Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Where I am

I am...a little over a week from starting my much dreaded low iodine diet. Commercially prepared baked goods and bread are not allowed due to iodate/iodine conditioners that are often added to the dough. One of my good friend's husbands has made some homemade bread for me. In fact, I was given a loaf today and it is quite splendid. I'm not looking forward to this diet, but I feel much better after learning that I will be getting Thyrogen injections, thus eliminating the need to discontinue my Levoxyl and become hypothyroid. So, while I'm not looking forward to it, I'm also not in angst about it.

I am...going to be receiving my radioactive iodine in a little less than a month. I was planning on staying at a hotel that weekend because of my 4 yr. old. However, I was having some ethical issues with this due to the fact that housekeeping would not know how to properly clean up after me (keeping my laundry separate and washing it twice). Another friend offered up her lake house to me for the weekend. Which I gratefully accepted. I will be able to properly clean after myself thus eliminating potential accidental contamination of others who come behind me. It really doesn't entail that much extra...just double wash stuff that your secretions may come in contact with. So, again...no angst.

I am...feeling much better than a couple of weeks ago. I'm back to work full time with call and so far, so good. I'm still exhausted, but not like those first couple of weeks. I can at least keep one foot in front of the other these days and plug along. My low back is increasingly hurting and I have frequent headaches. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with anything...but, it's what I'm currently experiencing. Also, my legs are cramping less, but still cramping badly.

I am...eating much better, but gaining weight. Very discouraging, but at least I'm eating better.

Where I am these days is with lots of friends and all in all in a very good place. I'm thankful to be where I am.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Over the hump?

I think I just may be over the hump. I have had several good days in a row, even while working. I still get that tired achy feeling at night some times and my legs hurt. But, that too seems to be getting better. Fewer and farther between, anyway. I do think one of the keys it seems, for me is allowing at least an hour after taking my Levoxyl before I eat.

A friend who has Hashimoto's thyroiditis and has been going from doctor to doctor to find someone who will take her complaints seriously is now taking Armour. She's going to a medical doctor who practices in alternative medicine. Seems the best of both worlds. Someone who understands the body's physiological functioning in the traditional and non-traditional sense. Anyway, she mentioned that absorption is not an issue with Armour, as she takes it sublingual (under her tongue). When drugs are taken in this manner, they get into your body nearly as quickly as if they were given intravenously. So...I'm wondering if the same could be done for levothyroxine drugs. Obviously, I'm no pharmacist. It may be that levothyroxine needs to be administered on a more sustained basis to provide your body with the metabolic demands it requires. I'm only speculating. But, nonetheless, how great would it be to just pop it under your tongue and then go about your day?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Does it really take that long??

A colleague at work who has Hashimoto's thyroiditis told me earlier this week that regarding me, someone asked, "Do you think it can really take that long to recover from a thyroidectomy?" She of course, replied, "YES! It takes a while for your body to adjust to a total thyroidectomy."

I have mixed feelings about that conversation. The first thing that comes to mind is that it was difficult for me to believe that the recommended 4 weeks before returning to work wasn't just too much. Secondly, I'm a little taken back that perhaps someone thinks it's taking me a 'while' to recover and that they are in disbelief about it. Thirdly, the surgery itself was actually nothing. The last major surgery I had was my knee: ACL reconstruction and meniscus repair. The meniscus repair meant that instead of just shaving off the pieces of torn meniscus, they tried to repair what was their...it was sutured together to try and save it. This meant 6 full weeks of total non weight bearing on that leg, and I was in an immobilizer from hip to ankle for that same period of time. So...when I say that the thyroid surgery was nothing....believe me, it was. Which, I think is partly to blame for my mentality of thinking that I should just bounce back quickly from this. It's not about the surgery itself. The problem, I am finding out, is metabolism. The problem is my body trying to adjust to this new source of thyroxine. And, as I am also learning...timing is everything! My stamina is better if I take my medication at least an hour before eating...45 minutes will work, but an hour seems better. And, the other thing I've learned is that you have to eat to fuel your body...not feed your emotional needs.

My endocrinologist confirmed my surgeon's time-off recommendation by saying that it is usually about 5 weeks before levels are steady enough for your body to feel good. I just finished week 4 and although I'm tired...I'm not nearly as tired as I was this time last week. I believe that every day my energy and stamina are getting better. So...to answer simply: "Yes...it does take 'that long'." However long 'that' may be.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Headaches + bitter taste = hypochondriac?

How much longer will this crazy bitter taste remain?! It's awful. Everything I eat tastes so bitter. I wish I could say that it's really affected my weight, but it's been minimal. It hasn't affected my appetite...I still want food, it just tastes horrible when I actually eat it. Instead, it just leaves me very dissatisfied.

Another thing I've noticed is a frequent headaches. And, my beloved ibuprofen doesn't even touch them. Nor does caffeine. I wonder if maybe I'm not drinking enough because everything I drink tastes bitter as well and maybe I'm dehydrated? It sort of feels like those dehydrated sort of headaches.

I wonder if I'm just crazy and feeling every little thing in my body now and 'wondering' about it because of this diagnosis of cancer? That's probably not too far off. I had an older friend who had recently been diagnosed with cancer and said that it suddenly makes you analyze every little thing you feel and in the back of your mind, you can't help but wonder..."does this have something to do with my (insert your cancer here)?" I'm sure it is normal to some extent to go through this as you're finding your way from denial to acceptance. I just thought I could bypass this one since I really do feel good about this type of cancer and it's prognosis. It's crazy how that one little word means so much, though.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bit by bit...

It's week 2 back at work and I think that bit by bit, things are getting better. I'll be the first to admit that last week kicked my ass. And, last night after I got home was no picnic. However, although I can't quite articulate the difference...I feel better than I did this time last week. And, I think that I am improving bit by bit each day.

My energy levels are still unpredictable and some days are better than others. Maybe it's knowing that right now, my lab work is looking like my dosage of Levoxyl is on target, even though it's too early to tell. Maybe it's being back at work and feeling productive and needed. Whatever it is...placebo or reality, I'm thankful. I feel pretty good today, anyway. I may not tomorrow, or the next day, but I am thankful for today at least, and I will try to remember it during my next bad day.

It seems this too is just like eating an elephant: It is impossible to eat the whole thing at once. You have to do it a bite at a time. You know...not that anyone would ever want to...but, if you ever find yourself in the situation of having to eat one. Sort of like my cancer...not that anyone ever wants cancer...but, if you have to pick one to have...pick papillary thyroid cancer.

RAI is scheduled for Friday the 13th (March)

The wheels are in motion for my radioactive iodine treatment. It will be scheduled for Friday the 13th, in March. And, I don't even consider it bad luck. In fact, I set the date. Not because it is Friday the 13th. The date has no significance to me other than it is before a week long vacation and I'm trying not to miss any work.

I dread the 2 week and 2 days of low iodine diet. However...I received some really great news last week. My endocrinologist, whom I absolutely love, is going to let me keep taking my Levoxyl and I will be getting Thyrogen injections two days before the treatment and the day before the treatment. This is great news because I don't have to get hypothyroid. I can be functional! The Thyrogen will basically stimulate the remaining thyroid tissue to take up the iodine.

I realize there are a couple of schools of thought about this versus the conventional way of coming off of your medication and becoming hypothyroid. I feel confident in my doctor's opinion. I have researched it and asked him the questions I wanted and he answered all of them to my satisfaction.

I hope this isn't just the honeymoon phase of my relationship with my endocrinologist. But, I really really like him. And, I'm so happy about that. I've heard more horror stories of how patients don't trust their endocrinologists and don't feel as though they are being treated properly.

I'm actually in awe of how well things seem to be going for me. I love my surgeon, I had a great operation, I can't believe how well I was treated in the hospital (Vanderbilt), I have had a really good recovery thus far, and I am really pleased with my endocrinologist. However, if I begin to write in a few weeks that I really love this new low iodine diet and I think I'll probably adopt it as a new way of life...future note to self: Have head examined immediately.