Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cancer sucks!

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up! But seriously, my lack of posting is due to the chaos that has been surrounding my life and at the center of it is cancer. This has been one HECK of a roller coaster! I'm not a fan of roller coasters, emotional ones included! When I last wrote I told you of having to go to an Oncologist. Well, I went and she pretty much wondered why we were there. She said we should have gone to a surgeon and referred us to one. She also said that the pathology from the needle biopsy wasn't 100% saying that it was cancer and she believed that it probably was NOT, it could be, but she really doubted it. I was stunned. I felt stupid. No what? My parents and husband were excited at the "it's not cancer" prospect, but I wasn't convinced. I just had a feeling. So, to surgeon #1 we go. He was a head and neck surgeon and a good guy. I didn't like that he inserted a camera UP my  nose to look down into my throat, but bygones. He also said that it *may* not be cancer, but according to the pathology from the biopsy, it looked like it probably was... Again, huh? Although we all felt like this guy knew what he was doing, I wanted a second opinion from another surgeon. Enter surgeon #2. This one came highly recommended. He was a general surgeon and did a LOT of thyroids among other things, heart surgery included. My father (and mother and husband) went with me to the appointment. My dad is a retired heart surgeon and knew his father (who was a famous heart surgeon) so they really hit it off. I knew #2 was the one. He also felt very confident that we were just dealing with a multi-nodule goiter (even though there was only two masses- one on the right and one on the left). Again, I didn't celebrate, I held on to my gut feeling. Surgery was scheduled for two weeks. I went on about my life as a mother, teacher, and wife and held my head high. People remarked frequently that I was handling things so well. Indeed I was because, heck it may not even BE cancer!
Fast forward to THE day. Surgery. My mother in law came down to take care of the kids (praise God for her!). My husband and I had to be at the hospital at 5:15am. Holy moley! Surgery was scheduled for 7:15. We went in to the Patient Assessment place at the hospital, the same place I was for my Pre-op appointment the day before. I got in my gown, talked with the nurse, answered questions that I had already been asked and would be asked yet again later on. I had to pump as well since it was going to be several hours before I would be able to. Then they put me in a bed and rolled me to the elevator and up to the "holding room". This was so weird. It was like a big huge room where they wheeled everyone to get them prepped before surgery. The nurse, nurse anesthetists, anesthesiologist, and the surgeon all came there to talk to you. They put in your IV there as well as the funky leg things that inflate and deflate to keep your circulation going and prevent clotting in your legs. I got to watch the young girl across from me cry, and she got to watch me cry too. As the time went by, more and more people were wheeled in there, getting prepped for the first surgeries of the day. The time finally came when my husband had to go to the waiting room and I had to be wheeled away. Everyone was so good and so reassuring and tried to calm me down and quell my fears (of throwing up after I woke up, of all things!). I remember entering the operating room and the oxygen mask. I also remember the smell of the plastic mask and then the smell of something else.. and viola! I woke up in recovery. It was painful. It sucked. I was not happy. In fact, I believe my first thought was how angry I was at every person who had been through this that had told me how "easy" it was!! EASY?! Are you kidding me?!?! I felt like I had just had a c-section on my neck. I sort of had, but I didn't have a baby out of the deal! I've had two c-sections and I believe I'd rather have another one than have this surgery. My mom and husband were excited- they said that the surgeon had told them that they only found .5cm of cancer in the right tumor that they did a frozen section of in the OR! He didn't think I'd have to do the radiation pill post operatively and that he should be able to manage my meds w/out the need of seeing an endocrinologist. When he came to visit me he said the same thing, but added that we would, of course, have to wait for the final pathology which should come in 48 hours.
Clear liquid diet = yuck. I pretty much didn't eat for two days. For one, it hurt like hell, and for two salt water ("broth) wasn't at all appealing. I had to stay an extra day because my calcium levels were too low and they needed them to increase before discharging me. When I was finally discharged, my path results still weren't back. He told me we would go over them in the office at my post op appointment in 10 days. My parents, being the doctors they are, wanted to see the path report so the office faxed them to my dad. I didn't realize he had them until he sat me down on Saturday evening. It turns out that the right side wasn't just .5cm of cancer, it was actually 1.7cm and the left side wasn't just a goiter, but 2.5cm of cancer! HEARTBREAKING. I was dumbfounded and didn't know what to think. My mind was racing. All of this back and forth business and here we were again, back at square one- you have cancer. All along that gut feeling I had was justified. I was right, it WAS cancer. So here we are. I'm at home recovering and trying to figure things out. I have good days and bad days, happy moments and sad ones. Since I haven't had my post op appointment with my surgeon I don't know the plan for sure from here, but it will involve an endocrinologist and likely scans and the RAI (radioactive) pill. Ugh.
I will get through this. I will be fine. I will be stronger for it, but I can't help but wonder why and question why this is happening to me. I just turned 33 two days ago; I'm still "young". I'm a fighter dang it! I will hold me head up high and keep on trucking. As bad as this seems, at least I am here, the cancer was removed when the thyroid was taken out, and at least we found this and acted quickly!

** I have to tell you who my neighbors were for my hospital stay. To my right was a prison inmate. She was guarded 24/7 by a sheriff. I felt safe.. sort of. To my left was someone with MRSA. Lovely. She had issues. Like something was NOT right with her. I kept my air on (it was really loud) so I didn't have to listen to her hacking in her room. Needless to say my nurses, nursing assistants, dietary, and housekeeping people liked me. I made a lot of friends during my stay!! They were great!

This is me before they put me on the bed.. and before the tears began!

My gory neck. Frankenstein much?

This was breakfast on day 2. That dark liquid is BEEF broth. BREAKFAST people!! All I ate from this tray was the apple juice and half of the popsicle.

My digs. Cozy....

My view of downtown Fort Worth.

The cot that my dear husband slept on each night. It was so awesome that he stayed with me.

I had to pump and dump the first 24 hours. After that I was able to save the milk, but I ran out of lids! So.... I asked for baggies and rubber bands from the nurse. All they had were biohazard specimen bags!

Breakfast day 3. They had me on a HIGH calcium diet once they moved me to "full liquids" after the clear liquid diet. I see a theme on this tray! Good thing I'm not lactose intolerant (but I don't like milk!).

Yucky picture of the patient (I've lost almost 10lbs since then!).

My "ride" out of the hospital! What is this thing and what happened to wheel chairs? It was actually pretty cool though b/c it held all of your bags and belongings!

Gorgeous flowers from my little brother and sister in law!

That's right. Survivor. You can't beat me.

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