Wednesday, December 2, 2009


My doctor called today: The scan shows no sign of cancer! I've obviously still got radiation in me (ick) but no thyroid cancer lurking anywhere. HUGE relief.

It's not the end of the saga: I'll be monitored for the rest of my life, since it could decide to return anytime. But it probably won't, and this happy news is definitely great for my morale.


(photo from - they are amazing.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Radiation is FUN!

It's official, I'm still glowing from within - I've seen the pictures that prove it. I took the radioactive iodine pill on the 23rd with no ill effects, as far as I can tell. It was a pretty quick process. We went to the Nuclear Medicine Department at the main Oakland Kaiser hospital, waited a few minutes, then I got taken to a generic room by a really nice (and burly) male nurse. A doctor came in and verbally notified me of the basics: drink lots of water for the next day or two, and try to keep the saliva flowing. (To reduce the possibility of blocked salivary glands, and to lessen the amount of radioactivity that might pool up in my head area.) I also needed to avoid other folks for the next two days, but I was prepared for that. They never had me sign anything, which was odd (especially since they sent me my medical report in the mail a few days later and it said I had signed forms stating my understanding of the situation. Hm.) Then I got to swallow the pill, which up til that point had been stored in a neat little metal container. No-one was dressed in a hazmat suit, which made me feel a little better, and it was an outpatient procedure. Great, super, but it's still REALLY STRANGE to voluntarily swallow radioactive anything. I wore the shirt you see here, to the delight of the Nuclear Medicine team. That's me, making those doctors laugh! (It really helps me tho, when I can keep the mood positive. And I like happy doctors.)

The past week has been pretty laid back. I had those two quiet "alone time" days, then was away from work thru most of the rest of the week - which was Thanksgiving week, so no big deal. The most exciting parts of the week involved eating: Wednesday was the first day I was allowed to stop the low-iodine diet. I ate moderately for lunch (an avocado club sandwich at Rockridge Cafe, followed by some frozen yogurt at Tutti Frutti) but really kindof went overboard at dinner. (Delicious Thai food.) Stomachache city. The next day was Thanksgiving, and while I didn't attend an actual dinner (still pretty radioactive) leftovers were brought to me, and..... I ate too much. Ever since then I've been trying to make it up to myself by taking it slow & eating as sensibly as possible. Not fun per se, but at least I feel like my digestive system is starting to function normally again.

I think that there was a time in the middle of the week there where I was finally feeling somewhat hypothyroid - meaning my digestive system had slowed down right when I was piling all this food into my belly. I had just restarted taking the pills, but it takes a week or so to notice any real effects from those. I seem to be on the right track now.

Today I had my scan, to see if there's any cancer left in me. This has been far more stressful than I thought it'd be. Not worried about the actual scan procedure, just concerned about what the results could be. I'm fairly confident that I'll be all-clear, but...... well, it feels like I have something akin to post traumatic stress disorder from my cancer diagnosis in May. I was so cavalier about having that second biopsy as a "formality," then it turned out that I had cancer. So now I don't feel like I can be cavalier about anything. And the worry just totally sucks. If I'm clear, great. If not, worst-case scenario, more surgery. N-O-NO DO NOT WANT. I am not going to take that news gracefully. But I don't think that will happen. Argh.

The scan itself was pretty easy, and everyone was super nice; there really are some friendly people working at Kaiser. That same burly nurse came in while I was lying immobile in the scanner and joked that he wished he had a feather with which to tickle my nose. Smiling real big had to substitute for laughing, since I wasn't supposed to move! Crazy folks. And the tech who operated the machine let me look at the images, since I had asked if I could get a printout (answer: yes, after my doctor gets a chance to review the results.) It looked beautiful - very sci-fi. When he adjusted the exposure (via sliding bar on the computer) the radioactivity made my body look like it was made up of hundreds of stars, with a slightly stronger concentration in certain organs. My throat shone out like one massive star. It was gorgeous, yet creepy, and I ooohed and aaahed over it.

Ultimately the combination of being cheerful and positive while feeling terrified pretty much wiped my brain out for the rest of the day. I gave myself the gift of a grilled cheese and frozen yogurt afterwards. (Gratefully accepted.)

I should have results in about two days. Oh joy!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

In It To Win It

OK, I am officially frustrated with this diet. BUT - I got my blood test on Thursday, and the results look good: I am all set to swallow a pillful of radioactive iodine on Monday at 9am! Maybe not everyone's ideal Monday-morning activity, but at this point I'm almost looking forward to it.

I started the low-iodine diet on the 2nd, stopped my meds on the 11th, and had that blood test on the 19th. I was rushing things a bit - most people going thru this process are off their medication for two weeks before going in for the blood test, but my doctor seemed to think it was fine. After all it is just a test, and my copay is low enough that I was willing to give it a shot. I'm determined to enjoy as much of December as possible, and getting this over with is my top November goal (actually probably my top goal of 2009.)

The test measured my TSH level. TSH is thyroid stimulating hormone, and is basically your body's way (via the pituitary gland) of saying "Hello, I need more thyroid hormone over here!" In people who still have their thyroid it only takes a little TSH to get it going, but if you don't have a thyroid it just keeps on climbing as long as you deny your body the hormone (in the form of a pill.) Pre-surgery my TSH level hovered somewhere around .5 to 1.5. The goal this past week was to get it up to 20+.

The expectation was that the longer I was without thyroid hormone the worse I'd feel. Tired & sluggish, cold all the time, and other gross symptoms. It sounded awful, but was apparantly a necessary part of the process. My body surprised me again, tho, and I've been feeling great! A little tiredness here & there, but nothing unusual, and no other observable symptoms. I'm excited and pleased to have such a hearty constitution.

The blood test resulted in a TSH level of nearly 24, so plans have been made for a Monday morning RAI treatment. I'll walk into the hospital, swallow a pill, and go home. For the following 48 hours I'm supposed to stay at home and limit contact with people to 30 minutes max. Then for the next 5 days I have to basically avoid getting my fluids on things that can't be washed. But that's pretty much the extent of it. So much better than the 2-week isolation the Internet had led me to expect. Thanks a lot, Internet.

The most glorious part: At the end of that first 48 hours I am allowed to stop this low-iodine diet!!! Good thing, too: Last night I was nearly overcome by the feeling of longing brought on by a photo of a grilled cheese sandwich. I'm a model vegetarian, but I am not cut out to be a vegan, unfortunately.

On December 2nd I go in for a scan, to see if there are any bits of thyroid cells or cancer left in me. If so they will glow due to the radioactivity. We're hoping for a clean scan, and I have every reason to expect this will be the case. Once I get those results back I can get on with my life. Very much looking forward to that.

My lab result from Kaiser:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm Hungry.

Friday October 30th I talked to my doctor, and got the ok to start my low-iodine diet a week earlier than the plan had originally called for. So last Monday was day one: and of course I wasn't really prepared. Turns out - hey! - a whole lot of food items have iodine in them! I'm a vegetarian, so I'm used to saying no to certain types of food, but now I can't eat egg yolks, dairy, soy, sea salt, and a variety of other seemingly random food. (Potato skins are apparently a no-no, but the insides are fine. Rice is debatable.)

Fortunately I can eat fresh fruits & veggies, most grains and beans, and kosher (non-iodized) salt is perfectly fine. Thank goodness I don't have to do this on my own: ThyCa's Low Iodine Cookbook has been crazy helpful - I've included a link in the sidebar if you want to download your own copy. It's 90 pages of helpful tips & recipes that have really saved me this week. I thought I would be ok with just cooking vegan items, but there are so many potential iodine pitfalls that at least in this early stage I'm happy to rely on a book that I know is completely safe.

I've been slowly gathering food this week: the photos here are of my new giant box of kosher salt. Since you're supposed to avoid any salted items on the chance that it is iodized, I went for two days without eating any salt - my body was sooooo happy when I finally gave it some sodium!
But the key word above is "slowly" - I am remarkably bad at feeding myself. I enjoy a tasty meal, but often can't seem to plan ahead of time in order to cook for myself. I got my act together on Wednesday: read up on a few recipes and went on a little shopping spree at Whole Foods. I should be set for the next week or so.

In a way it's fun: I like a challenge, and picking out the foods I can eat has been a little bit like a game. I've gotten better at remembering to read the lables on all packages of food, tho I slipped this weekend when I used some hot sauce without checking to see if it had salt in it. Argh.

What I miss most:
Eggs, ice cream, milk, cheese, butter (etc.), crackers, salted sunflower seeds, and the ability to just grab something from the cupboard and eat it without checking first.

Positive things:
I can drink pretty much all sodas, juices, and alcohol! And (previous items notwithstanding) this is a pretty healthy diet, what with the fresh foods and the careful monitoring of ingredients. I'm incredibly lucky to be living in an area with so many wonderful grocery stores. I've found several items at Whole Foods that I'll probably keep on eating after all this is finished, am looking forward to spending some time at Berkeley Bowl, and have rediscovered my love for fresh-ground peanut butter.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Next Level

Ah... been a while. Laziness and a lack of anything new to report are mostly to blame. Things have been pretty good: feeling fine, not really getting around to exercising, eating better in fits & starts, you know, the usual. I'm slightly worried about hair loss, since I feel like I might be coming away with a bit more hair after I comb out my post-shower tangles, but honestly it's hard to say. I don't think it's really a big deal, and if it were it'd be more noticeable.

I am launching into a new treatment phase, tho: Preparation has begun for my radioactive iodine (RAI) therapy. When I met with my doctor last a plan was sketched out between us as to how we'd proceed so I would be most likely able to celebrate all the upcoming holidays. We were going to start getting ready in early October, and hopefully be all wrapped up by Thanksgiving.
Unfortunately, I was under the impression he would contact me (the first step was to switch my medication, so it seemed like he'd initiate that), but that never happened. It's partly my fault, since I was still uncertain whether I wanted to go thru with it. Long boring story short, I got ahold of him last week, and we started in on the whole plan a bit later that I would've liked.

Here's how it will go:

Pt. 1 [began Oct. 24th]: Switch from T4 pills to T3 pills. I will need to go off the medication for the RAI, and T3 drains out of the system much faster than T4. End result: I won't have to sit around being hypothyroid (i.e. "feeling gross") as long.

Pt. 2 [begin in a week or two, still under debate]: Start low-iodine diet. My radiation will be combined with iodine in pill form. The thyroid is the only organ in the body that uses iodine - if there's any remaining bits of thyroid tissue in there, it'll latch onto the radioactive iodine, which will glow in the scans. Then the radioactivity will kill off that last bit of thyroid. [edit: this is my best understanding of how it works, but I suspect there may be some incorrect facts in there. I will know more after I go thru with the treatment.]

Pt. 3 [two weeks after starting the diet]: Stop meds. Yiiiiikes.

Pt. 4 [a week after that]: Get a blood test. Wait another few days for results to come back, hopefully saying all levels are where the doctors want them.

Pt. 5: take the pill, get the scan. This I will have to report back on, as I still have plenty of questions.

So, it's looking like I'll have to miss out on Thanksgiving this year, due to being sickly and possibly radioactive. Bummer. But it's not the end of the world, and I'm still stoked for Christmas and a healthy New Year.
I've certainly been having a great time of it this month, what with birthday celebrations and such. Trying to get a bunch of fun in before being housebound for a while.

As mentioned in "Pt.1" above, I did start my new T3 pills. It's been three days, and I think I feel about normal. Extra tired this evening, but I didn't get a lot of sleep last night. I'll try to get a good eight or nine hours tonight and monitor my energy tomorrow. My heart has been a little jumpy, but it's always had phases where it does that, so I'm not too worried yet. The most awkward part about this is that I have to take one and a half pills a day, now. One in the morning, then a half about three hours after lunch. Then I can't eat for an hour after that. My whole afternoon's eating schedule has to be planned now! Crazy!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Onward & Upward

Finally, finally, here's a photo of my scar! I am so pleased with how it looks - even tho it's fun to joke that I wish it looked a little more badass. It's perfect, as far as scars go - small & neat & symmetrical. I'm told it'll disappear pretty much completely in a couple of years, but I honestly wouldn't mind if it stayed the way it is.

It's been nearly a month since my last update, and in that time I've had my first post-surgery meeting with my endocrinologist (the doctor who is overseeing my hormone levels) and a second, final follow-up with my surgeon.
All the results I've gotten and the discussions I've had this month have been positive (and occasionally downright excellent) - still such a pleasant surprise, every time.

A brief list of facts & info from my endocrinologist visit:

- My thyroid hormone levels are looking great. I'm taking the pill every morning without fail, and apparently my guts are absorbing it well. My doctor is considering making me a little more "hyper", which he thinks can be achieved by my taking an extra half-pill one morning a week. But we're going to hold off on that for now due to the fact that:

- I will probably be doing the radioactive iodine (RAI) therapy in November. I chose the time period because my birthday is in October (as is Halloween) and I'd like to be able to enjoy the month without worrying about all the small but real annoyances of the treatment. If I do it in November I might have to feel crappy thru Thanksgiving, but I will be perfectly fine by Christmas and can therefor welcome (gratefully) the new year having dealt with all my medical issues for the foreseeable future.

- Regardless, it seems that all of the cancer has been removed. My blood test shows no "markers" and while the nodule was sizable (4 centimeters) the cancer was comparatively quite small, and they tell me it was very contained (i.e. didn't look like it was trying to spread from its small spot in the nodule.) The RAI therapy is optional, but is recommended as it's seen as a safeguard against recurrence (which is somewhat common in this type of cancer.) This is another tough decision for me, since even tho the radiation levels will be smallish it's still, you know, radiation, and regardless of whether or not I get the treatment the cancer may never appear again, or it might pop up in ten or twenty years. It's not as crazy-making a choice as surgery was (thank god) - I already think it's probably for the best and will probably go thru with it. Plans have already been made for the RAI, in fact - I am just trying to decide whether I should cancel them or not.

My follow-up with my surgeon went pretty smoothly. My voice is finally improving to the point where I can converse in crowded spaces and can even almost shout a bit! It's a little rough around the edges still, but I'm expecting further improvements, and my surgeon seems to agree. I didn't get a scope up my nose this time - they were in short supply that day, apparently. Instead, my surgeon grabbed my tongue, put a mirror in the back of my mouth, and had me [try to] say "eeeee!" Fun times. He said it looked better in there, at any rate, so it was worth the awkwardness.

So, I'm pretty much just coasting along at this point. It's been an entertaining month - I'm enjoying all sorts of Bay Area activities: A trip to the Academy of Sciences planetarium for a lecture on the Voyager program, Taco Tuesday on Lake Merritt, celebrating a friend's birthday at the Oakland Coliseum (the A's won and there were fireworks after the game!), seeing "The Third Man" at the Castro Theatre..... so much fun in one month, and it's not over yet!

While my life has changed irrevocably since my diagnosis in May, it's a giant relief to know that it carries on, and that even scary things can have relatively happy endings. It's not over yet, but I'm still feeling good about all of this.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Inaugural Blood Test

Had my first post-surgery blood test today, in preparation for my first post-surgery meeting with my endocrinologist this coming Monday. Hard to believe it hasn't even been a month since I had the surgery. Well..... I guess I believe it. Everything still feels a bit new. I'm always worried I'll forget my pill, but it hasn't happened. I'm pretty good at remembering those sorts of things, but I'm also pretty good at worrying needlessly.

I dropped by Kaiser Oakland's lab this morning. The phlebotomist I got was a little odd. He kept asking if I was ready. "Are you ready? Are you sure?" I didn't feel stressed, and I really don't think I looked stressed - getting blood drawn is no big deal (for me.) But he did seem concerned. "Ok.... if you're sure you're ready...." Finally I asked "Are you ready?" To which he said "I'm ready if you're ready." I was ready.
After all that I was afraid he'd stab me in the wrong spot or something, but things went smoothly enough. Now I just get to wait for the results (they should email me a link) and then I get to have the fun fun meeting with my doctor.

Still no real side effects to complain about. A couple of small things that may or may not be related, and which I will discuss with my doctor, but I feel mostly the same. I went for a brief jog around the neighborhood yesterday, for the first time since just before the surgery. I felt soooo out of shape and it definitely seemed like I was dragging along. Do I blame my absentee thyroid, or do I blame the fact that I haven't exercised in a month, haven't been eating all that well, and I was just generally tired after work? I think I'll go with that.

Tomorrow, more exercise. Tonight I go to a friend's house and watch "Withnail & I"! Definitely looking forward to that.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Not so many posts lately: I've been in a spot where I'm more interested in living my life than writing about it. Things are going very well, but my brain is officially exhausted from worrying about the various stages of this little drama. I'm very pleased to have made it thru the surgery and recovery period so well, but soon I'll get to run another gauntlet: radioactive iodine treatment. Once that's over & done with I'll feel like I can actually relax for a bit.

But the good news is: Yes! I am feeling great. The taking of a pill every morning is still a little strange, but I haven't forgotten yet, nor do I expect to. I was anticipating side effects, and haven't felt any. The big ones to look out for are significant changes in energy levels, hair loss, and weight gain or loss. Nope, nope, and nope. All systems normal. Very pleased. I have a meeting with my endocrinologist on August 31st, and we will discuss how my thyroid hormone levels look, and whether they need any adjusting. I do feel fine, but there may be some tweaking that needs to happen.

I had a follow-up appointment with my surgeon last Thursday (the 13th), and he was quite impressed with how I'm healing. He said he'd forgotten how small the incision was. It's true - the scar is only about 2", and aside from a small raised section which he says will flatten out, it's very unobtrusive. I have a few scarves that I'd been using, but he gave me the all-clear to start applying sunscreen, and given this hot weather we've been having, that's the route I'm taking. I bought Neutrogena's new SPF 100+ sunblock - maybe SPF numbers that high are a scam, but right now, for this purpose I'll buy into it! I also got some vitamin E oil - it took some searching, but I finally found some pure oil (i.e. no added ingredients) and it even came in a little glass bottle with a tiny pump dispenser. My surgeon says there's no harm in using vitamin E oil, but he also pointed out that he has many patients that don't put anything on their scars and still heal up beautifully. What's key is covering it up so that it's not exposed to sunlight.
I don't have a current photo of my scar, but here's how things looked before the bandage came off last week:

The most entertaining part of my follow-up appointment was the check-up on my vocal chords. I still have some hoarseness, and I can't project in crowded/ loud situations. I've noticed consistent improvement over the last few weeks, but I still have a ways to go. To check things out, the surgeon took a scope - about a foot long, and bendy - and inserted it into my nose and down my throat. Yup. Wasn't expecting that, but it wasn't really so bad. He applied a nasal spray that somewhat numbed the area, then went to town with the scope. He was very careful with it, but it still felt pretty bizarre. Once it was inserted he had me say "eeeee" a few times and said my left vocal chord was looking weak. He pulled out the scope (slowly) and as I was wiping my watery eyes he said he wanted me to come back again in a few weeks so he could keep track of my progress. He'll be using the scope again. Fun!

I'm starting in on my second week back at work - my first week back was a little tougher than I was expecting, but I think I'm back in fighting form now. It really was wonderful to be able to spend that week after surgery just sitting around and healing. We went for a drive midway thru the week to the Marin Headlands and to Stinson Beach, and it was glorious. I was super tired the next day (even tho I barely did anything but walk around a little bit) but it was wonderful to be able to get some sunshine and enjoy some gorgeous scenery so soon after having surgery. I'm a pretty lucky gal.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Life's pretty sweet.

A week and a couple of days post-surgery, and I'm feeling good. This is honestly a surprise, as I was expecting all sorts of random things to go wrong and/or side effects from the meds. This is how my mind usually works (preparing for the worst), but it does seem like with an operation this delicate there was plenty of room for error - hooray, things going right!

As I mentioned in my last post, things took a while to get back to normal after being under the anesthesia for so long - my surgery began at 9am, and I woke up at 1pm. When I woke up in the recovery room, I could barely breathe - my first foggy memory is of desperately trying to inhale while my lungs dealt with the unexpected fact that they were full of fluid. Well, "full" is likely an exaggeration, but I couldn't breathe, dammit. The nurse taking care of me - a wonderful woman named Cecelia, told me matter-of-factly that I had stopped breathing for a bit and they had had to do some sort of emergency procedure to get me going again. I'm still unclear as to when exactly this dramatic event took place, and am looking forward to getting a little more info. I could barely talk when I woke up (and for the next few days), so asking questions wasn't really much of an option. After I was awake and it was obvious I was still struggling, Cecelia injected me (via my i.v.) with something called Lasix, which basically took all the extra fluid buildup and moved it to my bladder so I could pee it out. I felt better right away. Crazy and magical.

The surgery itsself was a major success - I am SUCH A FAN of my surgeon! Seriously, if you know anyone who has to have their thyroid out, and is covered by Kaiser, talk to me. I've got your man. He's super talented, laid back, and an all-around nice guy. Most importantly, he does this sort of operation all the time (about a dozen a month), so he's got the skills - meaning he was able to save my vocal chords & my parathyroid glands. High-five.

They kept me overnight in a room with two other people. Apologies all 'round for not getting me my own room, but apparently it was a busy day for surgeries, and they were all full up. I got the bed nearest the window, so that was a coup of sorts. The other two women in my room were recipients of new knees (one each, I believe), and so were entirely bedridden during their stay. I was transferred to the room at around 4pm, and by 6ish I was able to hobble around a bit - did the classic slow stroll down the hospital corridor. At least it was sparsely populated, and I had JB's arm to lean upon - and it was on the 7th floor, alongside a bank of windows facing North over Oakland, Berkeley, and the hills, so there was a decent view.

When Cecelia first wheeled me into the room my stomach did some flip flops and I puked - thankfully in the bathroom. Puked once more later in the evening, but besides that I held it together pretty well. Didn't eat anything 'til the next day, and avoided Vicoden, as I heard that makes you extra-nauseous. My main issue was with swallowing and breathing - I definitely felt like that breathing tube had been shoved down my throat rather viciously. The surgeon & his team popped in later in the evening, and pronounced the procedure a success. They had to take out the entire thyroid (bummer) but the cancer seemed to have been isolated within the nodule - they hadn't needed to take out any lymph nodes (awesome!) No-one seemed worried about my throat or lungs, so I decided I didn't need to be, either. It just kindof sucked.

The lady in the bed farthest from me was ancient (I peeked over at her a couple of times on my way to the bathroom) - probably in her 90's, but pretty lucid. Her daughter was there much of the time. The woman nearest me was a self-described cat lady, probably in her 60's. We never spoke directly, but she had a way of verbally grabbing hold of every nurse that walked by - she was a complainer, and felt pretty sorry for herself. Nothing wrong with that after having your knee replaced, but dear lord, she would go on & on. And when she made a couple of phone calls it became clear that she was a shouter (not in anger, just.... shouting across those telephone wires.) Gah, I'm still annoyed at that woman.

All thru the night nurses were coming & going, and even with earplugs & an eyeshade I only got about four hours of sleep. I was pretty excited about leaving the next morning. It was generally a smooth process, and I was at JB's by around 10am. I basically slept for the rest of the day - it felt so good to have some peace & quiet!

More on my recovery later.

Here's a fascinatingly artistic shot of my hands pre-surgery. Got an i.v. in me.

Friday, July 31, 2009


Well. Kaiser called Wednesday and told me the surgery was on for Thursday the 30th again. I didn't have time to update anything here, as I was too busy freaking out and rushing around taking care of things last-minute, something I had really hoped to avoid. The freaking out part was mostly because the communication with Kaiser was so lousy - the surgeon's assistant called at 10:30am and told me I could have the surgery "tomorrow" after all. I asked if I could keep the August 5th date. She said yes. I said I needed to think about it, and she seemed a little annoyed at that. I agonized over the decision, and ultimately decided to wait 'til August 5th to have the surgery. When I called her back an hour later we had an aggravating conversation where it came out that I essentially had no choice after all, and would need to come in the next day, at 6:30am.

So.... it's happened - I had the surgery. I have plenty to write about that experience, but for now long story short, they seem to have done a great job in preserving my parathyroid glands and my vocal chord nerves. The whole thyroid came out, but they say the cancer was isolated in "the capsule" in the nodule, and they didn't need to remove any lymph nodes. I have a follow-up with the surgeon in two weeks and I'll ask more questions then re. follow-up care.

The big issue has been with recovering from general anesthesia. This was my first experience with it, and it kicked my ass. The tube that went down my throat is now making it really tough to swallow, and I am having some lung/breathing issues. (I woke up with fluid in my lungs, pretty gross and horrible. They fixed the majority of the issue pretty quickly, but there's some stuff in there still and it hurts too much to cough it up.) I can't talk very well, but that will apparently be a short-lived issue.

They kept me overnight Thursday, and now I'm at my boyfriend's house, recovering. Very achy, but making do with Tylenol. They prescribed Vicodin, but I don't want to take it as I'm already nauseous and don't want to make things worse in that department.

I've been sleeping a lot today and looking forward to feeling better. Once that happens I'll write more about the surgery day.

Endotracheal tube:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Well..... I got a call from my surgeon's office today: they need to postpone my surgery due to "an issue in the operating room." I guess some equipment might not be working? Or maybe they're moving things around? (Kaiser is in the process of moving to a building across the street, I don't know if my designated OR is part of that move.) Regardless, I am now scheduled to have surgery a week from now, on Wednesday, August 5th. I'm told I'll be the first operation of the day - hooray! That's actually a good thing - I'm hoping my surgeon will be nice and rested and ready to operate - better than being scheduled at the end of the day! And it increases my odds of being able to leave that day, and not having to stay overnight.

The woman who called me today, my surgeon's assistant, apologized repeatedly - apparently they (my surgeon and his office) got next to no notice about this situation, and are left scrambling around trying to rearrange operations - not a fun series of calls for her to make.

So, yes, no surgery for me this week. Next Wednesday is the day! Another week of freedom, another week with my thyroid! My thyroid & I may go hiking this weekend to celebrate. It is frustrating to have to wait, but I think it'll work out for the best.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pre-Surgery Meeting

So, yesterday I had a pre-surgery meeting at Kaiser. I have to give very huge thanks to JB for being awesome and coming with me; it made the experience almost entertaining.

We got there at 8:45 in the a.m., and the morning progressed like this: Check in with clerk, sit in waiting room, wait, fill out paperwork, wait, meet with anesthesiologist, waiting room, meet with registered nurse, waiting room, meet with another nurse, waiting room, meet with admitting clerk/nurse, pay for surgery, finally leave. The whole process took two hours, but we had been warned to expect this, so it wasn't a big issue. And the wait times between meetings weren't too bad. We got to see the same faces several times in the waiting room, as people who arrived at around the same time we did were cycled thru the system. Everyone had a buddy with them, tho some buddies stayed in the waiting room. Most folks were middle aged to elderly, tho there were one or two on the younger side. No one seemed freaked out, and it was kindof amazing to think "We're all here because we're going to get operated on soon." Oh, delicate bodies.

I think nearly every major ethnicity was represented in the nurses and clerks I talked to; that was kindof cool. Also nearly every personality type, which was less cool, but thankfully I got most of my questions answered.

The anesthesiologist was an older man, who definitely had an air of "I've done this a million times before." He explained the basics: no food after midnight the day before the surgery, the anesthesia will be delivered in such-and-such a way, you might feel pukey for days afterwards so stock up on Jello, etc. He told me to stop taking my herbal supplements. I got a pamphlet that is full of happy looking people being put to sleep. So to speak.
He told me all I needed to know I guess, tho I would have liked him to be a bit warmer in his delivery. I understand he has to give this information dozens of times a day, but there's a pretty big disconnect between his boredom and what I can only assume is most patients' anxiety.

Next up was the registered nurse, who was maybe clinically o.c.d. - she delivered all her info rapid-fire, while straightening her pens over & over. Her job was to tell us how the day would go, where we needed to be, and what we needed to do. This is when I found out that I might be discharged same-day. My surgeon had said he wanted to keep me overnight, but my paperwork says I will be outpatient. This was an issue all morning - the confusion over my one-versus-two-day stay. I think it will be straightened out that day - I was told so; if I am struggling and feeling terrible, they will keep me overnight. I want to be out of there asap, but I also don't want to go home if I feel like utter crap.

The other nurse took my vital signs and asked questions about my medical history. Not sure why, as all this should be on record, but whatever. She was a pretty cool lady - much calmer and more personable than the other two folks, but I only saw her briefly. She listened to my heart and breathing, and let me go.

The last person we saw was a grim woman who basically just typed up all the information I'd written down, while we waited and JB's stomach growled.

It all served to make the surgery feel pretty inevitable, which I think is a good thing. I had been worrying recently about not getting another biopsy, and the possibility of it not being cancer and having to lose my thyroid for nothing. But JB made a great point, saying that even if it weren't cancer now (tho it probably is), it could turn cancerous later, when it's harder to treat effectively. Plus, and this comes from me not him, tho we both know it's true, I am a total worrywart, so I will always look at the lump on my neck and wonder. I was wondering even before my diagnosis, and it certainly wouldn't become less of an issue after this experience.

So, yes, it sucks but it looks like surgery is for the best. I think it'll go well, and I think, hope, that I'll recover well and adapt well to the pill-taking.

We shall see. One week from today.

In happier news, we went to the Alameda County Fair last Saturday and had an amaaaazing time. I can't wait to go next year! I wanted to post video, but Blogger was being slow. (Actually, it's probably my internet connection.) Maybe tomorrow. Soon!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Two Weeks.

Well, two weeks from today is the big day. I mentioned it pretty quickly in an earlier post, but my surgery date is Thursday July 30th. They haven't scheduled the actual time of day yet, apparently. I have a pre-surgery meeting on the 22nd, perhaps they'll reveal it then....? I need to ask some pre-pre-surgery questions.

For the most part I'm operating (heh) on a low-level amount of stress at this point, just sortof waiting for the day to get here. I freaked out a little yesterday evening, when I was at Big Longs buying two of those weekly pill boxes (you know, they have a little box for every day of the week.) It really hit me then: I'll be taking pills for the rest of my life. I know, I know, I'm a giant baby about it - lots of people have lots of problems that are so much worse than mine. But still - two months ago life was easy street, and in two weeks I'll be without a vital organ. Assuming all goes as planned, I expect to recover pretty quickly and be back at work in a week or so (semi-part-time, maybe.) But it's just so weird to feel that I have all my parts right now, and two weeks from today there's no going back: I'm tied to the medical establishment forever. I can't even hold on to my long cherished wish to time-travel. (This is a far more crushing realization than you can probably fathom.)

But these are ultimately the complaints of a privileged person. If I take the time to think, I realize that this is just the way my life was always going to go, and down the line I'll look back and think "Yeah, that happened" but will probably not miss the old me so very much. Tho even typing that made me start to tear up, because I don't want to say goodbye to this me, now. It's not the old me yet, it's just "me" - and I wish this didn't have to happen.

This time next year I'm expecting to be in a much better place, damn it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Photographic Proof

Here are a couple photos of my thyroid nodule, to give you an idea of what it looks like from the outside. It doesn't hurt, or feel like anything, really. At some angles you can't see it at all: it's most obvious if I'm leaning forward.
Apparently it's grown about a centimeter in the past year, but to me it looks about the same as it always has - ever since I first noticed it about three years ago.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

At The Medical Center

We drove up to Sebastopol on Wednesday to check out the Amitabha Medical Clinic and Healing Center. Unfortunately we were running late - the appointment was at 10 and we didn't get there til 10:30, so I was feeling rushed and stressed. Fortunately it is a very calm environment, and Elaine was a lovely individual, who tried her best to get a feel for my situation and what the center could do to help. She suggested a few relaxation methods, and gave me some instructions for a "cleanse", which is essentially a way for me to clean out my system by eating super-healthy foods as I prepare for the surgery. She also gave me some herbal supplements to take. Those I feel iffy about - I'm not entirely sure what they do, and I hate swallowing mystery pills. I'll do some research on their ingredients and see what can find out. Of course she told me what they were for - helping to rid the body of toxins - but it's unclear to me if that's totally necessary. Since I'm pretty sure it can't hurt, I'm starting off by taking one or two a day, rather than the prescribed four or six, to see what my body has to say about it all. I'll likely take them thru the middle of next month then take a break. If I feel all full of toxins, I'll start up again. (Just kidding: I'll be more intelligent about the process than that.) Another worrisome thing: Elaine didn't think about the fact that I'll be taking thyroid hormone pills first thing in the morning, and that it might not be a good idea to mix one of the supplement pills with my hormone pills. I actually called her to check on this, and her response was along the lines of "Oh, right. Yeah, don't take them together." Hey! That's not confidence-building!

But I do think I benefited from going - it gave me some alternative approaches to dealing with stress and surgical trauma, and it was great to have someone devote an hour to listening to my concerns. It was a little like medical psychology. The talk of chakras, toxins, meditation, and of visualizing healing light was different from anything I'd get from Kaiser - again, I don't have to accept it all, but I'm happy to have more options available to me. Certainly as regards relaxation techniques and ways to treat my body better. Kaiser has offered me zero information on the former, and as to the latter it pretty much sticks to "eat more fruits and veggies + exercise more." All well and good, but there's so much more that can be done!

The folks at the clinic would like to see me after my surgery, but partly that's because they recommend something called vitamin i.v.s, where they basically inject vitamins into your bloodstream in order to help the healing process. I am both repelled & fascinated by this. We'll see.

The trip up there was great, tho. We found an amazing thrift store, had a tasty lunch, and then walked along the beach at Bodega Bay for a couple hours. Beautiful stuff.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Looking Forward to Tomorrow

I have an appointment tomorrow morning at the "Amitabha Medical Clinic & Healing Center" up in Sebastopol. A friend of mine who specializes in Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends this place. Well, more specifically he recommended the doctor who runs it, but that guy is on "extended sabbatical" (lucky dude) so I will be in the [hopefully] capable hands of Elaine, one of the center's nurse practitioners. Everyone there is in contact with the doctor, and Elaine called him on Monday to ask about his thoughts re. my thyroid cancer. We will discuss options tomorrow.
My main reason for going is to get another outlook on ways to keep my body as healthy & happy as possible leading up to surgery and throughout all the treatments afterwards. The Amitabha center specializes in combining Western & Eastern medical philosophies in treatments of various types of cancer, and I have been told to expect a strong emphasis on vitamins & herbs. I really doubt anyone at Kaiser will offer me anything more than painkillers & thyroid hormone pills after surgery (let alone before), so I'm super pleased to be adding another type of fighter to my team.
It's exciting, because the focus will be on keeping me healthy, not on cutting me open. (Which, yes, is done to keep me healthy, but still doesn't sound like a healthy thing to do. Make sense?)
I'm looking forward to the appointment, and will report back.

You can read about the clinic by clicking here.

p.s. the url of this image (taken from the Center's website) is cracking me up! "herbz.jpg"

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A month to go.

OK, so surgery date is still set, and is seeming like more & more a reality. July 30th is when all the excitement goes down! I have a pre-surgery meeting with the anesthesiologist and crew on July 22nd.

I had my 2nd-opinion-meeting a couple weeks back, and it was helpful. I liked the doctor's attitude - she was a very take-charge lady, and seemed intent on learning as much about me (i.e. my concerns and my medical status and history) as she could during our meeting (which was about a half hour.) Not entirely unexpectedly, she was very pro-removal of the thyroid. She says that the damage I could be doing by leaving it in is far worse than any inconvenience that would come from having it removed. While that's a valid opinion, it'd be harder to accept if it weren't also for the fact that the odds are apparently very high that my latest biopsy was correct, and I do most likely have thyroid cancer. (I've been hoping that perhaps it was a false positive.) As the doctor put it, your average thyroid nodule has only about a 5% chance of being cancerous. BUT, once a biopsy comes back indicating cancer, the stats are flipped, and now you only have about a 5% chance of not having cancer. Rough. Strangely, it's not the thought of having cancer that worries me so much (I am taking to heart all the reports that thyroid cancer is slow-moving and not terribly invasive when caught early on) it's all the other stuff - the living without a thyroid, the radiation treatment, you know - that I've just been wanting to be able to avoid.
But the doctor I saw (her name is Dr. Peng and she's an endocrinologist) was pretty convincing that surgery was a good idea. She made sure to point out out that they couldn't make me do anything, and that it was my body/my choice (yes!), but that if it were her sister, she wouldn't hesitate to give the same advice. She also volunteered plenty of information before I even got a chance to ask, which was comforting. Especially as regards the radiation treatment: Lots of people (myself included) worry about the effects it may have on the ability to have healthy kids, and she says no studies have shown ill effects. Doctors ask that their female patients wait at least six months before they conceive, but apparently this is more due to the risk of hypothyroidism than any damage caused by radiation. Hypothyroidism during pregnancy has been shown to have an adverse effect on the IQ of the child, and there is a strong likelihood that patients will be hypo during the first few months after treatment, as thyroid hormone supplements are adjusted to the correct dosage. According to Dr. Peng the radiation doesn't stick around in the body long enough to cause permanent damage to anything, except the cancer cells it kills on contact. This falls into the realm of "Stuff I can only trust my doctor to know" and since I haven't heard any evidence to contradict her, I'm accepting this information as truth. Pregnancy certainly isn't at the top of my to-do list right now, but I've always wanted kids, so this was (and is) an important thing to me.

I'm still toying with the possibility of going in for a second biopsy, but interestingly Dr. Peng cautioned against this. She says that the new biopsy could come back clean (non-cancerous) but that could be an incorrect result (since every test result has some possibility of being wrong - after all, that's why I'm thinking of doing another biopsy) and if I choose to believe this 2nd biopsy and it's incorrect, I will be allowing the cancer a chance to grow. I suppose the only way to guard against this possibility is to do an exhaustive series of biopsies, and I don't think I'm up for that. Should I be? I don't know! If I do a 2nd biopsy and it does come back showing cancer, I will at least be that much more confident that surgery is a good idea, but then again I think I already know that the results I have right now are probably correct.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Moving forward

Not many posts lately.... I'm in a sortof netherworld of waiting. I've been fighting with Kaiser to get a straight answer as to whether I can get a second opinion outside of my plan, and now I'm not even sure I'm going to bother. At least I finally got some sort of assurance that yes, I CAN see whomever I please (thank you!), but it'll take a few weeks to secure an appointment with the folks I'm thinking of (at UCSF) and I really don't know about waiting that long. As it is now, I have an appointment tomorrow with a lady endocrinologist, with Kaiser. I'm not sure if a second biopsy is in order for tomorrow - probably not. But I will discuss that option, and whether there's any likelihood that my first biopsy could have been a false positive. That's almost too miraculous to hope for, but it needs to be considered - I don't want them hacking open my neck just to realize "Ooops, our bad, not cancer. Enjoy life with half a thyroid!"
I do have a surgery date, but since I'm in a vague state of semi-denial I haven't really told anyone yet, so I'm not announcing dates on my blog yet. But it's so weird to get a letter in the mail from Kaiser that says, essentially, "Hi, your surgery is happening on this date. You're meeting with the anesthesiologist on this [earlier] date. You'll be owing us this much money."

As to how I'm feeling about it all, every day is different. It's basically living with a feeling of overwhelming suspense. I can't let it get to me all the time, but it definitely seeps in. I'll wake up in the morning thinking about life after surgery. I'll be daydreaming and catch myself thinking about all the stuff that could go wrong. But then sometimes I'll feel great, and think that it's not such a big deal. I'm finally getting my head back in the game at work, which is a great feeling. I'm realizing how much I've put on the back burner as I basically freaked out in waves over the past month. Now I'm gritting my teeth and getting on with it, and that feels good. But it's perfectly likely that tomorrow or the next day I'll be petrified again. This is all so dumb, I just can't wait for the scary parts to be over so I can get thru to the other side and see what I really am dealing with - and not just worry about what might happen.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Magic 8 Ball

I dreamt last night that after my surgery the doctors handed me a selection of pills (to regulate my thyroid hormone) and said "Try these, and see which work out for you." A few were tiny, some were big, round and flat, and one was smallish and shaped like a ball. It was white and had a blue fluid inside, with something floating within that fluid, like little pill-sized magic 8 ball. It didn't say anything in my dream, but I'd like to imagine that this little pill had a fortune floating within it, and that it said "All signs point to yes."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Preserving my beautiful voice.

Still waiting to schedule surgery. Technically I'm waiting for them to call me, tho I can call & schedule any time. I've been mulling over the best time to have this whole business done, and am probably going to aim for mid-July. This will be a slow time at work (I'll be taking at least a week off) and will allow me to fully enjoy the 4th of July and my beloved San Francisco Silent Film Festival.
I emailed the surgeon today and asked for some details re. the potential for permanent vocal cord damage during surgery. I'm slightly nervous about surgery, but really nervous about nerve damage in there. The idea of being under anesthesia & having my throat cut open bothers me less than the thought of having a permanently messed-up voice. I know it's rare, but it could happen. I asked: What does he do to protect the vocal cord nerves, and how often has he seen permanent damage occur in his own practice? His response:

I use an endotracheal tube ( the breathing tube) that monitors the nerve that moves the vocal cords in addition to identifying the nerve and preserving it during surgery. I have seen permanent injury twice so far. Fortunately, one of the patients voice recovered to her satisfaction. The other one where it occurred was in a very large tumor (the size of a grapefruit). I hope that helps. I will let my scheduler know you are waiting for surgery.

Deepak Gurushanthaiah, M.D.

I think this is satisfactory. I'll still worry, but at least I know the odds of me being permanent-injury-recipient #3 are pretty slim. I do find it amusing that he actually used the "tumor the size of a grapefruit" analogy. Bleah.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Shower time!

In the shower today, I got to thinking, as one does. I love a good shower, and it's one of the few times during the day when I am forced to concentrate without any distraction (besides soap.) Occasionally lately it's been a time where my mind just spins thru its catalog of worries for a bit, looking for something useful to hang onto.
I think I happened upon a helpful analogy this morning. A big part of my frustration this week has been linked to the fact that from here on out I will have to take a daily pill in order to function well. I can miss one or two days and make up for them, but ideally I will take a pill every morning, forever. Argh, right?
As I was standing there in the shower, I realized: My plan, without formulating it as such, has always been to take a shower every morning for the rest of my life. You don't see me complaining about that. In fact, I'd feel gross if I didn't. Granted, there are times where I can go days without a shower if forced to, but you wouldn't want to be around me. So. It's not the deepest insight in the history of brains, but it'll serve me well enough for now. Pill, shower, good morning.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Optimus Prime as a source of inspiration....?

It's absolutely ridiculous, but I can't stop thinking about one of the lines from the upcoming Transformers movie. In the trailer, Optimus Prime (at least I think it's him) can be heard intoning:
"Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing."

Yes, it sounds like a messed-up Hallmark card, but it also really kindof sums up my feelings lately. Everyone's going to have something happen to them in their lives that's kindof crummy, at least, and devastating at worst, and you can rarely predict when this is going to happen. The best you can do is try and take that event, get through it, and hope to come out the other side the stronger for it. Ideally you can take what you learned and use that knowledge to help people who are only just hitting that brick wall of awfulness.
As of a week ago my thought process regarding this was pretty vague, just knowing that something was probably out there that wasn't much fun, but surely that was decades away. Now that something scary is knocking on my door ("the door of my life...." - can I get that on a card as well?), I'm having to reorganize some of my priorities and long-term vs. immediate goals. It's a wrenching process, but probably ultimately for the best. (Not the cancer, eff that, but the ways in which I'm being forced to excersize my brain and my emotional responses to things.) This isn't the worst thing that could happen to anybody, and for that I'm thankful: I have time to think about things, and the expectation that the worst that will come of this is a little daily annoyance in the form of a pill. And maybe I'll hit the jackpot & come out of this a wiser human being?
Thanks, Optimus.

Check out the trailer. Yeah, it's pretty much the story of my life from here on out. Especially the sand-bot. Or, no wait, the ocean-bot!

Transformer "Revenge of the Fallen" theatrical trailer from Bay Films/Michael Bay Dot Com on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hurrah, Doctors!

Had my meetings today - both went well. My surgeon, Dr. G., seems pleasant, if a little intense. He warned me that I'd have a scar (about 2" most likely), which I was aware of (and not too worried about.) He had to tell me about the risks, which are always tough to hear about, especially the "we might nick your vocal cord nerves" part, but he did say the chance of that happening is "under 1%." Good! I'll get a call from his office in a week or so, and will then schedule my appointment - probably for around a month from now.
My second meeting was even more informative. Most of my stress over the past week has revolved around whether or not I'll feel like the old me after surgery and hormone replacement therapy. Dr. Budayr is such a wonderful guy: So laid back and cool with discussing any concerns. He pointed out that the methods he uses are designed to minimize any discomfort, and told me to stop reading all the stuff that's stressing me out, since it probably doesn't even apply to me. I knew this on some level already, but having a professional tell me that was helpful.
After they take out the thyroid they will immediately put me on a replacement pill, rather than just let the remaining hormone drain out of me, as I'd heard. This may or may not be the perfect dosage for me, and there may be a little tinkering, but essentially that will tide me over for about a month, while I heal from the surgery. They will then take me off the pill for a period of about two weeks (while I am also on a strict low/no-iodine diet) and then I get my first radiation scan! Can't wait! (It's pretty non-traumatic, actually, from what I hear. I'll swallow a radioactive iodine tracer, they'll do the scan, the end. Tho I will be radioactive for a while afterwards. Stand back!)
I'd been worried about going for an extended priod of time without thyroid hormone, and thus suffering the effects of being severly hypothyrodic. Read about it if you want: it's no picnic. But it sounds like I should be able to avoid feeling much other than the fatigue & sluggishness during the two weeks before the scan. Afterwards they will start me on a thyroid hormone pill that will be tailored to my needs (i.e. my body's rate of absorption, the way it interacts with my other hormones and chemicals. Everyone's different.) Dr. Budayr tells me I will not only feel like the old me after this is all settled, I may even feel better, since they tend to overcompensate a bit on the hormone replacement, which would result in marginally better energy & mental acuity.
All this news is a far cry from the doom & gloom I've been reading about. Obviously I still realize this is cancer, surgery, and the replacement of a vital hormone we're talking about here. But I've been so angst-ridden this past week, it's affected how I've felt all over. I feel much more at ease for now: I think I've got a better handle on what I can reasonably expect, and have a better concept of how to plan my future battles.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Meetings Tomorrow

I have two important meetings scheduled for tomorrow: First with the surgeon, then with my endocrinologist. I'm going to try to get a list going, so all my major questions are on one page, since I would otherwise no doubt forget some key point. I'll ask about the option of getting a 2nd opinion, tho I don't really see how I can ignore an initial diagnosis of "You probably have cancer." Even if I got a result back saying all was clear (unlikely), I'd still wonder if I was doing more harm than good to my body by ignoring that first diagnosis. I think I know what the doctors are going to tell me, based on what I've heard from people who have been thru this process, but rather than speculate now, I'll wait until I get the lowdown tomorrow, and will list the highlights here.
So far the worst thing about all this has been the stress of imagining what might happen. Logically I expect that this time 6 months from now all will be well and I'll feel stronger for going thru this experience. But right now I'm just sifting thru a lot of feelings - mainly anticipation of all the things that could go wrong. A dumb and useless thought process, but impossible to avoid completely. Check out Daniel Gilbert's TED Talk link to the right there for an idea of what I'm using to battle these insecure thoughts. It's helping. So is making myself eat even tho I'm stressed out and have no appetite. Next step: keeping my body exercised so it's better prepared to weather the coming storm!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Let me introduce the situation.

So to start with, here's the big news.  A week ago (Tuesday May 19th) I was informed over the phone that I most likely have thyroid cancer.  Woot!  
Some backstory:  A few years back (maybe three or so) I noticed a lump in the front of my throat that hadn't been there before.  "Hmmm," says I, "Perhaps I should have that looked at."  My regular doctor saw nothing wrong at the time (which is about when I should have fired him) but when I next saw him, around a year later, he agreed that there was an obvious lump, which turned out to be a nodule on my thyroid.  Apparently these are quite common, and often nothing goes wrong with them, they just sit there on your thyroid, not doing much.  Regardless, my doctor referred me to an endocrinologist, a lovely man named Dr. Amer Budayr.   Dr. Budayr performed a fine needle aspiration biopsy of the lump, and tho I was nervous about the procedure at the time (you lie on your back while the doctor sticks a giant needle into your throat), it really ultimately wasn't so very bad, and the results came back within a week - no worries, nothing wrong.   A follow-up appointment was scheduled for a year later, i.e. a couple weeks ago.  I felt much more at ease with the whole needle situation, and I was so calm that Dr. Budayr gave me two organic lollipops!   Hooray!
Last Tuesday I got the call - there's some suspicious activity in the cells of the nodule.  The folks at the lab have diagnosed the activity as indicative of papillary thyroid cancer, and my endocrinologist recommends surgery to remove the thyroid.   It's hard to describe the feelings that hit me when I heard the news:  A general sense of horror and helplessness, even tho the doctor assured me that thyroid cancer is incredibly treatable and in people my age the "fatality rate is 0%."  It's still cancer.  And when I have my thyroid out, I will have to supplement the missing thyroid hormone (which regulates one's metabolism along with other things) by taking a pill every day.  That alone is enough to make me super frustrated.  I've never had to rely on medication for anything other than birth control, and I've always entertained the possibility of being able to pick up & leave (town or country) when the mood strikes - now that's much less of an option.  Additionally, mortality becomes so much more tangible when you think about having to take a pill every single day, for the rest of your life.  
So my week since hearing the news has been a roller-coaster of emotions:  feeling that "I can totally beat this, it could be so much worse" interchanged with "oh my god, oh my god, oh my god this sucks!"  I can be a stressy-cat, and this is kindof a stressful situation, so it's been a time of talking myself out of obsessing over things that I really can't change right now.  Attempting to inform myself has been a priority, but searching for info online has been semi-helpful at best.  (I suppose that shouldn't be a surprise.)  I see a lot of people venting on various forums about how crappy they feel - and while that's not unusual for the Internets, it's absolutely terrifying and unneeded for a newly diagnosed person such as myself.  I finally found some useful fact-filled sites, and have gotten some wonderful book recommendations, so I'll do my best to share those with you.
The purpose of this blog is to share my experience.  For you to read if you're curious, for me to reference later on, and for anyone else dealing with thyroid cancer to scan and maybe pull some useful info from.   Yes, there will be venting, but I'll try not to complain for complaining's sake - if I'm feeling poopy and want to write about it, I will hopefully have something of substance to add to that post.
I will attempt to be coherent and provide photographic illustration when I can.  
Definitely feel free to add comments or email me with questions.  This is scary, no lie, but I have a wonderfully supportive family, an amazing boyfriend (who didn't sign up for this, but is a total champ for rising to the challenge) and lots of people willing to lend an ear.  And hey, it's gotten me to start a blog, something I never thought I'd do!  (Yay?)