Tuesday, March 27, 2012


The scan was clean. (Some close to me are saying "of course," but you know, I try not to count on that.) My next follow-up will be my usual 6 month ultrasound & bloodwork, both painless (mostly) and inexpensive. I can get that done in July before the new school year starts up.

How wonderful to be able to make plans now!

Sunday, March 25, 2012


If the scan was clean, then whatever is making my tumor marker rise is too small to see by conventional methods, so no treatment is indicated now. I'll be subjected to "watchful waiting" for the foreseeable future to keep track of my numbers. The relief I feel at not needing treatment will be offset by my annoyance at having to go through all this hassle and expense only to end up with essentially no data.

If the scan showed one or two small spots, then the situation is slightly more complicated: I could go for treatment or I could stick with watchful waiting, perhaps tweaking my medication so my TSH is even more suppressed. I will feel some relief at knowing the current state of my disease progression. This will be offset by my anxiety over the sure knowledge that my cancer is back again, which in turn will/may be balanced by the fact that it took over 6 years to show up again. This particular see-saw doesn't stop there, though, because, you know, Dr. Clayman promised he got it all, and I believed him.

If the scan shows enough disease progression to require treatment, I will get the treatment, of course. It will most likely be surgery, unless it's in an inoperable place, which would be weird, and would then probably need some kind of external beam radiation. Ick. Sometimes I'm afraid that my undiagnosable headaches from a couple of years ago (which never went away, I just know how to manage them) are actually from metastases, but that's really unlikely.

Options 1 and 2 have me planning my summer vacation Tuesday evening. I'm looking forward to that. Option 3 is not exactly unthinkable, and it really does help that I've been through a neck dissection before, but I don't have any feeling about this one way or the other. I just don't know.

My general response to this situation is: I don't have time for this. Can't you see I'm working here? I'd like to continue to do that, OK? OK.

Friday, March 23, 2012


Today at the end of my prep hour (in which I - for once - did actual lesson planning) I noticed that my endocrinologist's office had called. In the vastness of my classroom, I rarely hear my cell phone vibrating.

I tried to call back but got funneled through to voice mail and gave up, only to find that they had left me a message. I felt distinctly uneasy -- why are they calling me today, my appointment's not until Tuesday, they wouldn't be reminding me so soon, so there must be some news...

No such luck. The message was a simple appointment reminder. Still don't know whether I'm coming or going.

[It's not that I don't work during my prep hour, it's just that lesson planning is usually my Sunday evening activity. Prep hour is usually for cleaning, assembling or putting away lab supplies, grading, updating the gradebook, or writing tests.]

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Ninja dishwasher -- so quiet you don't know it's there

So last weekend DH says, "Let's get a new dishwasher." This wasn't totally out of left field since we'd had to prop the old one closed so it would run. Still, I was surprised, because the broomstick wasn't that much of a pain to deal with. We went to the Sears Appliance Center down the street and bought a dishwasher. (We tried Spencer's first, but they were closed, and we were impatient.)

It was installed yesterday in between doctor's appointments and A/C maintenance and making Boston Creme pie for Pi Day.

Not pretty, but tasty: yellow cake, pastry creme filling, and dark chocolate ganache

We bought a new refrigerator, too, simply because the old one was 16 years old and that in itself was something of a miracle. Better to plan the switch than have to deal with it on an emergency basis. The new fridge was just delivered, a half-hour early. While normally one appreciates a delivery coming early, I was in no way prepared for it: my dentist appointment ran late. What I'd hoped would be a thoughtful process of sorting, storing, and disposing was instead a rush job of getting everything out of the old unit so it could be moved out of the way.

It wasn't that bad in the alcove, but it still took some effort to get it clean.

It's huge, but it doesn't take over the kitchen.

I basically threw everything into the new fridge. We'll sort it out later. I'm exhausted.

Between the dishwasher and refrigerator, that doesn't feel like my kitchen. I know I'll get used to it, but right now I can't help thinking if all this expense and fuss was worth it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


... scan this morning. It took, as scheduled, about 2 hours from start to finish. The first thing the tech did was to check my blood sugar (95, fasting) to make sure that the radioactive sugar tracer would get picked up by anything hungry. Second was finding a vein (always a joy), and finally going with one on the back of my hand in which to inject said tracer. The tech brought in a little lead-lined box (looking exactly like a fashionable little clutch, if it weren't for the radiation hazard symbols on it), and took from it a lead-encased hypodermic -- for her protection, not mine, since of course she injected me with the stuff. It was a very small amount of material, but I still had that odd, cold-veined feeling from it.

After that? Resting for an hour to let the tracer work its way through my system, while I worked on a vanilla-flavored barium contrast shake. It's a good thing I was fasting, there is no way I could've drunk that shake if I had had anything in my stomach already. As it was, it wasn't easy drinking the whole thing, even though the texture was much improved since the last time I had to drink something like that.

So, tucked up in a warm blanket, I mostly napped in the recliner for that hour, and then I was brought into the scanner. As usual, it features an incredibly narrow plank which slides in and out of the "doughnut" which is the actual scanner. This is where I screwed up, because I didn't relax my arms enough while the tech was adjusting the velcro straps that are supposed to support them during the scan. I think I just wanted to get it over with, and I wasn't really thinking about whether the straps were supporting my arms or I was.

Holding your arms at your sides for 40 minutes isn't fun, and I ended up with a headache because the cradle for my head, while lined with some type of thick fabric, was still really hard underneath. It doesn't help that I'm in a minor flare and everything hurts now anyway.

I cycled through the stages of "wow, this really hurts, and I really need to move my arms" to "relax, relax, don't screw it up or they'll have to start all over" to "OK, I can do this" at least three times, and had come back around to the "don't screw it up" point again when it was finally over.

The tech says my doctor will have results in 24 hours, 48 at the latest, but my appointment with my endocrinologist is set for March 27 and I don't expect to hear anything before then. (sigh)

I was put off today by a couple of people who know about this situation and just brushed it off as if it were nothing. I don't want to be fussed over, but I would like some acknowledgement that this situation -- waiting for test results, not knowing whether I'm coming or going -- wears on a person. Well, it wears on me.

That wraps up day two of a spring break that is full of appointments and deliveries, and will finish up with a speech and debate tournament. This is the kind of vacation that you need a vacation from.