Friday, September 13, 2013

Building up

It's been a beautiful, challenging, hard, delicious week. Randy and I managed to steal away to Nevada & Utah for five whole days alone- five days with no kids! That hasn't happened since we first got together, directly after which, we got pregnant. ;) It was wonderful to have that focused time to just be a couple and have conversations sans interruptions.

As we prepared for the trip I had a few concerns (mostly anxiety based) that managed to melt off as we got closer to leaving. I was excited to go and we drove straight down to Wendover, NV in one swoop - 14 long hours of driving.

What I didn't expect was that this would give my brain time to mull over everything that's coming. Not from a planning perspective.. I don't even think I was thinking about it, per se. It just was churning in the back of my mind. My lymph nodes were really bothering me on the way down, so much so that I took Advil because I was so uncomfortable. This of course distressed me.. why are my lymph nodes swelling and why are they hurting? I know the likely answers, the 'crow flies' answers that go from symptom to diagnosis without passing go, and I just have to go down that rabbit hole a little bit from time to time.

I think I thought that after my endo appointment that I would be reassured that I was 'just being dramatic' and that the lymph nodes would settle down because they're only activated because I'm a freak. But it didn't reassure me, and they're acting up still, and this just keeps me processing through the possible outcomes. Add to this that I had mentioned some other random symptoms to the endo and she made a face, paused and said, "Well.. that's definitely a symptom of other things that should be checked out, but for our purposes I don't think it's part of this." She didn't say more but it left me wondering what the hell she was talking about.

Basically at night, I can get very, very cold. I lay in bed and I shiver hard and for a long time, no matter how high my electric blanket is on, no matter how many blankets are piled on top of that - it's a fever-like chill with no fever. After I fall asleep I wake up in a wet sweat from head to toe. This is relatively recent, it started not long before the swollen/angry lymph nodes. I sometimes have a deep itch all over my chest that I can't scratch away. It's not all the time but it is enough that I noticed it and wondered if I was having an allergic reaction, it was so intense.

Unfortunately I visited that quack, Dr. Google, who puts these two things together in ugly ways. I guess I needed the reminder that Dr. Google isn't my friend, and to stay the hell away from him at all costs. And so I am... but I can't unsee what it said, and in concert with my endocrinologist's comment, I'm a wee bit nervous.

 Instead of dancing with that too much, I am focusing on one thing at a time. I went ahead and made an appointment with my family practice doc, to whom I will present the symptoms and let her decide which track to take. I'm not going to get really worried unless she is, but this hangs around the back of my mind like a little bug buzzing my ear now and then.

The thyroid cancer issue- my symptoms now are basically that I have now, several swollen lymph nodes that aren't going away and are at times painful. Sometimes a mild dull ache, sometimes an intense pinching feeling, it always comes and goes. Some days it doesn't hurt at all, some days it hurts off and on all day. I'm also clearing my throat many times per day which makes me feel like one of those grunty old ladies on a public bus who is snorting and coughing and making all kinds of gross noises just to breathe. Blech.

So the plan for now:

Monday & Tuesday I will have Thyrogen shots. These will stimulate any remaining thyroid (or cancer) cells to release TSH, which they can then measure to track over time. My current levels went from .2 to .7. Other than the fact that you do not want it to rise over time (because this indicates the presence of cancer), I don't know how clinically significant that change is, or if it's significant at all. This test basically gives me two shots over two days, and then a blood draw- and that number will mean more than the other two do. It's not a diagnosis tool, more a tracking-over-time tool but it can be informative in the short term with context, too.

On the 24th I meet with my family practice doctor to look into these other symptoms. Not really getting too far down the road with this in my head, just leaving it to the doctor. I really can't worry about one more thing.

On October 4th I will have the ultrasound that will look at all of the lymph nodes in my neck and especially these enlarged one, to look for size and signs of micro-calcifications which can indicate the presence of cancer.

I think the thing that sucks the most about this entire thing is that anyone can have swollen lymph nodes and be just fine. I am sad at how much time and energy and heartbreak I go through having to worry again and again if the cancer has come back.

I read on a bulletin board I visit that a woman was talking about how worried she was all the time, and someone responded that they felt like they'd turned the 'worry corner'. I loved reading that, it reminded me that it won't be like this all the time. I'm not even out of remission yet, I have four more years of clean bills of health to get through before I can say I'm cancer free, really, so it's okay if I'm a little freaked out. I had cancer less than a year ago.

In the meantime, along with all of these appointments are many other things equally energy-draining going on concurrently. I expect the next six weeks to be a bit of a challenge and I'm trying to wrap my mind around getting ready to feel good, rather than expecting to feel bad. It's not easy when all I have is worries, and no information, but I'm trying.

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