Saturday, January 31, 2015

feelings

Somewhere along the line I decided that physical feelings are OK to talk about, but emotional ones, not so much.  This is a probably a reaction (over-reaction?) to earlier days of over-dramatic responses to nearly every thing. Thinking back, I can't imagine why I got so upset over so many things in the past.

Anyway.  I'm under a tremendous amount of pressure right now because I'm balancing teaching work and two grad school classes with managing the science fair at school.  That's a freight train of some 300 projects to get set up (and judged...) and 160 papers and displays to grade.  I'm trying to clear the decks of all grading before Wednesday, but I'm not sure that's going to happen.

I haven't been sleeping well at all, so I've been staying up late and then still have to get up early for work.  Consequently, my physical feelings are terrible, too.  It was uncharacteristically rainy and cold today, and I have that vague, all-over discomfort that often - but not always - accompanies this weather.  Also, the first joint of my right middle finger has been viciously attacked by arthritis -- how weird it is, having that one joint so badly affected. It hurts! 

Sleeping has been bad because I have so much to do, but it has also been bad because my right arm keeps falling asleep/going numb on me when I sleep on my side, which I like to do. I've been getting these weird tired muscle feelings in my biceps/triceps, too -- even if I haven't worked out. I believe this all has to do with the muscles in my neck and shoulder, particularly on the right side, as stretching seems to help.

On top of all that, DS1 just turned 18 and will be going to school in state, so there have been lots of discussions about that.  I think he'll be fine, but I'm really going to miss him.

My favorite cafe/bookstore is closing in March.

And over all of this, the question of whatever is going on with my pituitary lingers.  I've had my labs done already, but I don't see Dr. B until a week from Monday.  At least science fair (if not science fair grading) will be over by then.

I made a list of what I'd like to - need to - get done this weekend and it's ridiculous.  I'm going to take some ibuprofen and pray I'll be able to sleep soon.

Monday, January 19, 2015

whoops

OK, so the CT went mostly as expected.  That node is cancer and calcified, and it's snuggled between two major blood vessels and tucked under my collar bone. Fortunately, it's operable if we ever decide it needs to come out.  But for now we'll just keep an eye on it, with CT scans every 6 months.

Now, to the incidental finding: I have a nodule on my pituitary gland.  Fortunately, research says that nearly all pituitary nodules are benign, but they can cause all sorts of other problems.  I'm asymptomatic as far as I can tell, but I'll be going for blood work and will probably be going for an MRI to get a better look at it.

So after six hours at the hospital today, I spent about another 2 hours on the phone making all the other appointments -- eyes, mammo, annuals -- that should have been made over break except I allowed myself to not think about it.   I find myself back in that thoroughly medicalized life on top of full time teaching, two graduate classes, and my first priority, my family. 

I'm so very weary of having things wrong with me.  One of those appointments was for the raging sinus infection that's bothering me again, even though I was on Levaquin over Christmas.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

stretched

Quick update - too much grading to do, and I don't want to leave it all to the weekend.

My students were redistributed among my classes and overall, it's excellent.  Admin managed somehow to balance the number of students well, so I have no more under 20 classes, and only one class with 33 students. It helps enormously.  I was able to update my lesson plans straight through to spring break, which was somewhat tedious but now is a tremendous relief.

It's nice to have some comfort, because the hits have been coming from all sides.  The week before Christmas, the two older kids were in a minor car accident that nevertheless totaled our old Civic.   The next weekend, DH dislocated his shoulder.   My mom went back into the hospital, but only for  a day.  Her doctor thought she might have pneumonia but her lungs were clear, although she did need a blood transfusion.

We had a slight pause for a delightful Christmas and New Year's.  We stayed home so I could grade all the science projects and do all that lesson planning.  We ate really, really well though -- especially at our 20th anniversary dinner at Roy's with the kids.

Right before the end of the year, I got into Banner M.D. Anderson for a second opinion on my situation.  My initial consult went well, my ultrasound was pristine, and my blood work was fine.  We seemed to be on an upswing but then the transmission seized on the Odyssey, a friend from my old thyroid cancer support group died, and I feel like I'm coming down with more sinus crud. 

And I'm going for my last test, a follow-up CT scan with contrast, to put the thyroid cancer testing to rest, on Monday.   It would be easier for me to be calm about that if I didn't feel ever-so-slightly sick: head congested, body aches, chills -- but no fever according to the thermometer! 

School had been going really well, until this afternoon when all of these stresses combined with a particularly persistent attention-seeking student led to an annoyed parent.  My administration was supportive but still, I just feel like there's too much going on right now.

My two new classes started this week and I know I'm going to enjoy both of them tremendously, not least because both of them will be less work than the two I had last semester.  There's good stuff to come, too, as I'm looking into 1-week classes to take over the summer.  I may be able to finish this program more quickly than I expected!

This sounds bad, and in truth we've had more bad luck in the past month than we seem to have had in the past 10 years, but there has been so much good, too.  A few good night's sleep, and a clean CT scan, and all this tension will evaporate.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

wants vs needs

What I want to do today, having finally uploaded months of photos from my phone, is write a nice long post, or maybe a bunch of smaller ones, about these past few months.  When the only thing I write about is my thyroid cancer testing, it makes it seems as though that issue is dominating my life, when it isn't.

On the other hand, I had my appointment at Banner MD Anderson this past week and that went very well; I had an ultrasound yesterday and my follow-up appointment is Wednesday.  Both the doctor and I are more than OK with "watchful waiting" if that's appropriate.  He was relieved when I brought that up, because if that really is an active node in my chest, it's in an inoperable location (they're just not up for cracking the sternum to get to it.)

More on that later, I'm sure.  Right now I'm procrastinating because I have 80 science fair papers to grade and I'm resisting!  I want to be able to relax tomorrow, it's my last full day of vacation, and I've pretty much finished everything else I needed to do over vacation.  If I can just get those papers done, I'll be all set. 
We'll be taking these down, soon. 

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

next...

M. D. Anderson in Houston won't give me a second opinion unless I re-register as a new patient and make an appointment to come in.   I'm not going to Houston over this.  At least not yet.

But MDA opened a new center teamed up with Banner Hospitals here in the valley, and they have a surgeon on staff that is experienced with recurrent thyroid cancer. 

I have an appointment with him on December 29.  The really cool thing is, because they're MDA, they have access to all my old MDA records.  And because they're also Banner, they have access to all my scans, too.

Just waiting on the insurance to clear, which it should... then we can put this to rest.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

bah.

After repeated calls to my endo's office, the nurse/manager finally called and left a detailed message on my cell phone.  The doctor had conferred with my  usual nuclear medicine doctor, who pulled the film and agrees that it's just a calcified node.  They're all happy with that and say I don't have to do anything for a year, when I'll repeat the Thyrogen testing cycle as usual.

I don't want to complain (really, I don't), but this is bunk, and it's contrary to the ATA's long-term management guidelines for differentiated thyroid carcinoma, too, which indicates I probably should've had another dose of RAI.  (Tg>2, dxWBS positive).

I guess the thinking is, the scan was only slightly positive, and watchful waiting is a recommended strategy for low-risk cases.  I don't think I'm a high risk case, but I don't know if I'm low risk.  I think I'll send an email to MDA tomorrow and see if they can look at the scans.


Wednesday, November 05, 2014

wearing & tearing

No news since my appointment last week.  I'm not surprised, although I do come home every day and check the answering machine for calls from the doctor.

I try not to think about it, and generally do a pretty good job of keeping it tucked away, but that takes energy.  It's like a weight on me, one that I have no way of knowing how long I'll be squished under.

It wears on me so.  I hate all my clothes, my hair (not-so-recently cut shorter than I'd wanted) looks stupid, my class last night left me disappointed and everything just seems off.  Being tired doesn't help.

***
I managed last weekend OK: Halloween was mostly driving the 2 younger kids to and from events with friends, so that spared me from dealing with trick-or-treaters most of the night. Saturday I took the 2 older kids to Sozo to hear a 15-year-old blues guitar genius, and Sunday the entire family went to see Ballet Arizona's Swan Lake with the Phoenix Symphony.  It was glorious, and then we went to Euro Cafe for dinner because DD's birthday was fast approaching. 

She requested meat loaf and mashed potatoes for dinner, with a birthday apple pie since she doesn't care for most cake.  I spent most of the last 3 days cooking, to good effect -- the pies came out beautifully.

***

The weather has finally, finally cooled off enough to wear sweaters. Not-summer seemed to take forever to get here, but I know that's subjective, it never cools off until November.  It's amazingly delightful outside now, and quite cool in the mornings.

***

I have a week off of grad school classes, which is good because I have a paper and all sorts of other stuff to do.  So far my lowest grade on an assignment has been 17/20 and I have no problem with that grade. I didn't have time to spend 4 hours writing up a super-detailed lesson plan, so I spent about 30 minutes just giving the broad strokes.  I did what I could in the time I had, and that has to be enough.

***

Even though I'm sure, 100% positive, that whatever I've got isn't going to kill me, or even have any lasting long-term effects on me, I do have a feeling that there's going to be some disruption along the way somewhere, and I'd like to know what that will be, when that will be, and how recovery will go.   I can't manage expectations when I'm in limbo like this, but that's how my mind works best, so I'm constantly hitting this wall of No Information.

***

Time to put all this back in its box & go to bed.