Saturday, August 11, 2012

Minor side effect

  I had another follow-up appointment on Friday. My incision is healing great. They drew blood to check my calcium, and I should know for sure how that is on Monday, but all indications say those levels are increasing like they should. This is all great news!
On the down side, I have an acid reflux problem now. :-( I have had a cough since the surgery. I was told this is normal, since fluids settle in the lungs while you're under anesthesia. So I didn't think much of it, except that it didn't go away.
Friday was a month exactly since my second surgery. I've come so far in such a short time that it feels wrong to complain. But my cough has been driving me nuts. So the first thing I asked was when it would go away. The doctor was surprised that it hadn't yet, so he looked (SO glad I was seeing the ENT specialist when this issue came up!) in my throat and said it was acid reflux. I learned 2 things at that appointment. 1) You don't always have discomfort and burning with acid reflux (I haven't) and 2) I CAN say, "eeeeee" while someone is holding my tongue with a piece of gauze and telling me to keep my mouth open wide. You should try it sometime, it's not easy.
So now I have a prescription for the reflux (which I haven't picked up yet...I'm annoyed at more medication, even though I know it's for my benefit. Unreasonable, I know, but it's just one of those things that get under my skin.) and a list of things I should and shouldn't do; don't eat less than 3 hours before bed time, sleep with my head elevated (one of those wedges would be nice, but I don't have one, so pillows are being manipulated), stay away from tomatoes and spicy foods (like that's going to happen!), take a tums after each meal (except breakfast, because I can't have calcium until at least 4 hours after I take my thyroid pill) and 2 right before bed, stay away from soft drinks (which I haven't really wanted since surgery anyway, for some unknown reason. At least that one is easy for me to follow)...there might be more, but I can't remember. He have me a list, which is good since I can't remember much of anything these days.
The reflux is related to the loss of the vocal nerve. Apparently now those muscles that held the acid down aren't working as well as normal, so I'm getting acid burns in my throat & on my vocal cords & that's what's irritating me enough to make me cough all the time.  And I do mean all the time.  When I wake up, when I lay down, when I talk for more than 3 or 4 sentences in a row (not exaggerating), when I yawn or breathe deeply...So. My first real side effect. Bummer.  BUT...(deep breath, as I remember not to dwell on negative things), still a small price to pay. Even in the world of side effects that come from cancer and cancer treatment, this is so small. And hopefully between the medicine that I will take (even though I hate being dependant on pills) and whatever guidelines I can follow without going nuts, this will come under control. I asked if it would get better as my body heals more completely, and he said he didn't know. I'm glad he was honest with me. No false hopes...but we can pray, and that is better than any pill.  Now I'm off to sleep, and looking forward to worshiping with my church family in the morning! I love you all. Thank you for your continued prayers. I hope tomorrow finds you joining a local church for worship as well.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

  It's been a little while since I've written, but that's not for lack of things to say. It's just...some of you will understand this, and some of you won't, but I'm just going to plow ahead regardless...a lot of people have a limit on how much they can care. Everyone asks, and everyone thinks they care...but really, what they want is good news. Now, in a way, that really is love. They're asking because they want me to be ok. And I'm ok with that. I have been given a gift in the form of friends who can handle the details, so I'm able to be ok with those who can't. And in this time of waiting and healing and adjusting, it's hard to know what to say to people. So we say, "things are going well." Or, "I'm healing, and the doctors are really pleased with my progress." Or, "I have a lot more energy than I did last week, and I'm thankful for that." And whoever we're taking to will smile and comment on how thankful they are and maybe give a hug or mention that they have been praying for me and they move on, very happy with the report. And it's a good, honest report...but the truth is also that I'm not out of the woods yet. And this waiting that we have to go through before my radiation is deceptive. I look fine, I'm feeling better every day. But in a couple months I'm going to feel like crap (from everything I've read on thyroid radiation treatment), and that will be before the treatment even begins. Not to mention all the information that I'm trying to process about cancer in general, and my cancer specifically. I received a packet in the mail from the American Cancer Society. My first thought was, "oh, good, now I will really be able to understand what happened to my body." No such luck. They don't know why most cancers grow, or how they start...cancer is almost as unique as the person who has it. Which makes sense, right? If your cells mutate, they're not going to be exactly like my mutated cells, because your healthy cells aren't exactly like my healthy cells.
  I'm getting a little off-track here, which is what happens when I go too long without spilling my thoughts. :-)
  All this to say, sometimes it's frustrating to talk to people, because there's so little new to say. And yet my household is still on high alert. My dear husband has the hardest time. Last week when someone asked him how I was doing, he said, "Well, she has cancer!" I laughed out loud when he told me. It probably confused whoever he was taking to, but it's the most honest thing he could say. So, yes, I'm doing well. But I haven't been given a clean bill of health. I still have steps to go through. And I don't know what the future holds. I have doubts that things will be "normal" (as in, how most other thyroid cancer patients progress). I'm not stressed over these things, but life is not (nor will it ever be) the same. And in times like these, we are motivated to act. So I wanted to share, not only how I have been feeling, but also what I have been doing. I hope you're getting used to my long-windedness, because I don't know any other way to write. :-D
  In addition to what my doctors have me doing (surgery, thyroid med, calcium supplements, and eventually radiation), we have looked into "natural" healing. One of my readers commented on the benefits of juicing. At the time, I had too much going on to respond, but that is one thing we have been doing since the day I came home from the hospital. There will probably be no way of knowing if what we're doing actually makes a difference in ME or not, but there has been enough study done to convince me that it's worth the effort to try. So carrots and apples don't last long around here anymore. I've juiced all sorts of things, looking for great taste and health benefits specifically geared toward cancer fighting. Pineapple tastes wonderful, even when you toss in carrots and raw spinach. Just in case you were wondering. Also, we're drinking filtered water. Not bottled, and not your standard store-bought filter. There's a whole water filtration system that adds oxygen (a cancer killer) and raises the ph level of your water (another deterant to cancer growth). My parents "happened" (I love how God has paved my road ages ahead of the time for me to travel it!) to have bought this machine a while back, so Brad bought a water cooler with a 5 gallon jug and we fill it at my mom & dad's and drink very little other than that water. Soft drinks are only a special treat, and even iced tea hasn't been around for a while. The kids have milk and water. Brad and I have juice and water. These two things alone have helped my digestive system a lot. And I'm not nearly as hungry as I used to be. I know a lot of that is because of the surgery, but I also think part of it is because of the nutrients I'm getting from the juice. I don't have cravings anymore, and I don't have a desire to overeat. I've lost at least 12 pounds since surgery.
  The last thing we've done is to go organic. Ok, I know I lost a lot of you with that word. But it's something I'm able to do right now, and because I'm able to, I feel like I should. There are so many things put into our food before it ever gets to the store, and that can't be good for us. So there's a company that provides organic food straight to your door, and we're taking advantage of the opportunity. There is no way I could afford to shop organic at a local grocery store, but this company created a plan that fits into the budget we already had for food, so (again) God supplied our need.
  So there you are, slightly updated on my emotions and actions. I know people are reading this who are going through what I am going through, and probably more who will read it again when their time of difficulty comes. My prayer is that you are encouraged. It's ok to be frustrated and have "down" days (but don't live there!). And it's ok to take action and improve your lifestyle to give yourself the best chance at a recovery. I am open to comments and questions on the changes we've made. A discussion could be beneficial to many people.
  And now that I've told you how I'm doing, you don't have to ask Brad...because there's no telling what he'll say next! I love that man for the way he makes me laugh. :-D