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Reply and Update

I just received the following comment and wanted to write a proper response, so I thought I’d make it a post rather than a short comment. I’ve been meaning to write anyway, so this is a great reason to do so. I swore I would keep up, but alas, life keeps moving swiftly.

Hi Kat

I’m curious how you’re doing now. I’m having a TT for Graves Disease on Jan 3rd and I’m soooo anxious about life without my thyroid. All of the horror stories on the Internet have me so scared. Your story seems like a positive one so far. How are you doing now? I’m hoping that the few posts/updates means you’re out there living your life and not worrying about your thyroid anymore!!! Please let me know there is hope after TT!!!

Jen

Hi Jen, thank you for the comment and for the nudging me to update my story. I have indeed been living life like crazy for the last few months, which is why I haven’t written. Since July, I’ve done/am doing the following:

  • moved from my apartment of 6 years into my boyfriend’s house
  • studied for/took the GMAT
  • quit my job (to travel and move)
  • received immunizations for Polio, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, etc.
  • traveled within Africa for 3 weeks
  • was on anti-malarial preventative medication for a month
  • sold my car and half of my furniture
  • traveled back and forth from Atlanta to Denver/Boulder three times to piece together a multistage, cross-country move
  • moved from Atlanta to Colorado via moving van for three days
  • finishing up my application for an MBA program

I’m still in the process of getting settled, looking for a job, finding my way around, writing application essays, dealing with car insurance bureaucracy for a complicated car-borrowing situation, looking for a new endocrinologist, etc….

Indeed, living life.

Things have been a little irregular with my TSH levels, but I attribute that to the travel and transition from Atlanta to Colorado that is still in a bit of upheaval.  I realize you probably deal more with T4 and T3, as I did since my TSH was pretty much at a constant .01, so relying more on TSH is something you’ll get used to after your TT.

I started with 112mcg of Synthroid (brand specific!) and my TSH shot up to about double the “normal” range.  I was then put on 137mcg (two notches up in dosage) and at 6 weeks my TSH was headed back down toward hyper-range, and I was put on 125mcg.  This seemed like the Goldilocks method (too little, too much, just right) so I figured we’d found our stable dosage.  The catch is, I left for Africa the week I started on 125mcg and had little control over what I was eating – and we were all eating A LOT!  Go figure.  There could have been soy oil in everything for all I knew.  When I did my labs (at only 4 weeks due to out of state circumstances) my TSH was way up and she wanted to put me back on 137mcg.  This did not make sense to me because I was headed toward hyper on that dosage just weeks earlier.  (I may be one of the few people you hear of that refuses a higher dosage, but I was having heart palpitations on 137mcg like I did when I was hyper naturally)  So I held off and did my labs a couple of weeks later (again, still too soon, but necessary due to circumstance) and it appears as though my TSH is headed back in the right direction on 125mcg.  Another kink in the chain, I was on Malarone – an anti-malarial for almost 30 days and that could’ve had an impact on my absorption.  The color of the pill looked like it had pigment made from iron oxide – and that could have interfered with absorption.

As you can see, there were way too many variables to really be messing with dosage.  I have to say, I’ve felt great and not great on each level of medication I’ve been on.  It’s been so long since I’ve lived without an awareness of thyroid levels that I forgot what used to be “normal” for me.  I’ve always been hyper-aware of changes in my body and when my levels fluctuated while I still had my own thyroid hormone, I could predict my lab results based on various physical symptoms, my menstrual cycle, and anxiety levels.  With Synthroid, my T4 hasn’t fluctuated as much as my TSH, and perhaps that’s why I don’t feel the changes as subtly as I did previously.

Since my surgery, my menstrual cycle is exactly 28 days no matter where my levels are.  That’s kind of weird.

Since I’ve stopped living out of a suitcase, remained in one time zone, and resumed cooking for myself, I am starting to feel better.  I had put on a couple of pounds before I left for Africa, looking back, it seems stress related, but nothing anyone besides myself might notice, and then added about four more in Africa.  I started to freak out, wondering if this was going to spiral out of control.  I think indeed it easily could if I continued to eat road and restaurant food I while remaining sedentary as I couldn’t help but do, whether due to the moving truck, sitting on one of my 13 plane rides or even in Africa where it wasn’t safe or possible to go out for a jog among the hyena of the Masaai Mara or get lost out in the the middle of the Great Rift Valley in a little place called Ewaso.

So, as my life begins to stabilize, I predict that so will my TSH.

If I could offer some words of encouragement…

I would tell you not to be scared, but I know that’s impossible.  I was absolutely terrified before my surgery.  The best thing that I did for myself was finding a way to just let go.  It was the ultimate lesson in learning to stop trying to control.  You are the only one who knows what your personal lessons are surrounding this and it is a huge opportunity for personal evolution and growth that many people do not have the chance to undertake.  Perhaps that sort of perspective can help calm your mind as it did mine.

Aside from the fact that I wake at 4 a.m. to take my pill every day, Graves’ Disease has been MUCH less intrusive in my life than it has been the last six years.  I still feel relief.  I still am thankful and find it difficult to believe that I have already gone through surgery.  It still feels like a weight has been lifted.  I still have $14K in debt, but after the initial sticker shock, that even feels okay.  I’m alive, I’m functioning well, I feel positive about my future.  I don’t have a single, miniscule thread of doubt or regret about making the decision that took me the better part of three years to make.

My scar is longer than most people’s because my thyroid was pretty big.  It’s still red, but I haven’t bothered with Maderma or anything to minimize it.  As soon as I find it, I’ll start using it.  I kind of liked the novelty of it, it was something awesome to show for what I went through.  Now it just clashes with necklaces…  I don’t really have any hang-ups about scars, so it’s not an issue for me like it can be for a lot of people.  My concern has always been the weight, muscle-wasting, and heart damage issues.  I feel the surgery definitely mitigated those for sure!  One more thing…  I’ve stopped obsessively searching the internet for answers that don’t exist.  What a relief.

I hope what I’ve said encourages optimism in you.  I feel that above all, my greatest asset was my positive attitude that came from I don’t know where, just in time for the surgery.  I think it was a gift that I was too sick for the original surgery date, as I was not in the proper head space for the best outcome.  Attitude will be your best ally.  That does not mean you can’t be scared, but you can feel the fear and still have a positive outlook.  There is no other way to look at it.

If you want more detail regarding any aspect I may or may not have mentioned, ask away!  I’m very open to sharing, just busy 🙂

I wish you the best of luck, Jen.  You will be fine.  Just take it one thing at a time.

Sincerely,

Kat

 
 

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Two week update

Today marks two weeks since the removal of my thyroid.

Perhaps I should’ve updated more often, because now the first week is kind of a hazy memory.  I started weening off the pain meds at about one week.  Then, on Monday, I drove for the first time.  I still have to turn my whole torso to look behind me, I can’t tilt my head back much at all, and it still feels like my neck is sewn on too tight.  My incision is pretty dark and is about 3 inches across – longer than I thought it would be.  I’m used to it now and am taking pictures as it heals.

Almost from the day I got home, I had a good bit of energy.  When they handled my thyroid to cut it out, it likely stimulated it to release a bunch of extra hormone into my bloodstream before it was removed.  I experienced palpitations during surgery (I was told by the anesthesiologist) and for a few days afterward, but they felt very minor compared to those I experienced in my hyper days.  Because it is often difficult for me to take it easy when I’d rather be productive, I don’t think I allowed myself as much rest as I really needed.  I forgot that just because I felt fine didn’t mean that there wasn’t a big slice across my neck that needed healing, and that the body heals when at rest.  So two nights ago I crashed.  My digestive system started acting crazy, I had terrible cramping all night and into the next morning.  The minute my morning green smoothie hit my lips, it felt like my entire intestinal tract went into spasm and I couldn’t even stand up straight.  I was informed that I was probably dehydrated on top of not getting enough rest.

In an effort to aid in my further healing, I rested all day yesterday with my kitty Lilly, who did not leave my side and is currently napping next to me as I write this.  I got a full night’s sleep, took an easy walk and then napped three or four times throughout the day and still went to bed and slept like a log.  I must have needed it.  I’m taking it easy again today, drinking plenty of water and resting.  I ran the essential errands – kitty litter, kitty food, and groceries.  I have all these other things that I’d like to do today:  make soap, clean out the refrigerator, put my laundry away, clean the kitchen floor.  Then I remind myself that there is plenty of time to do those things and the priority now is rest and healing.  I go back to work on Tuesday and I’m not going to take the chance of exhausting myself during the time that I need to be recovering.  It’s easy to forget that my body is using a lot of energy to regenerate tissue and heal the space where my thyroid used to be, I just need to step aside and give it the opportunity to do so.

I don’t really know yet how the synthroid dose is suiting me, since I’m only two weeks out and I still have my own hormone running through my bloodstream.  My educated guess is that I’ll start to have an idea starting at about six weeks out from surgery.  I’m hoping for a relatively seamless transition since I feel I’ve already paid my dues over the last six year roller-coaster ride of hormone fluctuations.  I’ve already wasted too much energy on anxiety and feel there’s no more to spare on something so useless.  From here on out, I can only look forward.  I promised this to myself before the surgery and so far that promise is holding solid.

I have a follow up appointment with my surgeon on Monday and another with my Endocrinologist on Wednesday.  I am fairly confident that they will both tell me that everything is looking good and that I’m recovering nicely.  It’s really strange.  I have to keep reminding myself that I’ve already done it.  That the surgery is behind me.  I feel like along with my thyroid, the surgery removed a lot of the weight of the world from my shoulders.  Granted, I still have my struggles, like anyone does, but I feel lighter.  I’ve always laughed easily, but the last couple of weeks have been full of laughter and ease that were hidden in shadow, previously.  I have a tremendous sense of freedom and relief.

I feel joyful that I can walk around with my hair back and my head held high.  I almost feel as if I had plastic surgery.  I’ve rid that sense of shame and embarrassment formerly choking me.  I may have a big red slice across my neck, but I feel good and proud and slightly bad ass about it.  It’s proof to me and everyone who sees me that I’ve faced one of my biggest fears and came through with flying colors.  It’s my own permanent merit badge.  I love my scar and life!  I am a walking medical miracle now.  Without the little pill I take every morning, I would slip into a myxedema coma and die within a matter of weeks.  We are all lucky to be here, to be alive.  “There, but for the grace of God”, I genuinely get it now, to my core, and I hope to hold it with me further on this path.  All we have is now, and right now is good.  In that spirit, I’d like to leave you with another lesson in the words of Pema Chodron:

The Path Is the Goal

What does it take to use the life we already have in order to make us wiser rather than more stuck?  What is the source of wisdom at a personal, individual level?

The answer to these questions seems to have to do with bringing everything that we encounter to the path.  Everything naturally has a ground, path, and fruition.  This is like saying that everything has a beginning, middle, and end.  But it is also said that the path itself is both the ground and the fruition.  The path is the goal.

This path has one very distinct characteristic: it is not prefabricated.  It doesn’t already exist.  The path that we’re talking about is the moment-by-moment evolution of the world of phenomena, the moment -by-moment evolution of our thoughts and emotions.  The path is uncharted.  It comes into existence moment by moment and at the same time drops away behind us.

When we realize that the path is the goal, there’s a sense of workability.  Everything that occurs in our confused mind we can regard as the path.  Everything is workable.

I would like to say, again, a big, big thank you for all the support I have been receiving throughout this experience.  Well wishes, flowers, smiles, hugs, thoughtful texts and inquiries, prayers, vibes, and all the rest.  It’s truly had a positive influence on how well things have gone so far and has helped lift my spirits overall.  Thank you, thank you.  What an incredible healing force you have all been.

 

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Total Thyroidectomy

 

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You should see the other guy…

So far, so good.  The follow up stuff has become a bit of a hassle just as the rest of it was, but I’m taking it in stride.  I’m not willing to get stressed out over stupid little stuff that will get worked out in its own time.  I’m in good spirits and a little bit of pain.  Not too bad over all.

I got my sutures out yesterday.  The nurse put steri-strips over the scar immediately afterward, so I didn’t get to see it.  They just look like white tape and will come off on their own in about a week.  She said that there’s about a cup of fluid in the area where my thyroid used to be.  The initial rush of fluid was drained through two holes in my neck and the light suction of a spring loaded contraption.  Gross.  It was to avoid infection, but it was kind of weird to see.  Anyway, she said the fluid is normal and it will be re-absorbed by my body over the next few weeks and that is what is causing the swelling and that too will go down over the next few weeks.  At times, it feels as though I have an air bubble in my throat, the kind that hurts.  It’s just the fluid pressing on my trachea and that will also dissipate.

Right now, it looks like there’s a worm taped to my throat.  I understand that it will take about six months before the scar flattens out and becomes less red, but I think I liked the Frankenstein stitches better….  Made me want to say “you should see the other guy” to people who stare when I pass by.

My new medication routine consists of taking a synthroid pill from the refrigerator each night before bed and putting it in a little cup on my night stand next to my big hospital jug of water.  Then, when I wake up, which has been anywhere from 7-9am, I take the pill and go back to sleep.  By the time I get up, it’s been at least an hour and I can eat or drink my breakfast.  Been going with green smoothies the last couple of days.  Lots of vitamins and phyto-nutrients to get my body on track towards healing.  I’m also counting on the cleansing properties of the greens to help with all the drugs that have been pumped through my body in the last week: who knows what kind of anesthesia, morphine, oxycodone, acetamenophen, stool softeners, blood thinners…

Here’s the recipe for my green smoothie, it’s super cleansing, yet palatable:

  • 1 small frozen banana
  • 2-3 big kale leaves without the stalks
  • 1-2 stalks of celery including leaves at the top
  • 1/2 c. parsley
  • 1 c. frozen, mixed berries
  • 2 oz. aloe juice
  • 1c. cold, purified water
  • 1 Tb. chia seeds

It takes some effort to get the greens blended in.  I find if you put most of the heavy stuff on the bottom, it can get a good enough start that it sucks the greens right in.  My boyfriend says it tastes like bark, but my mom and I both enjoy it.  I know it sounds horrible, but it’s kind of fresh and tart, and if you’re like me, just thinking of why it’s so good for you is enough to enjoy drinking it.  You can add about half a cup of juice to make it a little easier to take.  Apple cider works nicely.

That’s the news so far.  I still find it difficult to imagine going back to work after only one week.  Even to a desk job.  My neck gets tired of holding my head up and though I can turn it to the side, I couldn’t turn it as far or as fast as driving necessitates.  I’ve been getting better each day, whether it’s walking further without getting fatigued or being able to lift myself up from bed without supporting my head.  Today felt like a plateau day, but I’m going to go walk a mile and see how I feel after that.  I am making progress though, and that’s how I intend to continue.

 

 

 
 

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Here goes…

Well, what’s left to say?  I spent the day running last minute errands.  My mom and I went to the Farmer’s Market to get mushy food in case I feel like I can’t put down the solid stuff.  We got some sweet potatoes for mashing; lots of beans for pureeing; kale, bananas, berries, and parsley (forgot the celery) for smoothie-ing; soup for healing…

Yesterday I worked out the crazy medical bills that have started to come in and stress me out.  I paid the $54.00 doctor bill which is separate from the hospital bill in that the doctor charges for the interpretation of the ultrasound and EKG while the $399.00 hospital bill is for the actual ultrasound performance.  The $889.00 “this is not a bill” statement of charges that is being sent to my insurance is for the EKG and laboratory work that was done during my pre-op appointment – fortunately they did not have to re-do the pre-op or that would’ve been a really expensive cold I caught.  I thought I was only going to be responsible for a little over $1,000 for the actual surgery, but after the second woman I spoke with and the varying ways different people code medical procedures, I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to be facing financially.  The good news is that two of the three people I’ve spoken to at the billing department of Emory University Hospital told me the something similar, which is that I can arrange a payment plan once I receive a bill and I don’t have to sort it out beforehand.  So, I opened a tab with $399.00 which I will begin paying in May since I don’t work two weeks this month, and as I receive the next two, I can just call them up and have ’em put it on my tab.  Gotta do what you gotta do, eh?

Earlier today, my surgeon’s secretary gave me a call to make sure we’re still on for surgery tomorrow.  Not sure why she didn’t call the first time, but she did have heart surgery recently, so I’ll give her a pass on that one…  She’s a sweet lady, a bit odd, but in a good way.  While I had her on the phone, I asked her a question about something that has been concerning me.  T.M.I. ALERT!!  My period is due tomorrow.  Of course that’s no guarantee that it will come, but the way things have been going, I figured I’d be in for it on surgery day.  I know that when you have anesthesia, you have to remove all metal from your body – jewelry, piercings, etc., as it will burn you or something of the like.  On top of that, on my first go-round, they told me to get completely undressed under my gown, under-roos and all.  Since you never really know what goes into certain products, and if I were to use an internal feminine hygiene device a tampon, what if there’s some metallic derivative, like how they use aluminum in antiperspirant, and I end up with third degree burns on my delicate lady walls?  As ridiculous as that sounds, I’m not taking any chances.  Maybe they have some kind of surgical menstrual diaper or something, how do I know?  So she puts me on hold to ask the surgeon before I could protest, then comes back on the line and tells me “He said ‘you’ll be fine'”.  Oh, good.  I guess I’ll just ask tomorrow if circumstances call for it, like I should’ve just decided to do in the first place.

So, that’s what’s going on with me.  A little more peace, a little more ease.  I do still have a bit of the collywobbles.  I had one angry outburst due to an upturned bowl of quinoa and broccoli, as well as a couple of stress dreams, but overall, doing much better than the first try.  It’s really strange how this feels physically.  The first time, I was so knotted up that a two hour massage couldn’t fix it.  Then, after the post I wrote about the three poisons, where I realized I had the choice to let go or try to hold onto my metaphoric jello by squeezing it in my fist, I really did let go.  I completely forgot about the knot in my shoulder, it just dissolved.  What I’ve been feeling now is the very same feeling I felt in my body while getting ready for the seventh grade dance where I told my “boyfriend” I’d kiss him afterward; the very same feeling I had five minutes before the end of the school day in seventh grade as I prepared to speed-walk out to my bus while the six girls who bullied me daily chased after me, threatening to “kick my ass”, as was the popular phrase back then.  Whether it was anticipating an exciting first experience or the fear of physical harm, it was the exact same feeling back then, and the chemicals running through my bloodstream are the exact same ones now.  They transported me back to those moments instantly, like a smell that puts you in the most specific time and place.  The fire in my belly makes me wonder if I’m excited, like I’d feel if I was moving to Paris, but the brain says “Holy shit, I’m about to jump off a ten story building and I’m not sure if that’s a regulation air mattress down below”.

I’m experiencing some unease, but I think that’s natural for anyone about to go under for any kind of surgery.  The difference this time is that I’m breathing, thinking and feeling more positive, and absolutely ready to lift this heavy burden that I’ve carried for the last six years so that I can move forward with my life and do the things I’ve been wanting to do.  I’m looking forward to not losing any more precious moments that would’ve been filled with laughter and joy, but instead were filled with self-consciousness and focused on ways to hide my neck.  I think of how many more moments I could’ve enjoyed in my very special trip to Costa Rica, how many more pictures I would’ve participated in, how many more times I could’ve been truly present.  I’m ready to participate in life instead of hiding from it, one step at a time.

I have to be to the hospital at 7:30 a.m. and surgery is scheduled for 9:30, but I’ve been told it will probably be at 10:30 since it’s not a normal surgery day.  I anticipate returning home on Saturday morning.  I will try to post about my experience as I recover and I also have some pictures that I might share.  I also have a few episodes of An Idiot Abroad and Arrested Development to keep me smiling.  Thank you to all of you who have wished me well over the course of the last few months.  I feel surrounded by light and love, and I am smiling.  Here goes…..

 

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You can’t hold onto Jello by squeezing it in your fist.

Things have slowly settled into place since my surgery was rescheduled.  My boss at work retooled the entire schedule so that I could work a full schedule up until the day before surgery.  I know that had to be a pain in the ass, so that felt really generous of her.  Even though I did end up with a couple of extra days off the first week, which makes finances a little tight, at least I’m not out of work for a month.  That’s a huge relief!

I was able to reschedule my tax appointment for a day that does not interfere with work.  That was a concern since my tax guy is way out in the suburbs.  To make tax day easier to take, the three of us (my mom, Anto, and myself) are going to head up to Amicalola Falls afterward and make a day trip out of it with a picnic and a hike.  Lovely.

My mom’s original return flight was April 1st.  Being that my surgery was rescheduled for April 6, we looked into what it would cost to change the return date.  Turns out it would be about $350!!  So, I looked to Ol’ Faithful: Clark Howard’s Atlanta travel deals website to see if there were any deals.  It just so happened that Frontier was running a special to Albuquerque, where my mom lives.  We decided to wait a day or two to book the one way ticket, as we were waiting to hear back from the surgeon’s secretary who told us she might be able to reschedule for March 30.  I went to check if the deal was still on the next day and all the information was replaced with a notice that the Clark Howard show was on vacation in Europe and travel deals would resume the following week.  What luck!  If I hadn’t checked it the day before, I’m not sure I would’ve discovered the fare sale.  So we went ahead and booked with Frontier.  It cost $244, including two checked bags which would’ve run an additional $30 for one on the original flight with United.

As it turns out, I may even just get a night or two in the cabin in the woods, yet!  My mom will only be here for one week following my surgery, rather than two, so if we can get it, we’ll go to the cabin just four days after my surgery.  Knowing that many people with desk jobs return to work after one week, I am hoping that a one hour car ride won’t be too much for me.  I think a couple days to relax in the woods will be just what the doctor ordered.  *fingers crossed*

So, it seems that when you just let go, things eventually work out.  I can’t tell you how stressed I felt the moment the decision was made to delay surgery.  Not knowing how difficult each variable would be to change.  I just had to approach it one thing at a time.  When I wrote the last post, I had chosen to let go and felt a tremendous weight lifted.  Fortunately it stuck.  I’ve remained loose.  It had been like trying to hold onto Jello.  The tighter I clench my fist, the more of it that squeezes out through my fingers and onto the floor.  If I just open up my hand and let it be, it’ll wiggle and dance in its gelatinous glory and remain in one piece.  Then, if it still flops on the floor, it’s because there was an earthquake or I fell asleep, either way, due to events beyond my control.  Not the most graceful analogy, but you catch my drift.

 

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T minus 12 hours…

I’m starting to get butterflies.  I haven’t been able to focus much on the upcoming surgery because I was walloped with a nasty cold late Friday night.  I was basically bedridden all of Saturday; managed to take a shower without passing out on Sunday; had my friend/neighbor to drive me to the airport to pick up my mom, as I did not feel it was safe for me to be driving; but started to do better once I was able to eat some food.  Today I am finally getting stronger and feeling better.  I do have a horrendous cough and it is a concern for me that the anesthesiologist may opt to delay surgery.

At this point, it’s been such a long, drawn out, emotional process that I just want to get it over with already.  I feel like I’m at the end of a very long, very high diving board and as I take my first bounce, they might tell me to climb down and come back another day.  I had an unfortunate experience with a diving board in seventh grade, so I’d rather just cannonball off the side.  Even if it’s not as graceful, at least I’ve taken the leap and I’m in the water.   I must admit, there is, and will probably always be, a part of me that believes that this organ belongs in my body and would do anything to avoid having it cut from my neck.  Delaying my decision, however, is not the answer.  It may be what happens due solely to safety reasons, but it will not be my call.

I spoke with a nurse from general surgery and she said I could take an expectorant, so I went straight to cvs and grabbed some to give my lungs every chance to be as clear as possible by tomorrow morning.  Last night I hovered over a bowl of steaming eucalyptus water – being a soap-maker comes in handy more often than you’d think.  That seemed to have helped based on the way I felt this morning.

When I laugh though….   I sound like I’ve spent thirty years suckin’ on the butt end of a Marlboro Red.  *shudder*  The nurse did say that it’s common to reschedule surgery when the patient has been sick, but she also gave me the option to reschedule or move forward based on how bad I feel.  I actually felt pretty good about halfway through today.  I get short of breath easily, but I’m rapidly gaining strength.  I feel like this is my time to be strong.  This is my time to dig deep and use the power of my body’s central operating system – my brain – and remember how robust my life force is when I think positively.  I remember how relatively easily I made it through my tonsillectomy 13 years ago.  I’ve made it through countless difficult physical situations simply by breathing, letting go, and understanding that it won’t last forever and all I have to do is make it through one moment at a time until I’m thriving.  Someone please remind me of this when I need it.

 

 
 

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Amalgam

This process so far has been surprising me left and right.  I’m very thankful for all the support I’ve been receiving through different avenues over the last few weeks.  Texts, emails, blog comments, phone calls, even hand written letters!  It’s given me a feeling like people are rallying around me, supporting me through this.  The surprising part is how alone I have begun to feel in all of this considering the massive support I’ve been receiving.

Wednesday, the fear started to set in.  I’ve been working on my self talk to get me through it and though I’m not where I want to be, I have faith that when the shart hits the fan, I’ll pull through like I always do.  It’s taking some serious, conscious effort to keep talking to myself and keep steering my focus.  Yesterday I started on Lugol’s solution – basically straight iodine, like the kind you’d use to disinfect topically – three drops, three times a day.  This is the stuff they give after radioactive fallout to protect the thyroid.  It’s also used, in my case, to prepare the thyroid for surgery.  It decreases the vascularity of the thyroid so that there is less bleeding during surgery.  It also blocks the thyroid from making thyroid hormone, so I figured I could expect to feel somewhat hypo, though I’m not sure if I’d feel it in a matter of ten days.

I started on it yesterday and the stomach upset was not too bad, but all of the sudden, while brushing my teeth, I had extreme sensitivity in several teeth.  One in particular.  A few years ago, my dentist noticed a dark spot on an x-ray at the base of one of my bottom front teeth.  She thought it indicated a dead or dying tooth and that I would need a root canal even after tapping and ice confirmed that the tooth was very much alive.  Fortunately, as I sat in the oral surgeon’s chair, he confirmed the viability of the tooth and sent me home saying I didn’t need one.  It must just be an anomaly and to keep an eye on it.  Well….  that’s the one that’s the most sensitive.  Being that one of the more worrying side effects is tooth/gum pain, I’m attributing this one to the Lugol’s.

The other side effects I’ve noticed so far are headaches at the base of my skull; metallic taste in my mouth; and mild stomach irritation.  I’m not prone to headaches, so when I got one shortly after taking my second dose last night at work, I was none too thrilled, though that wasn’t the worst effect.  For some reason I felt hyper symptoms within a short period after my second dose.  My hands were visibly shaky, my heart and respiratory rate went up, anxiety reared its ugly head and all I could do was keep working, breathing, pretend none of this was going on while presenting my happy face to the customers.  Fortunately it passed, the night ended, and now I have a day off.  It was such a surreal moment at one point.  I looked around, realizing that everyone was in their usual work pattern, probably feeling like it’s just another stressful night, nothing seems different.  To look at me, you’d probably think the same of me, unless you know me well.  No one had a clue what was happening behind the smile.  I felt so alone, strong, fragile, sad, powerful, scared, and vulnerable, all at the same time.

This is the part where the people who love me want to do everything they can to help, but they just can’t ease or maybe understand certain burdens. This part I have to do alone and be alone in my body as it endures this process.  As I write this, 40 minutes after taking my first dose, I can feel the back of my skull starting to ache.  I also began the lady pains something fierce yesterday, a uterine migraine, if you will.  So my whole lower abdominal region hurt; my lower back ached; my knees have been particularly painful lately, just squatting down – which I do a lot of in my job; the base of my skull felt tight and sharp and achy; my teeth hurt when I brush them; my fear comes in waves; and on top of that, my ability to care for myself seems to have halted.  I’ve been better.

Last week, I was having these cleaning urges.  I kept feeling like cleaning, organizing, purging useless clutter.  It felt like a really good sign of my internal status.  I cleaned out two closets, reorganized half of my soap room, cleaned out under the bed (half the stuff my cat put there), kept my bedroom, living room, kitchen quite free of daily clutter…  Then, on Wednesday, the fear struck and that all stopped.  My clothing from the last couple of days is strewn about the bedroom, my bed is left unmade, my sink is full of dishes.  It’s not disgusting yet, but if I don’t do something today, I’m going to feel pretty awful.  My pre-op appointment is at 7 a.m. tomorrow and I’d like to wake up to a clean home before that.

So, as part of my conscious effort to stay positive and focused.  As I end this post, I shall proceed immediately to the kitchen, where I will do my dishes, and from there, the clothing in the bedroom shall be put in its proper place and I shall clear my dining table of the debris its collected over the last few days.  You see?  I still have fear, I still feel alone, I still feel frozen and overwhelmed, but only until I say “enough already” and do something about it.  I’m still scared but I have to do only what I can do and then “let go all holds” and trust.

 
 

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