junk.  I can close the door and not have to look at it.  I'm so excited.  We are also remodeling the kitchen and the stairway, which had disgusting 20 year old white carpet.  I can't wait until this is done.  I am so grateful we could do it, but we have been living in this mess for about 2 months.  My left eye won't stop twitching...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Happy Birthday My Sweet Baby Boy

Oh my goodness do I love my little "man-baby".  Truth be told, I was upset when we discovered a little something extra on the ultrasound.  I had 3 boys already and only one girl.  I desperately wanted a sister for my little girl.  I always wanted a sister!  Anyway, I was disappointed.  I feel so guilty about that now.  He is the most wonderful little boy.  I would not switch him out for a girl if you gave me the option knowing what a great kid he is and what an amazing man he will become.  We all need more good men in the world, right?

He's not talking much yet but says "dada (he calls me that), buh buh (bye-bye) and aaaat? (that)".  Not much, but where he lacks in speech he excels in physicality.  This boy can climb anything.  He's cautious so he's not a risk taker.  He's very methodical about how he uses the humidifier to climb up and over the couch and then on to the sofa table.

The kid started walking at 8 months.  Because of that, he's pigeoned toed.  My opinion is that in-turned feet help with balance when they walk that young.  (I walked at 7 mo. and was very pigeon toed.)  He has the cutest two web toes on each foot.  And, he's humungous!  He started wearing 2 T at one year.  He has the biggest hands and feet I've ever seen on a child - seriously.   He has big fat baby legs - the best, and an enormous rear end.  You could balance a plate on that tush!

He's a total cuddle bug and loves to snuggle with his special blanket.  He sings to himself before he goes to sleep.  He loves to annoy his sister by taking her special blanket and running away with it.  If you run after him, he gets super excited, screeches, then pitches the contraband before you can get it from him.  When he wants something really badly, his hands shake like the cat in Cinderella.

He loves to go places and be outside.  If you leave a door open, he goes straight for it.  He loves to play with any type of ball.  He enjoys playing at the park and is not afraid to go down the slide.  He loves other children and is completely enamored with his siblings as they are with him.

I am completely in love with my little man.  He is a calm and easy going little soul.  I am so thankful the Lord has blessed and entrusted our family with this sweet spirit.

As usual, we went to Disneyland to celebrate his birthday.  We stayed at the Grand Californian - so stinkin' awesome.  We had so much fun!  Disneyland is always a great way to celebrate almost anything.  I hope you enjoy the pics.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Well-Lived Life

*Sigh*  The well-lived life....  Is it possible?  I wonder.  So, I made a list during lecture in my Bible study class (ADD strikes) about what it would take for me to believe I have lived a "well-lived life".

Here's my list:

1.   Daily scripture study with the kids - have been tanking on this one for sure

2.   Holding FHE every week - ummm nope 

3.   Attending Church every week - sketchy sometimes

4.   Service - meh

5.   Teach kids life lessons with a heavenly perspective in mind - *crickets*

6.   Exercising - HAHA!!!  Although, I've taken 3 Pure Barre classes and am trying to stick w it

7.   Eating healthy - sort of besides the enormous portions of pasta - go carbs!

8.   Organizing my "house" - e.g. not missing appointments, kids games and activities, keeping things in their proper place like car keys - missing half a brain when it comes to this stuff

8.   Cooking regularly with a meal plan - ughh... the bane of my existence.  Cooking daily is a nasty chore for me which I completely stink at.  Beep boop beep boop... take-out anyone?

9.   Personal scripture study - doing better here but only b/c I feel like a loser if I don't do my lesson for Bible study class

10.  Homeschool - yes, I'm the weirdo who homeschools her kids.  I think I do okay but that's only b/c my kid doesn't need much teaching since he's in high school

11.  Being patient with husband and kids - PUH-LEEZ

12.  Personal time - to do whatever the heck I want!  I do pretty good here because I'm selfish like that

Is it possible?  Am I crazy?  Can it be done?  Here are my thoughts:  Maybe a few people exist in the world who can actually do this with out being stark-raving mad.  But, I do about 3 or 4 of those things on my list, but how do I do them all?  LAYERS and serious prayer!  One thing at a time with God's strength.  I've decided to pick something and work on it.  Most people fail miserably when they try to do too much at one time.  E.g. the out-of-shape 40 year old woman who tries to do P90x after just having a baby... ahem.  Layering with the Lord's help is the key.  One thing at a time until its a habit.  It takes approximately 66 days to form a habit.  So, my approach is to tackle one thing at a time, pray fervently that He helps me maintain it, until it is a habit.  Then, move to the next goal and then the next, until I can look at my life and say, "I am living the well-lived life."

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Diapers Part 2

Wow, two posts in the same month.  I'm doing good!  These are the diapers I made for baby boy.  I had to tweak a few things but mostly it was easy.  I discovered that the pattern from the book was larger than I anticipated.  I made a couple of large size diapers thinking they would fit, but they were WAY too large.  He is growing so fast.  I have no doubt he will be in them soon.

I still have gobs of fabric to make more (I went a little crazy buying all the cute PUL fab).  For now, we have plenty of diapers until he outgrows the medium sized ones.  Yesterday was the first time in over a month we bought paper diapers.  Too awesome!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Since making a quilt for my baby boy's crib, I've been intrigued by the process.  Actually, I love it.  I am still making clothes but lately, I have made a few quilts.  Nothing too big yet (I've got a queen size quilt in the works) but fun to snuggle up with on the couch or let the kids roll around in.  I made the one below from a free tutorial at Cluck Cluck Sew here.  She has the best tutorials!

Whatcha think?