Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Waiting Game

So, I had my endocrinology consult on August 5th. There were no surprises. She reviewed the pathology report with me again, and confirmed I would need Radioactive Iodine Ablation (RAI) of any remaining cells, since the cancer had to metasticized to at least 5 lymph nodes.

RAI is both diagnostic and therapeutic: It will show if there are any thyroid cancer cells left in my neck, or if there happens to be any distant metastases (please God, no). Even if there is cancer still present, the radioactive iodine will destroy (ablate) any of it left. Pretty cool.

Problem is . . . I need two injections of a drug called thyrogen, in the days before the RAI treatment, to prep my body. Well, there is a "worldwide shortage" of that drug, so I cannot have the treatment at this point in time.

I really can't make this shit up.

So I am on the "waiting list" for treatments, once the manufacturer produces more. It is expected that there will be an announcement as to when the drug will be available by the end of this month.

So I wait. Again.

You do all know I HATE waiting!!!!!!!!!!???

Friday, July 29, 2011

Back to work, back to life

I started back to work this past Monday. I felt good (relatively speaking) for the first 3 days, but yesterday afternoon, I hit the wall. I was so tired, I could barely walk at about 3pm. I made my way through the last hour of work, picked up my big boy at the camp bus-stop, got the little one from daycare, and headed to the pool. Daddy did swim duty while I relaxed and chatted with a friend.

I have gained 5 pounds in the last 2 weeks though! I'm sure my replacement synthroid dose must be too low. I am really not eating more food that I usually do, and I'm much more active than I was the week before surgery and the three weeks after. I guess we'll find out next Friday.

I used to be a real fan of Viactiv calcium supplements. But taking 6 a day for the past few weeks, and I am just gagging already. Can't wait to stop those :)

On a bright note, we were just given 4 front row seats the a home Yankee game on Sunday afternoon! I'm so excited to see the new stadium, and for the boys to enjoy an afternoon at the ball park.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

back to work tomorrow . . .

I am as healed as I will be for now, so I am back to work tomorrow. I've been gone for four weeks! I have never been away from work for that long. Ever.

My next appointment is with the oncology-endocrinologist at MSKCC on August 5th. She will take over my care from the surgeon at that point. She will dose my thyroid meds, watch my calcium levels, and talk about the plan for the radioactive iodine treatments.

So, at this point, I am in a holding pattern for 2 more weeks. Guess I will enjoy the summer for now!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

So that was fun!

At least I haven't lost my sarcastic edge after surgery ;)

We arrived at MSKCC at 5:45am on Tuesday to check-in for surgery. They were
ready and waiting for me. I continue to be so impressed by the smooth workings
of the institution, in regards to appointments, communications, etc.

They brought me to the pre-op area where I changed into a gown and those awesome
slippers with the no-slip bottoms. They gave me a garment bag to hand my clothes in and
they tagged it with a sticker from my medical chart. They added it to a rolling garment rack and told us it would be delivered to my room after surgery. Thanks!

The nurse placed an IV after taking vital signs. Reviewed medical history, met with anesthesiologist, then surgical fellow who marked the correct side of my neck for surgery (with a good old sharpie!), and I was good to go by 7am. We hung out until about 7:20, when they came to fetch me. They had me walk myself to the OR and climb up on the table. No taxi service going in.

There were about 9 people in the OR, and everyone introduced themselves and were so nice. My surgeon came in to check on me and he put me right at ease. When they were ready, they started the IV and I was out before the oxygen mask coming towards me even touched my face. Love that part! I woke up seconds later in the PACU, although it was already noon. I dozed in and out for another 4 hours in the recovery room, before being transferred to my room on the 17th floor. I hazily remember my husband visiting me in the recovery room at about 2pm, and that he told me Dr. Wong took out 10-15 lymph nodes instead of just the five he planned from the pre-op ultrasound. Lovely. My cancer just keeps getting bigger and bigger. i always was an overachiever ;)

I had a corner room, overlooking the East River and my old campus of Rockefeller University and the 59th Street Bridge. How strange to be back so close to it all-and looking down at it from Sloan :(

All my nurses and techs were excellent! Thank you to Stephanie, my day RN (three times!) from Jersey City who was just adorable. My night nurse (three times too!) Victoria was fantastic as well. Jen, my day RN one shift, has a brother having knee surgery at Greenwich Hospital this coming Wednesday! Small world. And Lauren, my night tech, was the best of all. I was so grateful for being blessed with a great team. Oh! And the IV tech who took my blood a few times was hysterical. I forget your name, but thanks for the packet of McD's ketchup...it saved that turkey burger for me :)

The worst part of the post-op time was the unbelievably, incredible horrible sore throat I had from being intubated for the four-hour surgery. It took 2 full days before I could swallow somewhat comfortably, even with pain meds. My parents brought Jackson to visit me on Wednesday evening. He climbed in bed with me for a bit, brought me flowers, and then went to eat fried shrimp and french fries with Daddy. Nothing changes!

The neck drain was uncomfortable and ugly, especially the darn tube and collection tub thingie. Yuck. Poor Lauren had the job of emptying that puppy and measuring my output. God bless her! Luckily by Thursday afternoon, the drainage was almost nothing, so I could go home Friday morning. My neck is sore and tired, and starting to turn into a yucky pre-bruised yellowish/greenish color. Can't wait to see the final color palette. The incision is pretty small, considering how far my doc dug back to get those nodes on the right side. He tried very hard to keep the incision small and centered, so he told Michael he "tunneled" his way back to get them all. Ewww. What's cool is that I have no stitches...just glue and steri-strips keeping my neck closed. I'll try
to pat a picture so you can see.

and here was the view from my swanky upper east side junior suite:

I go back next Friday to see the surgeon, have some post-op tests, get the dressing removed from the incision, and hear the final pathology report. Please, please....no more surprises!


Monday, July 04, 2011

T minus one day and counting

By this time tomorrow, I will be 1/2 through the surgery. Please pray my vocal chords remain intact, so I can whoop it up like I know how!

Thanks for all the well wishes, everyone. It really helps.

Soon, this will all be a blur, and I can get on with my summer :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Not digging this cancer shit

Just when I had prepared myself for a "simple" surgery of totally removing my thyroid, I get crapped on again. I had my pre-op clearance tests yesterday. Lo and behold, it appears the cancer has spread to 5 lymph nodes near the original tumor. Hmmff. I go from stage 1 to stage 2 cancer in a matter of hours. And I will have a neck resection with the thyroidectomy.

This means a 4-hour surgery instead of 2 hour surgery, and a 5 inch incision instead of a 2-inch cut. I will be in the hospital 3 nights instead of one, because I'll need a drain in my neck after surgery. Lovely.

It threw me for a loop. I'm scared all over again.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Treatment Update

So, this week has been busy. I had a consult with a head and neck cancer surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on Monday morning. It went very well. Both Michael and I liked him immediately, and he was knowledgeable, confident, and actually nice. That's rare for surgeons (at least the ones I know ;). The worst part, but the coolest part, was when he threaded a thin tube with a camera down my nose and into my throat. He was taking pictures of my vocal chords when I sang a high note and a low note. He does this to document the integrity of my vocal chords now, and will re-test after surgery, to see if any intra-operative damage occurred. Apparently, the thyroid gland sits on top of the trachea and vocal chords, so when its removed, it needs to be very carefully peeled away. There is a chance that the chords can be stretched or severed. That may make some people I know very happy - I am quite loud!

Yesterday was my consult at Yale with another surgeon. Now I know why its important to get a second opinion! We did not like him at all. He was old, he mumbled, and he seemed bored with my case. His resident also made many mistakes when telling us about the procedure before the big surgeon came in. He said I'd have a neck drain for two days! Luckily, he was wrong. Eww. They also did the vocal chord test, but he barely explained it to me, didn't ask for my permission or for me to sign consent. He shoved that thing down my nose with no regard to me, and it hurt. At least at Sloan, they numbed my nostrils and throat, and went slowly and gently.

The only pro to using Yale is that it can be done quickly, as in two weeks from today. They don't require any further pre-op testing. Sloan wants a confirmation ultrasound, during which they'll evaluate my lymph nodes . . . if they are suspicious, they'd want a biopsy of those, so they can take them out during the thyroid surgery. Surgery at Sloan would be after July 4th sometime.

I feel better, more calm. At least I made a choice, and feel comfortable with the surgeon. It is strange that he is about my age. Wow. When did I grow up?