Post Op/Recovery

Getting home after my surgery was awesome – I got to sleep in our new reclining love seats, which was so much more comfortable than the hospital bed, especially when you are woken up every 20 minutes. But more than anything, it was just being in my own environment again and even my kids felt more relaxed around me because it wasn’t as intimidating without all the machines and seeing me hooked up to all the wires. I get it – it can be pretty scary. Not to mention, I decorated for Christmas prior to surgery (ok, like the week or two before Thanksgiving – I don’t normally do it that early but I had a lot to get done – and I loved every minute of it). So walking into the house and seeing the Christmas tree up and having my babies crawl up beside me to watch a movie in the recliner was just such a blessing after a rough few days.

I knew the first couple of weeks would be rough but I had no clue of the reasons why. I was obviously in a lot of pain – more so from the muscles they had to clamp on the side of my neck to reach all of my lymph nodes underneath (sorry to gross anyone out). My scar didn’t hurt nearly as bad as those muscles which really surprised me – I was off the heavy pain meds after a couple days but continued to stay on the muscle relaxer for up to a couple weeks to minimize the discomfort (especially at night or anytime I would sit for long periods of time, when everything would stiffen up). I think by day 4/5 I was ready to get up and move along. My Hubby and Daddy did their best to keep me still as long as possible, but as I said before, I’m a pretty independent and can’t stand to be waited on. I was keeping track of all my meds (with help) and clearing out my drain (I won’t go into details but let me just tell you – it was disgusting and that was DEFINITELY worse than my incision). My Daddy and I would go on little field trips to get things done or run quick errands but nothing more than an hour or two knowing I would tire out easily and would need a mid-day nap. I hated them but needed them to get through the day – I always feel like I’m going to miss out on something (still like this now).

Eventually I worked myself up to staying up all day and after just shy of 2 weeks, I finally felt comfortable to try driving again. I still didn’t have 100% full range of motion in my neck but enough to where I knew I could react in the event I needed to behind the wheel. At that time my Daddy needed to fly back home and it was very sad and hard on all of us. This was the longest he’s been able to stay in a long time and got used to him being around. We were so grateful for him staying with us for those 2 1/2 weeks and managing everything (not to mention building the stands under the washer and dryer!!)!!

I thought I was going to go crazy when he left while I was still home by myself then both kids where home sick, off and on, over the next 2 weeks, so the time flew by very quickly. I ended up getting sick with the flu the weekend before going back to work (I swear this was NOT done on purpose) – by this point, I was very much ready to get back in the routine of things.

That first week of work really kicked my butt – I thought sitting at a desk wasn’t going to be a big deal at all but in fact I was more sore from sitting and my focus was worse than ever. I know I had every reason to be scatter brained but it was not the time for it – I’ve been doing my job now for almost 4 years so I’m pretty confident and feel that I can do it with my eyes closed, well not so much anymore. Since I’ve been back (which has been a month now) I’ve made more mistakes than I made in my first week starting this job. I’ve had to personally apologize to the recruiters I support for the mistakes I have made because they know this is not ok by my standards. Once again, I know they understand by I don’t want the pity party or the “oh she is going through a lot so it’s ok” – I just wanted to be able to snap back into ordinary life and it was very frustrating for me to admit that it’s ok for that not to happen.

Everyone talks about how hard it is to be diagnosed but no one talks about how hard it is to just “fit in” again. You go through days where you can’t seem to talk about anything but Cancer and what you are experiencing and thinking but other days, if someone so much as mentions it, you break down and don’t want to talk about it. It’s just such a sensitive subject sometimes. I’m thankful for the people that allow me to do both – for me to vent and for me be ordinary. It means more than you will ever know!

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Symptoms….The Daily Struggles

I think the hardest part of hearing “you have the good cancer” was not just because there is NO good cancer or that the word “good” and “cancer” should never be allowed to be in the same sentence. But because there are daily struggles that even I didn’t realize I would end up dealing with on a daily basis. I thought when I had my surgery and I had my radiation, my fight would be done. Over. But that has definitely not been the case. I’m not saying there aren’t other cases that aren’t by far more difficult, I’m just saying, mine isn’t “easy” like some might say.

Prior to finding out about my Cancer, I honestly don’t think I knew what the functions of the Thyroid was, much less where it was in my body – might sounds silly, I know. I knew I had heard many people mention they blamed their thyroid for their weight issues but I didn’t even know what that meant. But boy did I have a lot to learn!

I think one of the hardest parts of the last few months is the constant doctors appointments to figure out what a new symptom or side effect meant. I just recently started getting migraines (for the first time since High School) a few months ago – I know what a migraine feels like and these felt slightly different and by different, I mean I was losing vision in my left eye. And with my new “medical history” I talked to my Primary and he referred me to a Neurologist who conducted a MRI of the brain. They did find a small spot but they said it was consistent with those that had migraines. They also said that people that have migraines will have them come and go with their hormones – they will come around puberty, around the time you start having babies, then finally back around menopause. Makes sense. In the mean time, I am put on preventative migraine medication to hopefully get rid of these horrible migraines!! Of course we just wanted to ensure it was just a coincidence with the timing (they started about 4 weeks after being diagnosed). They did, of course, say some could be stress related as well – but hopefully that will change with time.

During the removal of your Thyroid, there are great chances of damaging or the need to remove your parathyroids. There are a total of 4, 2 on the top and 2 on the bottom near your Thyroid, which control your calcium and magnesium (among many other things in your body). I was VERY lucky that my surgeon was able to work around mine without having any issues. Sometimes, if there is any damage – they can actually chop it into little pieces and implant it into your shoulder muscles and it will regrow and function normally – how COOL is that?!?! It’s crazy how your body works!! Anyways, so after surgery, your body goes into “shock” and your calcium dips so most everyone is put on calcium supplements and that is why most with more extensive surgeries – to include the Total Thyroidectomy and Neck Dissections they will keep you over night to monitor your levels. My calcium was checked about a week after surgery and my levels were actually higher than “normal” levels which is great so I was taken off the additional supplement and back to just taking my “one-a-day” vitamin. Some of the symptoms of a calcium deficiency is numbing and tingling of the face, finger tips and toes. If it persists, it can quickly turn into muscle cramps or spasms, joint pain, and weakness all over. If it goes untreated, you will end up in the hospital and can have seizures or even heart attacks. Very scary! So when I started experiencing the numbing/tingling about 4 different days this past week and taking additional calcium didn’t help, I decided to consult with my doctor. After a long talk, I found out the following information: because of my cancer, she needs to suppress my body to create “hyperthyroidism” to make sure my body doesn’t produce Thyroid tissue that could end up making my cancer reoccur later in life (which I knew that part). That brings on a whole new set of symptoms (in addition to the ones listed below) and one of the main one is anxiety. Apparently with the anxiety attacks that I knew I’d been having but didn’t want to talk to her (or anyone) about because I lead myself to believe that I was becoming a hypochondriac due to the fact that all these symptoms kept coming up – which she very quickly said I wasn’t making them up and all these symptoms were very real and that it was important that I discuss them with her and others to know what was going on. But the anxiety attacks I was having were causing the calcium deficiencies. So more tests needs to be done to see what my calcium levels are and what supplements I need to be put on in the mean time. I was told to make another appointment with my primary to discuss the anxiety medicine I will be going on. So long story shorty – know you body and trust your instincts.

I know there are many symptoms that people are affected by when they are either hyper/hypo or have no thyroid. The below list are just those symptoms that I have personally struggled with. I just want to put this out there now: this is NOT a pity party in no way, shape or form. I have good days and bad days just like every one else. I just wanted to explain the reasons why the struggle is much harder than a quick surgery to remove the cancer because that is almost NEVER the case. I just wanted someone to take me seriously when I say I’m tired, a nap may not fix that. Or if I’m just out of sorts today, I might just need some time to myself.

Symptoms:

WEIGHT (Hypo/No Thyroid): For the last several years I have struggled with weight gain and that was what made me continue to follow up with my doctor. I have always had pretty good metabolism so I knew there were some issues somewhere. I would diet for weeks, exercise, and try everything with no satisfaction – I would only gain weight. It ended up gaining about 45 pounds in about 4 years.

HAIR (Hyper/Hypo/No Thyroid): I’m pretty sure if I’ve showered at anyone’s house they would know what I’m talking about – I could clog the drain in the shower in the matter of 2 days or cover the floor of someone’s bathroom just after blowdrying my hair. Every day I would just run my hands through my hair to put out enough to make a wig. It was very depressing and knew it was always a matter of time before I would go bald! Not to mention, needing a hair trim after just a couple weeks because it would get so dry and frail (even when not using my straightener).

HEADACHES (Hyper/Hypo/No Thyroid): I have always had pretty bad headaches all my life and I’m sure some of them might be stress related but I have been told that they can be hormone related too. With all the hormones in my body that are going crazy (or the lack there of) it wouldn’t be out of the norm to experience it for that reason.

SKIN (Hypo/No Thyroid): I know most people deal with dry skin, especially in the winter, but you know how your hands and face can crack they are so dry? Well I have gotten that on my knees, feet, and elbows – and even a few times on my shins! It’s not fun and doesn’t matter how much lotion I put on, my skin is always extremely dry and itchy year round.

SENSITIVE TO COLD (Hypo/No Thyroid): I often times carry around a blanket (and now a heater) from room to room in my house. My Hubby is very hot natured so I normally have to double up on the sweatshirts/pants/blankets when he is around lol. It is always like a feverish cold to where you can’t get warm – another reason I prefer to always live in the South!

FATIGUE (Hypo/No Thyroid): I know as a parent (especially a Mom) we just keep going until we collapse but I feel this especially that much more true with hypothyroidism (or without a Thyroid). I feel exhausted all that time and all it takes for me to sit down for me to fall asleep on the couch. If I could sleep standing up, I’m sure I would. I can get 2 hours or 12 hours of sleep – I will still be exhausted – nothing seems to help.

CHANGES IN MENSTRUAL CYCLE (Hyper/Hypo/No Thyroid): For a woman, this is a big deal in so many ways. The hormones need to be consistent in your body to remain stable and if they are constantly off, then they can create many problems – that can be with your moods, as well as fertility. This, for obvious reason, can keep you from becoming pregnant or cause you to have miscarriages.

CONSTIPATION (Hypo/No Thyroid): This might be TMI so I’ll keep it short….plain and simple – it happen and it hurts. This can affect your eating and your digestive tract and can pack you up for days on end. Not only does your Thyroid cause you to be constipated, once you have your Thyroid removed, some of the medications you are put on following your surgery, also causes it so it’s a double whammy.

DEPRESSION (Hyper/Hypo/No Thyroid): I think one of the worst symptoms (thankfully one that I have yet experience) is depression. I know that your Thyroid controls most of your hormones and depression is a big one. Often times you feel so alone through these struggles and even with all the support I have – you feel like you are going crazy and might be making it up in your head. I know that I am NOT depressed but like I said, when you are going through this battle, it is so easy to fall into this hole where you just don’t think you have the strength to get out of bed that day. I know everyone has these days – especially nasty rainy Mondays, but imagine if you had these a few times a month. It can make it hard to relate sometimes. If you are struggling with something, maybe with conceiving or even with depression then it’s hard to be around someone with a new baby or someone that is extremely happy. So I feel like it might be really easy to fall into that.

I would love to know if anyone else out there has any other bad symptoms they feel like it’s worth adding? I know there are a few other big ones but I just have been affected by it!

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My Village

I just want to take a break from playing catch up from my story to tell y’all about my amazing and wonderful and awesome and supportive village! Seriously, I couldn’t have asked for a better support group and loving environment that surrounds me. I know there are many people out there, even in much more devastating situation, that don’t have half the support that I do, and for that, I am grateful.

I am going to preface this conversation by saying that I’m pretty independent person and don’t like accepting help, and especially don’t like asking for help (some people like to call that being stubborn as a bull!). I knew when I was told about my Cancer, I would need to lean on others more than ever before but I honestly had no clue how much. I still have a hard time doing so and often get yelled at for not doing so.

Family Introductions: As I said before I have two sets of parents (one in SC and another in UT). We see my Momma and Step-Dad probably once every 2-3 months (it’s a very long 7-8 hour drive) and only see my Daddy and Step-Mom once a year as it’s a very expensive flight. My Mother-in-law and Father-in-law are a quick 40 minute trip down the road from us in NOVA. We see them almost on a weekly basis and often spend the night at least 2 nights per month – we love spending time over there with all the siblings and the kids with their cousins!! My brother, Scottie, is currently staying with us in the basement of our house, while him and his fiance, Bridgette, (due to be married this summer) are saving for an apartment for their growing family – my 4 nephews and nieces ranging in ages from 9 years old to 8 months. My sister, Kristen, and her Hubby, Josh, just had my newest nephews 2 day ago at 33 only weeks – he’s itty bitty (and the definitely the cutest reason this post is a bit delayed)! My sister-in-law, Erin, and her husband, Lex, with my niece (age 4) and my nephew (age 3). My other sister-in-law, Meghan, and her husband Tommy, have 3 boys ages 5, 3, and 1. So needless to say, we all have some busy households!!

Now for the awesomeness – here are some of the examples of help and support I’ve received since my diagnoses in October. Prepare to be amazed!!! 🙂

My Hubby has come with me to most all my appointments and my ROCK throughout this entire process – you are more than I could have ever asked for through this process. I would have never thought we would have put our “through sickness and in health” vows into question already but you have passed with flying colors and I couldn’t be more grateful. My amazing Momma (also) came with me to my initial “you have Cancer” appointment, filled me in after doing all the additional research, my sound board and will be taking care of my kiddos when I receive the Radioactive Iodine Therapy – among many, MANY thing! My awesome MIL has been at almost all my doctors appointment and makes sure my voice is heard when I feel like I haven’t been able to speak up with my Endocrinologist. She calls to check up on me to make sure I made the calls I needed to make or turns in the paperwork when brain fog sets in. She took the stress off my plate when the bills started rolling in and said we would sit down and handle that together. My Daddy and Step-Mom flew in to assist with the kiddos during surgery and my Daddy stuck around to help for the initial 1 1/2 weeks following surgery once my Hubby went back to work to get me around the house. My Aunt (Jessica) and Sister-In-Law (Meghan) have listened to me day in and day out about my “no baby” issues and need to venting days and just every day talking when I feel like I’m going to go crazy. Not to mention, Jessica made TONS of food for us and I mean TONS. It was all amazing and kid friendly but just perfect!! And Meghan is a VERY busy Mommy that watches several kids at home but offered to come with me to each of my 8 appointments prior to my radiation (yes that’s 8 appointments in 9 days) and it will take us several hours a day between commuting to DC and the scans/bloodwork/etc. She’s awesome. My Sister has always been that person for me – my rock and my best friend; although she has done her best the last couple months, her life have been VERY crazy with my nephew who has been giving her hell, pretty much ever since my diagnoses. Now that he is born, I plan on spending many days Skyping again! My other Sister-In-Law (Erin) is my go-to person when I need to figure out what something medically means or to discuss my diagnoses. She is a walking medical book but has never been to medical school but I think she missed her calling. After each appointment I call to fill her in and she asks about 15 questions I would have never thought to ask and I think “I need an Erin in my pocket for each of these appointments so I don’t miss anything!” My Brother has been my comic relief – plain and simple. He says things that no one else would dare to say out loud but he knows that it will make me laugh and it might be just what I need.  My neighbor, Ginger, has been awesome because she has been there to pick up my daughter each and every time we thought we might not make it in time as we live more than just a hop, skip, and jump from the closest family members. Not to mention the daily talks just to vent and she is just one of the most kind hearted people I know (and kind of has an obsession with pineapples…lol). My Step-Dad and Father-In-Law are both men of few words when it comes to these things (more like the “silent partners” that support their spouses so they can help me) – they hate every bit of whats going on and they say just the right thing at the right time. They give the best hugs, send the best messages, and give the best toast. And I know they would move mountains if they could. My best friend Jen, who is also my comic relief, we both have so much going on in our lives but she always does FaceTime on the days I need it best. She says (and does haha) whatever it takes to get a smile on my face. If she was a millionaire (and if my Hubby would allow it) she would have come and stayed with us a while ago to help out but I know she is always just a FaceTime away! My co-workers (Caryna, Bridgette, and Kristina) have been amazing friends to me and have continued to check in on me and be there for me. My Aunt Casey for taking the kid away and watching them when I got the flu shortly after surgery. Thank God they didn’t get it!! Thank you Angie for always being there for me and Mom so she could be there for all my appointments – it means the world to me!!

There were so many people that brought FOOD! Not just any food – but delicious and amazing food and food I didn’t have to cook haha! And I was even more excited that I was able to eat it after surgery. Seriously you were awesome for doing that!!  (SPECIAL Thank You – Aunt Jessica, Daddy, Sonja, and Teesa!)

To the people that assisted (or offered to help) with my kids or watched other kids so I could get additional help, you don’t understand how much it means to me!!! Not having to worry about who was going to be where or when they needed to be there, was such a relief and a weight off my shoulders. And knowing that I had more people with me at my appointments because it was so hard to retain all of that information by myself in such a short period of time. And we had more questions answered with more perspectives present. (SPECIAL Thank You – Eme, Daddy, Momma, Step-Mom, Angie, Ginger, Meghan, and Scottie)

I know there were so so many people that have reached out to me since October just to give words of encouragement and support. I know there are many people that have assisted my family in more and different ways than I can even begin to put into words. Unfortunately, I’m sure there were some people that I may have missed and I’m so sorry for that – I can promise you that it was unintentional.

I hope this gives everyone a better picture of how much I am surrounded by an amazing group of family and friends and if you have even half the support that I have, then you can make it through anything!

Total Thyroidectomy and Left Neck Dissection – Surgery Post-Op

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So I did it!!! I made it through surgery and my first night without my “butterfly” – truly on the night to recovery!

Of course to be expected the first night I was woken up, what seemed like, every 20 minutes. Even with no sleep I was up for good around 8am – I felt like a new person and felt better than ever! I wanted to get up and move around but needed to wait for them to remove my catheter. That happened around 9am, following the visit from my Surgeon and he was quite pleased with how I was looking and recovering. He wanted to make sure I didn’t over do it but I expressed the need for a shower and to move around a little bit. He approved but continued to tell me to watch it. Of course I took a shower and moved around, was eating full meals, I had 80% of my voice and then it all of a sudden hit me…..yes, like a ton of bricks! The on-call doctor ended up having to up my meds to a much stronger type of pain meds and muscle relaxers. I couldn’t move and couldn’t keep my eyes open. I definitely had overdone it. The Surgeon popped in before leaving for the day and said he didn’t want to put me down earlier but knew the steroids were still in effects so when the anesthesia wore off – I felt great but then the steroids wore off too lol. Go figure – I’m not one to sit around and everyone kept telling me to chill out but I wouldn’t take no for an answer!! Now I was stuck in the bed feeling like crap again….oh well lesson learned!! By the late afternoon/early evening I was starting to feel a little more comfortable.

I have to say one of the hardest parts of this process was having my kids come to visit. I did LOTS of research and asked a lot of advice from different people on how they might suggest my Hubby and I handle telling the kids about my Cancer/Surgery/Treatments (but that will be a post for another day). Just for the point of the story, we told them my “Butterfly” was sick and so I needed surgery to have it removed. When they came to see me, I had bought a silk scarf (green with butterflies all over it) and planned to wear it just to hide the initial shock of the scar in the beginning stages of recovery. I’m not sure what happened but when my kids walked in the door with my parents I was caught off guard and never got the chance to cover up. At first, my oldest, Mileigh, (age six) didn’t even seem to notice – she even sat on the bed next to me to read me a book. Conor (age 3) wasn’t a huge fan just because I think he was worried and overwhelmed that I was hooked up to so much and didn’t like seeing Mommy in the hospital. It wasn’t until Mileigh over heard Daddy mention something about my incision and that’s when my daughter jumped off the bed and started to cry. She refused to come back to me because she was scared and didn’t realize it looked that bad. I lost it. I hated that through everything, I was the ONE person in her life that she could run to no matter what, and I scared her. I talked sweetly to her and tried to cover up my neck with my blanket and even tried to hold her hand from afar but nothing worked. My Daddy came and just held me while my Hubby and Step-Mom tried to calm her down. She eventually came over and apologized to me, which I hated that much more – she didn’t need to apologize for being scared. I was scared, she was scared, we all were scared. But you can’t tell that to a 6 year old. So she gave me a big hug and told me that she loved me and that’s all I needed to hear. I couldn’t wait to be home and things to be “normal” again….for my kids to not worry if Mommy was having to go back to the hospital.

We ended the night with a quick Skype call with my sister and my best friend, Jen, and a visit with my sister-in-laws and one of their husbands. They are all so great to me and it was so nice to just sit back and hang out like there was nothing that changed. It was a nice pace – until I started to doze off.

Night #2 was a lot better, probably due to exhaustion – but I was restless more than anything, less uncomfortable but that was probably the meds talking haha.

I was released on Day #3 and I couldn’t have been more excited. My Hubby and Daddy came to pick me up once they got the kiddos off to school but it took hours for them to finally come back by and go over discharge information. It was a long 2 hour drive home – I felt sick and hungry and tired and didn’t know which I wanted to fix more. But when we pulled in the driveway, I never felt better. I slept in our brand new recliner that night and it was awesome!!! I knew I had a long way to go for recovery but it was already much better than I initially thought and I couldn’t have had better support.

Total Thyroidectomy and Left Neck Dissection – Surgery Pre-Op

So once I was diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Cancer and they confirmed the nodules were on all sides of the Thyroid, they decided to remove the entire Thyroid rather than just one lobe (or one half). During the ultrasound, they also discovered that my lymph nodes were affected to the point that they knew it was going to be an extensive surgery. I met with one of the most highly recommended Surgeons in the D.C. Metro to discuss – he informed me that all of my lymph nodes on the central and left side of my neck are abnormal and would need to be removed. I would need to get a hockey stick shaped incision starting with the normal Thyroid incision going across my throat and up to just below my ear. I knew it was going to be hard but when he said it was going to be a 4 week long recovery time I just couldn’t believe it. He said in order to remove the lymph nodes on the far left side of my neck and under my muscle, they would need to pull and clamp my muscle back for a certain length of time. This would cause major discomfort in my neck, shoulder, and arm. I would lose some movement and strength. Of course I knew it was going to be hard but I truly didn’t know what to expect. Surgery was expected for 12/1 with an estimated 2 night stay.

It was Black Friday (the Friday before my surgery) that I received my Nurse call to discuss surgery logistics – they wanted to make sure I was scheduled and ready to go for Wednesday, 12/3….ummmm what?! NO – I’m scheduled for 12/1!!! UGH yes, they rescheduled me without telling me and I had my parents who flew in for the surgery and made arrangements based on these dates, which included my kids being taken care of, my Hubby taking off of work, and my sanity haha. I know it was only two day but my life was already turned upside down – the only thing I wanted was some stability!

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The morning of my surgery I tossed and turned all night – I planned a huge post for FB so my Hubby could easily keep everyone updated and I started a mass group test so he could keep our closest family and friends updated with update from the doctor and nurses. But I have to say that the best part of my support was the day of my surgery seeing all the notifications that kept popping up on my phone. It was my “village” posting on FB and texting me saying they were thinking about me. I pretty much cried the whole way to the hospital and read each one to my Hubby. In case yall didn’t know – it meant the WORLD to me!!! Just some of the things that were sent to me:

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Either way, I made it to my surgery on 12/3, with all kinds of butterflies in my stomach (and the remaining one in my neck for the remaining hours – haha I got jokes). My Daddy and Step-Mom held down the fort at home with my kiddos while my Hubby and MIL took me to the hospital. It was a long wait of checking in, then changing wearing my awesome “party hat” (aka hair net), and waiting for the surgeon and anesthesiologist to come by and let me know the plan. FINALLY after a couple gruesome hours they asked what my favorite cocktail was – which anyone who knows me, is a SoCo and Coke so that’s what she told me to thinking about when she put the “cocktail” in my IV while wheeling me off.

I have to say, when I woke up in recovery, it was just like the movies – I thought I heard people talking about me. I barely moved and then all I felt was excruciating pain. I couldn’t talk – just cry. The Nurse came by and told me to hang tight and she was getting more pain meds for me. All I wanted was my Hubby to come and tell me everything was going to be ok. I heard her talking to him saying I wasn’t ready and I just couldn’t get the words out that I needed him. She asked if I needed anything else, so I finally was able to ask when I could see him – she smiled and said he could now. I was so relieved to see him and my MIL. To have someone to hold my hand and it meant everything to have them there.

Eventually I made it to my own room – and I’m not sure how because the man that wheeled me in the bed did NOT make it easy. I’m pretty sure we bounced off each and every wall available between the recovery floor up to the main floor; and there are a LOT of walls, doors, elevator doors, etc!! Haha it made for a good laugh later after the fact (especially for the two following behind me)! Got settled into my room for a very long and uncomfortable night. Once I was situated, my Hubby was starving and offered to grab me some ice cream as I wanted to try but didn’t know what I could handle at the time. Eventually I gave in to the fries with a Frosty and it was the perfect duo following my surgery! Kinda like me and Hubby – I seriously don’t know what I would have done without him by my side!

Now on to recovery…. 🙂

No Baby For Me….

I have to say this might be a difficult post for me for many reasons but I know it’s on the mind of any people in the same situation….

To start off: I am so very, very grateful for the two beautiful kiddos that I have – Mileigh Ann and Conor! They made me a Mommy and that’s all I could ask for, for a long time. At this point in time I’ve had 6 miscarriages…yes, six. Most of them may have been early, the pregnancies may not have been at the right times BUT it’s never, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER easy.

I first got pregnant at the early age of 19 but boy was I excited because I just recently got engaged to my “first boyfriend/love.” After 14 very long weeks pregnant, I miscarried and needed a D&C. I was devastated and it didn’t take long for me to get pregnant again (4 months to be exact) and miscarried at 8 weeks pregnant. I had another one (about 6 months later) at 6 weeks pregnant. Full disclosure: I finally got married to my then husband – we both were very immature and didn’t take care of ourselves. We both drank heavily (when I wasn’t pregnant) but he was always drinking and doing drunks – obviously with the miscarriages I became stressed and none of this helped with the pregnancies.

I had Mileigh Ann (she is now 6 1/2) and finally made me grow up. I had another miscarriage about a year later (I was 11 weeks pregnant). Then about a year later I had my baby boy Conor (he is now 4 1/2). I decided it was finally time to end things with my (now ex) husband. He was both verbally and physically abusive and I didn’t want my babies growing up in that – even though he never hurt them, it was always directed towards me and I didn’t want that to escalate.

I always kept in touch with one of my best friends, Spencer, from high school, but made sure to reach out that much more when he started going through his divorce. We both started to lean on each other through that time and ended up sparking an interest in each other. Next thing I know, I moved to NOVA (Northern Virginia) to make a better life for me and my kids and to see what was next for Spencer and me. I ended up having a miscarriage about a year into our relationship – but I was on the Mirena (a type of birth control) and somehow got pregnant and miscarried all within 4-5 weeks. Obviously it made us both very sad but we were not trying nor were we ready to start a new life.

Finally after 3 1/2 years of dating we got married, with more than enough family and friends present. We decided very early on that we wanted to get pregnant fairly quickly so the kids were somewhat close in age and so we weren’t 60 years old with middle schoolers lol. It was exactly 6 months after we said our “I do’s” that we started trying to conceive. Haha it didn’t take long, as we were pregnant within the same month that I had the Mirena removed. We obviously wanted to wait to announce but with early complications and a close family, we told all family that we saw on a regular basis. In the matter of a few more days, I miscarried at 7 weeks – having my 6th miscarriage.

Now with the whole Cancer thing – I was told I needed surgery and Radioactive Iodine Therapy, which will all set me back a few years. Depends on the day and who you ask, but my Endo said anywhere from 2-4 years break from conceiving. I know to most people that doesn’t sound like a big deal – especially when you are thinking of surgeries and treatments that need to be done for cancer, but it’s a big deal to me and my husband and our family. For the first time in our lives, we were ready to expand. We were taking that leap. And it’s not fair. Yes I know I should be, and I WANT to be, healthy for our family, both current and future. But that’s no one else’s business…I know that we still have a great chance of getting pregnant again (even after RAI) but it doesn’t make it any easier now. The doctors don’t realize that when they talk to you.

My Endo tried to compare her “being a doctor and unable to take extended time away from work to me having to wait 3-4 years to try again – PLUS I have two kids already?!?!” Are you kidding me???? Once again, none of your business that they came from a previous marriage and we aren’t done at 2.

I just wish doctors had to be directly impacted before they are able to specialize in one thing in particular – or maybe they have been but don’t necessarily sympathize. This isn’t mine or my husband’s fault. There are days that I feel at fault because he has waited so long for this day to happen but then I do understand that there is nothing I can do to change this. Just when I think I’ve “mourned” the loss of an opportunity to have another baby at the moment, I have another moment. Another baby shower comes up. My period shows it’s self again. Or just a rough day – it happens. And it’s ok to have these days – as long as we get back up the next day and push for another healthy day – another day closer to having that opportunity.

To all of you going through the same thing, I truly sympathize. I understand. And I pray that it happens when you are ready – sooner, rather than later!

The Dreaded “C” Word (FINAL Part 3 – Confirmed)

I was scheduled for my biopsy at on October 16th at 1pm and I was so thankful for my hubby to come with me – I was so nervous and the doctor that was at the hospital that particular day wasn’t very personable. They had me changed and ready to go right at 12:45pm and go figure, just a few minutes before 1pm, the nurse comes by to tell us there was an emergency patient that came in and needed to be handled. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for them being taken care of first, as I would have liked to be treated that way if it was the other way around but it did NOT help the nerves. Thankfully she came back by around 1:45pm and we were ready to get the ball rolling.

Once back in the room, the two nurses make it a point to be happy and make me laugh – they changed the music to my favorite – country! 🙂 They proceed to put me in the awkward, neck back and turned in a way that it shouldn’t be turned to get the best views through the ultrasound. The Mr-Grumpy-Pants Doctor decided to finally show up – gave me a poor excuse for positive thinking – “Oh it’s probably nothing – you know the chances of cancer are less than 1% right? These doctors refer so quickly now-a-days….” Yep, that happened. They said the numbing agent was like a bee sting – well I’ve never been stung so I still had no clue what to expect. The rubbed a blue skin prep to clean prior to the biopsy then shortly started numbing – the first shot of numbing wasn’t that bad but the second you could definitely tell was a lot deeper a hurt more than the first. Next thing I know, the doctor pulled the 3 samples (they were supposed to be random from top, middle and bottom of the tumor), and was done within 10 minutes after I was numb. I was warned but the skin prep definitely turned my entire neck blue – I was sore, almost like a whiplash from a minor car accident but only for the 24-48 hours. Other than that, only had a few headaches (which is a normal for me so I wasn’t sure if it could fully be blamed on the biopsy).

So my Momma/Step-Dad live in South Carolina and my Daddy/Step-Mom live in Utah so my parents always do their best to be there whenever they can but it takes a lot more prep time for these visits. We are very fortunate to have my in-laws within 40 minutes (including MIL/FIL and both sister-in-laws and families and many, many more). When all this stuff came about, my Momma made a point to be at every appointment and/or treatment she could. She made arrangements to be there for my post-biopsy appointment on 10/27 for the results and spend a long weekend to discuss next steps.

Well I have the luxury of working from home so when I got a call from what looks like a doctors office on Thursday, October 23rd at 12:27pm, I answered and it changed my life. It was my PCP calling to make sure I got the results back from my biopsy because he was copied on them and knows my Endo is always really good about getting them back to us really quickly. At that point I told him that my follow up appointment wasn’t until the following Monday because they told me it would take 10 days to get the results back but then she had surgery scheduled that day so they had to push the appointment back another day to Tuesday, He, of course, didn’t want to tell me over the phone but also didn’t want to keep me hanging another 5 days, especially now that I knew the results were in. So he told me – “You have Papillary Thyroid Cancer….” I know he went on and on for another 10 minutes explaining that it was the “good cancer” and it’s got a 96% success rate so it’s highly treatable with surgery and sometimes with a special type of radiation. I honestly didn’t hear anything he had to say – I just heard the dreaded “C” word – CANCER. I remember crying on the phone and he felt horrible because he didn’t want to let me off the phone in that state. I remember telling him I had a bunch of questions but I literally couldn’t think of anything at the moment.

After getting off the phone, I lost it. Like what you see in the movies – I fell to my knees sobbing. I called my Momma – she didn’t answer. I called my MIL – she didn’t answer. Obviously if they knew I would be getting a call, they would have been standing by the phone or would have been with me, but I shouldn’t have gotten that info over the phone. That was why my Momma was going to drive 8 hours so we could ask questions in person. Finally, I got ahold of Step-Mom and she drove to get my Daddy (he isn’t allowed to have cell phones on the premises at work) – and we all just cried and cried. I felt like I wanted to be strong when I talked to my Hubby so I waited until I stopped crying – but of course, as soon as I woke him up (he was sleeping because he was still on night duty) and I couldn’t hold it in. I told him how scared I was and didn’t know what to do. He just held me and told me he would be there no matter what and we’d get through it together. I knew with the love and support of everyone that we had in our village – we’d be ok!

So this was the start of my ThyCa (Thyroid Cancer) journey. Just because there is a high success rate, doesn’t make it “easy.”

The Dreaded “C” Word (Part 2 – Ultrasound/Biopsy)

After leaving the Endocrinologist office and getting home, I explained to my husband what my doctor said about my chances of me having the “C” word. Of course, any time someone has a Cancer scare, it’s horrible – absolutely horrible. But my husband is a person to try to put things in perspective and not stress about anything, at least until we totally understand what is going on. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to think “OMG I’m dying” but it would have been nice to have a little bit of support – “hey baby, it’s all going to be ok no matter what – I’m here for you,”. I continued to call my parents and best friend to let them know that was going on. I’m not going to lie – it did make made me feel 0.05% better to know that there might a benign nodule that could be causing all of my symptoms and I’m not totally crazy for going back to my PCP (Primary Care Physician) all those times.

A week or so later, I arrived at the hospital to get an ultrasound. I decided to go by myself because I knew I wasn’t going to get any information until my follow up appointment with my Endo. Obviously I was pretty nervous but didn’t think I would even be able to see anything at all – boy was I wrong. The lump my Endo found was on my left side of my neck (what should have been on the bottom left side of my Thyroid), so I was able to see the TV screen they have posted in the room (to my right side). Surely I had no clue what I was looking at BUT when she began to number and measure each circle she came to – I started to get worried. Counted one, two, three, – and all the way to five circles she numbered. Then she switched over to the middle and the right side, which I couldn’t see as much – as they awkwardly positioned my neck for each look. Finally done about 30 minutes later and made my way home and a loooooong 5 days to wait until my follow up appointment. Came back to my Endo to find out that one nodule of the 5, had all of the characteristics of having Cancer so she wanted to do a FNA (Fine Needle Biopsy aka biopsy) on the said tumor to see if it was. Once again, she scheduled a follow up appointment to discuss the results about 10 days later.

During this time I have to say that it was tough with the support at home. I called my parents, step-parents, and in-laws and they were all very loving and supportive and scared with me but all knew that I would be ok. My husband on the other hand, just didn’t know what to say or do in any way, shape or form. This does NOT make him a bad person – just someone that had no clue how to react to his wife possibly having cancer. I think some people naturally know how to say the right things to make you feel better and typically guys are not that person. In his defense, he has been working nights so most times when I would get home from appointments and wake him, he wasn’t fully awake to digest what I was telling him. Rather than shaking and yelling at him, I chose to just be quiet and dwell on it. My sister in law and I would have conversations about this (not specially what was being said but she was asking how things were being handled by me and my hubby/her brother) and she read right through me. I can’t say how grateful I am for her and the rest of my village because I would have let it go until it broke me or until things were much worse – but all it took was for her to have a conversation with my MIL. She called my hubby that day to talk to him – later that night, my hubby came upstairs with me and broke down more than I have ever seen. He apologized and said he just didn’t realize how serious this was and he didn’t know that just because the chances were low, things were looking more and more serious by the day. He wanted to be my shoulder to cry on (no matter how many times a day) and my constant support. He didn’t want me to hold back – ever! I wanted to make sure to include this part of my story because I’m sure that most everyone has been in a similar situation at one point in their story. My husband loves me to the moon and back (feelings are mutual, for sure) – but I’m glad someone was able to talk to him about the TYPE of support I would need. My MIL had cancer about 5 years about ago so she understands – it’s ok to cry about the news we get (it’s a lot to take in) but if we start to get negative, that’s the time that they can show a little tough love – we always need to remain positive no matter what!!

(I’ll finish the beginning of my story next time…) 🙂

The Dreaded “C” Word (Part 1 – Bloodwork/Lump)

So I originally created this blog about 2 1/2 years ago for totally different reasons. As I said in my previous post, I like to talk and write but I honestly forgot about creating this all together. Of course with so many current changes and challenges going on in my life, I feel the need to vent and talk about it. So here I go…. 🙂

I think we have all experienced a time in our lives where we go to the doctor for concerns and by the time we leave, we feel stupid for ever coming in the first place. And that is because we just wasted three hours there: 2 hours in the waiting room, 45 minutes in the actual room waiting for the doctor to show up then only to spend 15 minutes, if we are lucky, talking to the doctor. I think it goes without saying that it ends up being a waste of time and we don’t want to go back, ever! Well I have been lucky enough to have dealt with this SEVERAL times the Summer of 2014 – I know, don’t be jealous! 
So to give you a little bit of a back story, I just started going back to the doctor to get physicals about 3 years ago. I had just turned 25 and have 2 kiddos so it was time to make sure I was healthy. Each time that I’ve gone, they’ve told me 3 things: for the most part you are really healthy, you aren’t drinking enough water (go figure) and your Thyroid numbers are slightly off so lets bring you back in for re-tests. This was told to me for the years 2012 through 2014. Each time when I came back weeks later to do the retest, everything is normal again. My doctor would say “Not to worry because it happens all the time.” Well after this last time, I brought up some of my concerns with my weight again and how I was never able lose any and I’ve gained about 45 pounds in approximately 4 years. I understand that this happens to people, especially women after giving birth and as we get old (yadda yadda, blah blah), but I’ve always had a great metabolism and stayed in “decent” shape. My doctor continued to shrug me off and told me maybe I needed to consult with the nutritionist to ensure I was on the right “diet.” I was pretty upset about this because, don’t get me wrong, I probably could have done a better job with my diet but either way, I was trying and exercising on top of it – there should have given me better results. After the retest this time, it came back slightly different (showing Hypothyroidism) so they did some additional tests to check my pituitary gland as well because my T3 and T4 levels were conflicting with my TSH levels. Once again, everything came back normal on that end as well. So my doctor at that point just wanted to refer me to an Endocrinologist. He said either way, its probably not an issue because my levels are not enough to do anything about it but this way they can keep an eye on it as he was sure it was going to get worse with time and age. 

That was another 2 month wait – I live in a really small town outside of the D.C. Metro area and there is only Endocrinologist within an hour of me. FINALLY at the end of September I was able to see her and they took another look at my blood work. She didn’t seem concerned just said that I could be going through hormone changes (from a recent miscarriage) as well as many other things. Once again, I only went over the last 5 or 6 times I had blood work done with her and she basically gave me an “excuse” for each one. She wrote me a order to come back in 6 months to do more blood work and we’d “go from there” before trying to walk me out of the office….really?!?!

Finally she decided to feel my neck ONE time before leaving and there it was, that was the lump that changed my life. She immediately wrote me a referral to the local hospital to have an ultrasound done. She let me know that there is only a 1% chance that it’s cancerous…wow just like that, she threw out the “C” word. I held it together just long enough to get home to my Hubby and cry…..

(I’ll continue the beginning of my story the next time….)