Sunday, December 31, 2006
My heart rate monitor tells me that my fitness level (based on my resting heart rate, I guess?) is "Elite". It tells me my number is 56... that number is not even on the chart for women, which only goes up to 40 (anything over 40 is "elite"). Hm. I'm skeptical though and I think either their chart is foo-foo or the HRM is. The book that comes with the HRM also tells me some gobledegook about how walking for 40 minutes burns an equal number of calories and MORE fat than running for 30 minutes. Being the maker of HRMs, shouldn't they be aware that high-intensity exercise is superior for fat loss than low intensity aerobics?! According to this source and plenty of research, "HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) has been shown to burn adipose tissue more effectively than low-intensity exercise—up to 50% more efficiently!" Anyway, the HRM still beeps incessantly when I get my HR over 170, which is darn near impossible for me to avoid since I started taking the cytomel. I guess I will have to just turn off the sound - anyone out there have a Polar and know how to tell it not to beep without muting it?
As for the LID, I think I messed up yesterday because I ate some pre-packaged chicken that it turns out has a small amount of sodium in it. Any meats eaten on the LID have to be "fresh" meaning from the butcher, since prepackaged meats are often injected with sodium or soaked in broth and there's no telling if that contains iodine. I had just assumed that pre-packaged meats that say "100% natural, minimally processed, no preservatives" are safe for LID, but upon close examination, ALL of them at the grocery store contain sodium, sometimes as much as 30% of the USRDA!!!! Holy cow. The butcher at the grocery store we went to didn't have fresh chicken, only beef and pork, soooo... we drove all the way out to Fairfax to go to Wegman's to get REAL fresh chicken from their butcher, which cost an arm and a leg, but I guess I don't have much of a choice. Wegman's is awesome, by the way! It's like a giant Whole Foods - tons of organic and bulk foods, grains, etc.
We also went to Costco, which is where I normally buy fruits and veggies in bulk, and stocked up. I bought a bunch of eggs and hard boiled a pile of them yesterday. I may have cooked them too long... I had some (whites only) for breakfast this morning and it took forEVER to peel them - the shells did NOT want to come off... I can see how that's going to go as I get more hypo. I'm going to cook some more meat today and steam some veggies so I have some meals ready to go.
So far so good......
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Avoid These Foods and Additives
- Iodized salt and sea salt. Non-iodized salt may be used.
- Seafood and sea products.
- Foods or products that contain these sea-based additives: carrageenan, agar-agar, algin, alginate, nori.
- Dairy products.
- Egg yolks or whole eggs. Egg whites are acceptable.
- Commercial bakery products.
- Red Dye #3. However, Red Dye #40 is OK.
- Most Chocolate (for its milk content).
- Some Molasses.
- Soybeans and most soy products (soy sauce, soy milk, tofu).
- Red kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans, and cowpeas. Other diets do not limit beans.
- Rhubarb and potato skins.
- Iodine-Containing Vitamins, and Food Supplements.
Limit the Amounts of these Foods
- Fresh meats. Up to 6 ounces per day of fresh meats are fine on the low-iodine diet.
- Grains, cereals. Up to 4 servings per day.
So that's it. I'll be eating a pile of egg whites and fruit and vegetables until January 10. And hoping I don't gain weight beyond water weight. I'm less worried about the diet than about going off my medicine. I am so ready to be done with all the business of getting rid of the cancer (for now, at least!) - I just can't wait for next week to arrive.
It is, of course, sad that President Ford passed away; however, he expired conveniently just before a holiday weekend, and we now get not three but FOUR days off!! How lucky is that?
Thursday, December 28, 2006
The heart rate monitor has not endeared itself to me yet... The fault is mine -- I did only a basic skimming of the manual before I started off, and it kept beeping at me once I started running. I had to turn off the exercise mode, so it didn't record my time or HR. But I was watching the HR display, and it stayed between 160 and 175. High for me for a moderate run, but I felt good.
The shuffle is fun. It's so cute and tiny. It was nice to have a change and the music made the time go by faster. I won't use it all the time - especially when the trails are crowded, because you can't hear the bikers sneaking up on you. Some of them rudely blast by without any alert anyway, and it's doubly disarming when you don't hear them. There is one biker who sometimes - instead of calling, "Passing on your left," will yell at people who don't wear enough reflective gear (it's pretty dark at 6 am). Once he yelled at me, "Can't see you in RED!!!" when I forgot to wear my reflector vest. Sheesh! I've heard him yell similar things at others. Today he (I'm sure it was him, it had to be him!) yelled at me again, "Look at that sunrise!!" He's a chatty fellow. It would have startled me without headphones in... I almost had a heart attack, I think! The sky was pretty. Pink and orange and bright. I love seeing the sun rise in the mornings.
Thank God I can still run. Seriously, I am so thankful for that. I know I am fit and healthy, even though I complain about detraining. The reason it is so frustrating and bothersome is that I'm not choosing it - it's happening to me beyond my control. Like everyone, I can be hard on myself. Sometimes it's really a good thing - it makes me motivated, driven, and disciplined. It also has its negative and angsty moments. I do struggle to find balance in my life - it was a struggle even before cancer. And it is a different challenge now because finding balance and peace is also about accepting cancer and all its limitations. It's hard to stay positive when it's just happening to you.
At this point, I just want to say that I'm not trying to glorify my challenges and difficulties. I know people struggle with all kinds of things - there are way worse things that could be happening to me besides thyroid cancer. I know I am lucky, and believe me, just the experience of thyroid cancer has brought that home for me in a way nothing else could. Not a day goes by that I don't think about that - how lucky I am in so many aspects of my life and how thankful I am that I'm alive to struggle and hurt and be angsty and peaceful and joyful. But also, this is my experience. Lots of people say, oh it's the Good Cancer - it will all turn out fine in the end, etc. I know that's true, and people mean to be comforting when they say it, but in some way it belittles what I'm going through.
That being said, though, I have to reiterate that having cancer has made me realize how much grace I have in my life. Cancer can be a blessing in disguise. It has been for me. It has brought me closer to my family, brought my priorities into focus, and changed my perspective on life. And that whole bit about learning acceptance and self-love? Cancer is a special impetus for that. It becomes all that much more important and, in some ironic way, easier. Because (this is going to sound really cheesy) I realize that life is a gift, with all its warts and quirks, and every moment is precious, and I am thankful just to be here for it. So there - everyone needed a dose of Hallmark today, right?!
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Since I started exercising again about a week and a half after surgery, I have tried to get some exercise 4-6 days a week. I've managed to do 30-50 minutes of cardio 3-4 days a week and lift weights 2-3 days. I've lost a good bit of both strength and endurance in the weight room. I haven't been able to tolerate lifting as heavily or for the same amount of time. I haven't had any rhyme or reason to my training, it's just been whatever I could tolerate at the time. Or was in the mood for.
In some way it's like a weird science experiment. I feel very detached about it all, like I'm just observing the process as my body systematically detrains. I'm getting softer and fluffier. My metabolism is slowing as my muscle mass and activity levels decline. Part of me is Really Bothered by these developments. I've never been a rail, but I was leaner prior to the surgery, and stronger. I could eat like a linebacker and maintain my weight. Now... ugh. And the other part of me? The part that is tired? Does. Not. Care. At all. We have to nurture that part a lot. It's needy and fussy.
I'm already thinking about my training plan for the 10 miler... and a new routine in the weight room... Hmmm...
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Maybe it's because I grew up Catholic, but the Exorcist is the scariest movie of them all, in my opinion. I was a freshman in college the first time I saw it (my parents would never let me watch it when I was younger), and I actually made TWO of my girlfriends stay with me that night because I was so creeped out. We Catholics take evil business seriously. Heh.
When Adam and I went to church last weekend in Georgetown, we visited the Exorcist Staircase. You know, the one where Father Karras from the movie falls to his death?? Creepy! There were a few people running stairs when we were there -- a great idea if you can get over the haunting thought that you might "fall" down too...
Friday, December 22, 2006
You can see Sunrise Mountain in the back. I think this temple is visible from space...
I'm off for a pedicure! Oh heavenly vacation. How I love thee...!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I ran again this morning. It was Fantastic! Really, it was. I was able to complete the four mile course and only walked up the one enormous hill. My heart rate seemed to stay down at a normal level. During a brief cardio session yesterday I had a hard time keeping it out of the high 170s! That is inappropriately high for moderately paced cardio. I was doing the same machine at the same intensity the day before surgery and I had a hard time getting my heart rate ABOVE 150!!!
I felt 80% better from when I ran on Sunday. Except for my peroneal tendon, which decided to be fussy. When I got home, I put this stuff on my ankle called GCHQ. It’s like icy hot. Adam’s dad, who is a large animal veterinarian, sent it to me when I first injured my tendon. It really seems to help, although the package says: “For high performance animals.” Like horses. Ok, or I guess that could be me!!! Haha! I think it’s safe… the only ingredients are menthol and mate, whatever that is. I can still feel the cool tingling effects!
Speaking of Adam, he did something really, shall we say Not Smart yesterday! He was making a big pot of chili and decided to see how hot he could make it before he couldn’t stand eating it. While that seems not smart, that’s actually not the Not Smart part. He chopped up a bunch of those little red chili peppers – the super caliente ones – and dumped them into the mix. Then, with chili pepper residue on his fingers -- he doesn’t remember doing it -- but he must’ve stuck his finger in his nose because it started to burn and his left nostril started to run uncontrollably! He thinks he also inadvertently scratched his, um, groin, if you will. When that started burning, he ran and jumped in the shower. Good times.
On a more serious note, Adam and I also had a “State of the Union” last night. He asked me whether I plan to break up with him once I get better. You see, we almost broke up a few days before my diagnosis. There have been some rocky points in our relationship in the past, but this time it was For Real. I was going to blog about our “almost breakup”, but obviously it was OBE (Overcome By Events) when I was diagnosed with cancer. So was the breakup. As soon as I was diagnosed, he was just there for me, like nothing had passed between us about ending our relationship. I admit I did feel guilty about it at the time because I was the one who wanted to end things, and I felt a little like I was taking advantage of his good will just because I got sick. At some point I let go and just let him love me and be there for me. And my affections for him grew.
It’s not that I didn’t adore him… there are many reasons why I thought it best to end the relationship. Not the least of which is that he is in the Navy and he’s moving in September to Hawaii for two years. And my life is here in DC right now. I have a fun, exciting job at the State Department and I’ve worked really hard to get here. I’m not saying my career is my number one priority, or that I plan to work for the government forever, but I can’t see myself leaving it so soon. At some point I want to have a family, and I wouldn’t mind taking a less interesting job then, if it would be less demanding and give me more time to care for children. But right now I’m having a ball making a difference, as they say!
I know it really upsets him that I refuse to commit to making our relationship work no matter what. I know he wants me to say that I love him so much that I am willing to make whatever sacrifices are required for us to be together. But if I’m not going to leave DC yet, that leaves us with only one option – long distance. For two years?! I don’t know, it’s a tough spot. Before, I decided that if I wasn’t going to make a full commitment, then it made sense to move on. I agonized over it a lot, and it was giving me serious heartache. Lately I have been absorbed by having cancer and I haven’t thought much about the future. I’ve just been trying to make it through each day, week. But he's been thinking about it, and it's added to his emotional drain.
One of the comments I received was to go easy on yourself and others during the early, difficult days of thyroid cancer. The part about going easy on others struck a chord with me. I’m feisty and demanding when I’m not sick, so you can just imagine me now!! Poor Adam takes the brunt of it. And he sees me at my worst and has to hold me up sometimes. He told me he is emotionally drained. He said it’s kinda scary seeing me so fragile and dependent. Normally I am strong willed and extremely introverted; I don’t need anyone to hold me up! So it seems. I’m sure it’s even harder on my dear mother. My mom and I are very close and I know she feels everything for me.
All sad stuff aside, I have been feeling very positive the last few days. I saw my endocrinologist on Monday and he wants to give me an outpatient dose of the radioactive iodine, since my tumor seemed to be pretty contained and hadn’t metastasized. That is scheduled for the 10th of January, and I will get to start my real thyroid medicine on January 14, and be feeling better by February!! Just in time to train for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler on April 1!!
I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that I don’t have to be isolated in the hospital! I will still have to be isolated at home for a couple of days, but that is way better than being in the hospital!!! Of course, all that depends on the results of my initial scan. As long as no distant metastases show up on the scan, I’ll be good to get my RAI dose and go home. If something weird shows up, I’ll have to go into the hospital. Good thoughts!!!
Wow, this is really long! Congrats to anyone who made it this far!!!
"Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men! Do no pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for power equal to your tasks." - Phillips Brooks
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Yesterday was a wash. I had kind of a rough day. I did nothing positive for myself. I didn't even get a shower until about 7 pm. I intended to run yesterday, but instead I did big fat nothing. Literally. I sat on the couch all day and surfed the 'net and read. I didn't drink all my water. I didn't have any of my magic healing tea. I didn't take my supplements - acidophilus, flax oil and astragalus. I didn't eat lots of fruits and vegetables. I didn't exercise.
Instead? I talked myself into finishing off the home made cookies and sitting on the couch ALL DAY. Why I ever let myself talk me into this is beyond my understanding. The conversation is usually the same... yesterday it went something like this:
Rational me: "I'm feeling kind of low. You know. Feeling a little sorry for myself. I just wish someone or something could make me feel better. I need comfort. I know I should go run, but that sounds hard, and I just want to be comfy right now."
Voice in head: "I know. You've been through a lot. You look tired. You have cancer for pete's sake! You should just take it easy. And you deserve a treat too. Like one of those cookies. Those look good, and it'll make you feel better to just eat a warm cookie and curl up on the couch."
Rational me: "Yeah, you're right. That's exactly what I need."
[Voice in head wins out and multiple cookies are consumed while very little movement occurs.]
All you fellow fitness freaks will know before I tell you the obvious and inevitable outcome of these events. Does this make me feel better? Yeah. For about 20 minutes before the sugar high wears off. And then? I feel worse. It never fails! Why Rational Me can't remember that a few hours after committing to the cookie/couch combo, I ALWAYS end up listless, puffy, cranky, weepy and self deprecating is a complete mystery.
By the end of the evening I was feeling really sorry for myself. Doing my best Eeyore. I had a good hard cry - the first since the day of my surgery. And while I don't think I needed to sit in a sugar stupor all day, I will say that I needed a good hard cry...
Despite my firm believe in positive thinking and the importance of attitude to health and wellness, and my deep desire to meet the challenges of this disease with grace and a smile, it is still a grieving process. Grief is a natural response to loss, and cancer is certainly a loss. It changes our very sense of self. At times, we feel empty, unmoored, fragile, like we might spin apart at any minute -- as if a part of our self has been ripped away. The process of grieving takes over our spirits, and crashes around inside us -- in our hearts, stomachs, heads. And there's nothing to do but surrender to it, and experience the depth of whatever emotion takes hold.
Fix your eyes on God and do not talk about what is invisible,
So that he may place another look in your eyes.
It is in the vision of the physical eyes
That no invisible or secret thing exists.
But when the eye is turned toward the Light of God
What thing could remain hidden under such a Light?
Although all lights emanate from the Divine Light
Don't call all these lights "the Light of God";
It is the eternal light which is the Light of God,
The ephemeral light is an attribute of the body and the flesh.
...Oh God who gives the grace of vision!
The bird of vision is flying towards You with the wings of desire..
Saturday, December 09, 2006
The automatic setting on the camera captured her in action with the most evil expression on her face!!!
We finally got her to sit still for the picture, but the look on her face is priceless. She looks totally defeated and pissed at the same time. We were laughing so hard we almost couldn't get the picture!!Normally she is terribly sweet and docile...
My plan is to try running today! I prefer to run outside, but I'm not sure about that. First, it's 21 degrees outside! And second, it seems safer to try it on the Dreadmill for the first time, just in case ... I don't want to get out there and not be able to complete the run and be stuck, sweating and cold a couple miles from home.
My recovery is going well, but I'm starting to feel the effects of not having a thyroid. My body is definitely out of whack. I think it knows that it was violated and is now lacking a CRITICAL gland. It's pissed, I think. The first few days I was taking the Cytomel, I felt fine. Great, in fact. But I think my own levels of thyroid hormone have dropped off now and I'm relying on the cytomel. It's temporary and short acting, and I can really feel it when it's time for another dose. The things that seem to make my symptoms worse are calcium supplements, too much dairy at one time (probably the calcium content), sugar, soy, and stress. I get tired, cranky, headache, can't think, focus, concentrate, and it's really hard to do tasks I've done a thousand times before. At work, I have to really think, ok, what do I need to do with this, what is this, or what is this person asking? It's scary. And depressing. I have mood swings where I just get completely overwhelmed and sad. I have to deal with this for the REST OF MY LIFE. And right now, it seems like I might never feel normal again. I am really trying to maintain a positive attitude. I believe that is so important, both in terms of health, and in life in general.
While I was recovering last week, I read Spontaneous Healing by Dr. Andrew Weil. He has some interesting ideas about how the body is able to heal itself, even from terminal illnesses in some cases. He talks about cases of spontaneous remission of all kinds of diseases and afflictions, including cancer. He also goes over different things you can do to increase your body's ability to heal itself. I already do many of the things he recommends. Although, he recommends people eat almost no protein (yeah, ahem... not this girl!) because it is harder for your body to digest and process and your goal is to free your body's systems for healing rather than filtering out all the toxins we put into ourselves. So obviously, organic foods, nothing processed or artificial, no sugars or dairy. He recommends various herbal supplements, meditation, visualization, and relaxation. And he also goes into how critical a role the mind plays in health and wellness.
Dr. Weil discusses his disillusionment with the traditional medical model and its pervasive pessimism and complete disregard for mind-body or wellness approaches. He thinks this indifference toward mind-body interactions is peculiar to American society. In many other countries, especially in the East, doctors are more inclined to view illnesses of all kinds as having a psychosomatic component. Belief in healing power can be a key to success. There is ample evidence of the placebo effect in medical research, and plenty of anecdotal evidence of belief in healing having powerful effects. I admit, that's one of the biggest reasons I chose the surgeon I did. She was the only one of the three I met who looked me in the eye and said, "We're gonna cure you." And believed it herself. Neither of the other two would even say, "You're going to be ok, we're going to take care of you and make you better."
Another correllation between mind and healing is total acceptance of self and one's illness. Dr. Weil says, "Most people do not go through life in an accepting mode. Instead they are in a state of perpetual confrontation, trying by the imposition of will to shape events and control situations... such an attitude is directly opposed to the way of life, and those who cling to it are doomed. Acceptance, submission, surrender are a mental shift that may be the master key that unlocks healing."
I've encountered the idea of the importance of the mind in shaping one's experience of life in other areas, notably in achieving goals. I started to get interested in the idea from reading fitness authors like Tom Venuto, and motivational writers like Tony Robbins and Steven Covey.
"The ancestor of every action is a thought." Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Man is what he believes." Anton Chekhov
"They can because they think they can." Virgil
In the world of fitness, the mind is recognized as a critical element in achieving goals - visualization, will, and belief are all necessary to running farther or faster, lifting more, losing fat, etc. I think the same is true of health, wellness and healing. Not that I'm saying you can just think yourself well, but as Tom Venuto says:
"If you are getting more of the same negative results in your life - such as the same health problems, or the same body fat continues to return even after you lose it, then you have probably been un-consciously running old negative programs and re-inforcing them with negative thought patterns.
Guess what? You're already using this force every day because you cannot turn it off. Whatever you are thinking and picturing in your mind repeatedly on a daily basis is already on it's way to you, so it's simply a matter of HOW you are using it, not IF you are using it.
What do you say to yourself every day? Do you say, "I am becoming leaner, healthier and more muscular every day?"... or do you say "I am a fat person - Ive tried everything, nothing ever works?"
The fact is - you can think yourself thin and healthy or you can think yourself obese and ill. Maybe not in the literal sense...but most certainly as the critical part in the chain of causation..."
Maintaining a positive attitude when dealing with something like cancer is a real challenge. I still haven't forgiven my cancer yet. It is still a thief. I am working on the acceptance thing, and taking each day as it comes - trying not to get overwhelmed. I think once I get past the radioactive iodine treatment and I get on my regular thyroid medication, it will get easier.
"In order to discover new lands, one must be willing to lose sight of the shore for a very long time."
Sunday, December 03, 2006
When I first started this blog, I didn't intend for it to be a blog about thyroid cancer. I wanted to blog about fitness and health and life in general because I love reading other fitness related blogs (some of which are linked on the left) and I found the idea inspiring. Since my diagnosis, I've blogged about my cancer experience, and I plan to write more about it in the future... as well as more about health and fitness! (It's NOT all about the cancer!!) I hope that someone out there going through thyroid cancer will find their way here and that my experience and the links I put up for thyroid resources will help. If you don't know anything about thyroid cancer, you can go here to satisfy an initial curiosity. You can also go here and get a badge for your website to show your support for cancer research.
For me, talking with other survivors helps immensely in dealing with all of the emotions and questions. I found a couple of women who blog about health, fitness and thyroid cancer, (if there are any others out there, please email me and I'll add your link!!) and I even got to speak with one of them before my surgery. Danniela Nichols - IronSunshine - is an amazing Ironman triathlete and thyroid cancer survivor. You can read about her competing in IM Wisconsin last year here, and watch a video interview here. I emailed her and she called me and spoke with me about her experience. It really helps to talk to someone who knows what you're going through, especially if they have the same lifestyle you do. The fact that she is an athlete dealing with thyroid cancer is an inspiration to me, as anyone who's been reading here knows I've been terrified about what having cancer and no thyroid means for my fitness lifestyle.
Danniela told me that I would probably need to start monitoring my heart rate because the thyroid replacement hormone can make your heart rate speed up really fast when you're exercising. I'm not sure if I'm still in the throes of recovery, or if that effect is already taking place for me, but when I was on the step machine at the gym yesterday, my heart rate skyrocketed! I was feeling pretty good, going at a moderate intensity. Not quite what I would have done before, but not real easy either. So I started jacking up the intensity a bit, and my heart rate went up pretty high for me, and stayed up! I had to get off the machine to get it to come back down to a comfortable level. Soooo... I guess a heart rate monitor will be on my Christmas list for those HIIT sessions!
The cardio was good though. I'm still pretty sore in my neck, and I can't quite move my head around freely yet, but I'm going back for some more today! The only problem is that my energy did NOT last the day yesterday. I was done at about 4. So I need to keep the intensity really low this week if I'm going to make it through my work days! I usually work pretty long hours because of the nature of my job, but I'm going to have some projects that are not time-sensitive so I will be able to leave when I want to this week. But I'm hoping to make it to 5 at least!!! And I've got to walk a mile or two (depending) during the day in my commute and at work. I didn't try the weight circuit yesterday, but I'm going to give it a shot today, plus 30 mins of cardio again (no heart rate pegging!).
"Whether you think you can or you think you can't, it's true."
Saturday, December 02, 2006
As for the pathology, she said there was no evidence the cancer had spread outside my thyroid. They took some enlarged lymph nodes while they were in there, and they came back negative for cancer. YAY! I was really worried because I knew about this nodule for over two years before I did anything about it earlier this year. *Cringe* I know. But truly, when I first found it, no one seemed worried about it at all, and I never noticed it changing dramatically, and it didn't seem to be causing me any problems. And seriously, I totally didn't think it could possibly be cancer. Me? Cancer? No way!
Sometimes you hear about people with lumps the doctors tell them are nothing and they persist because of a gut feeling that something is wrong and it turns out to be cancer. For me, it was the other way around. When I finally saw an endocrinologist this summer, he insisted on a second biopsy just a few weeks after the first inconclusive one because he felt like something was not right. And I resisted because I really thought it was nothing. Normally when the first biopsy comes back inconclusive, they wait 6 months to do another, and that's what I wanted to do. The endocrinologist basically bullied me into going back for an ultrasound guided biopsy by calling me repeatedly! He told me that new research shows the characteristics of my nodule are indicative of cancer in 1 out of 3 cases, not 5 out of 100 like he'd originally told me. That really scared me into going back. Thank God I did.
I still have to have the radioactive iodine treatment because of the size of my tumor, so that messiness is still up the road. But I hope they will give me a lower dose of the stuff since there was no spread. I'm a big believer in the power of prayer, coming from a good Irish Catholic family :), and I have to say I've really been walking in God's graces through this whole ordeal. The outcome so far is absolutely the best we could have hoped for.
The doctor also started me on Cytomel, which is a temporary thyroid hormone replacement until I have the radioactive iodine and go on the permanent stuff. I'm feeling pretty good. Definitely not 100% yet, but really well.
Yesterday I woke up and everything felt DIRTY in my apartment!! I started cleaning the kitchen like a madwoman... I was down on my hands and knees cleaning the kitchen floor, and it occurred to me... I really need to go to work and get out of this place! So I showered and packed my food and got on the metro armed with fresh baked cookies. Everyone was shocked to see me, of course, since I just showed up without calling. It was good to see everyone. No actual work was done on my part, but I sorted through all the emails in the inbox and got some taskings for Monday and went through all the hello's and how've you been's.
I had to admit to myself the other day that I really needed a break. Not that this has been like a vacation or anything, but the last few days that I've been feeling pretty good, I've been thinking, this is nice! I needed to disconnect, take time off of work, get away from the international news, and yes, even *gasp* NOT exercise for a spell. But today? Today I am going to the GYM! For cardio! Scared and excited, people! I may even try a light weights circuit to see how it feels. Sooo excited! It's the small joys in life!
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I'm not in much pain any more, really... discomfort. The stiffness and soreness in my neck and shoulders has been worse than the incision. And swallowing. Everyone said swallowing would be difficult and painful because of the breathing tube. That probably had something to do with it, but I think it's mostly because of the surgery itself. My swallower still doeesn't quite work properly. It took a few days before I could eat solid foods, and I'm still eating mostly squishy stuff!! I'm just taking Tylenol for the pain during the day though. I couldn't stand taking the percocet... it is too narcotic, it just makes me so out of it. And queasy and woozy. I just take it at night. Hopefully I won't even want that anymore soon. Like maybe tonight.
I told my mom I wanted to go to the gym yesterday and pedal on the recumbant bike! :-) She vetoed that idea. Sunday I was super tired by about 4, but I felt pretty good all day yesterday, considering. The other thing is my voice gets really tired easily and I can't talk for very long or loudly. Darn!
Wednesday was ... unspeakably difficult. But everyone going in to the OR was SO nice and good to me. Thursday was not such a hot time either. It is really scary being so fragile and helpless. I couldn't even sit up on my own. And there's all the things about surgery no one tells you that you start to discover once you come out of the stupor a bit... like I had puncture wounds on my chin and jaw and the back of my head and across my chest from where they STAPLED the sterile dressing on me during the surgery. You can see some of the punctures in this picture. The incision looks pretty good - clean, no bruising. That yellow gunk is betadyne. I have no idea why they didn't clean it off before I came out of surgery. I have been scrubbing on it with alcohol and it still doesn't want to come off. And glue too - all around my hair line and chest and chin. And bits of tape and bandaids all over my arms from having blood drawn and the IV and the monitors. !!
Anyway, I could go on, now that I'm starting to write about it, I could probably write a book. I'm sure I will have more to say about it later. I go back to the surgeon on Thursday and she said if the bandages haven't fallen off by then, she will take them off, and I will also find out the results of my pathology report. The surgeon said she didn't see any obvious evidence the cancer had spread beyond the thyroid - they took a couple of lymph nodes that looked swollen to test. They could just be swollen for some reason other than the cancer. We will see on Thursday!
This is me in the hospital, taken with a cell phone so it's pretty blurry... my mom is on the left.
All the emails and phone calls and cards and flowers from friends and family have been a real source of strength and positive energy for me. I'm learning how important it is to keep up a positive attitude - it's so easy to get overwhelmed! Mom and Dad and Adam have been especially amazing through this and I can't imagine what I would do without them. They have been spoiling me endlessly. If it wasn't for the icky-ness and soreness and that whole cancer business, I'd be doing pretty well right now...! Back rubs, ice cream in the middle of the night, and someone to cook for me! :-) This is me with Adam. He has been unbelievably sweet to me through this whole week!
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
But I'm also hopeful and I'm already anxious to get back to my "normal" routine, and to feel like myself again. I know I will never feel like the person I was two months ago, but I trust that this difficult time is a bridge to something else, even something better.
I have been praying most of all for the grace and peace to endure this calmly, and with strength and trust in Light and Goodness. I also pray that after the surgery, the worst will be behind me. It is possible that the cancer has not spread beyond the tumor -- or not much anyway -- and I will have one radiation treatment and be done with the mess. Please hold this thought in your hearts on Wednesday, that it may be so.
Everyone's emails and phone calls have meant so much to me, and I hope you can understand if I have not responded. On the good days I have not wanted to talk about it, as if that might make it less true. On the bad days, it has sometimes been a struggle to remember to breathe, much less speak, even to friends and family. I have felt everyone's prayers and love, truly, and I appreciate everything.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Anyway, as for the surgery, it is next Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. I found a surgeon I really like and I feel really comfortable with her. However, I am filled with anxiety about the surgery and beginning this process of getting rid of the cancer. I've never had surgery before, so going under freaks me the hell out. And then I will wake up without a thyroid, which also freaks me the hell out because there are horrifying symptoms I read about with hypothyroidism. I am trying to just trust and be calm and not worry about things that have not happened yet and might not ever happen. I'm totally planning on being in the gym pedalling on the recumbant bike a week post-op, so hopefully I won't lose too much fitness or strength, although I am expecting a pretty significant set-back. In a way, it will be exciting to get to work my way up again. There will be new muscle to build, new miles to run... new goals to achieve.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Sometimes I am ok. I am able to focus and work and dream and laugh as if the world is mine and I have a limitless future. Just as a young 26 year old woman should feel. Most of my life is ahead of me and I have many things to do and see, and time enough to accomplish it all. As if nothing can hold me back.
Other times, the thought of cancer growing in my body washes over me, the same way that a wave of nausea rolls through you. I am thrown back into a narrow focus, an obsession with the immediacy of the disease and the treatment. I feel enormous fear - to the point of panic even. I feel my own mortality.
I feel mortality all around me, in others; I see through different eyes. I know it is extremely unlikely this will actually kill me if treated properly, but it has the power to do so. It is an uncomfotable closeness to death. In reality, we are all as close at every minute to death - as close as we are to life.
Luckily, I have already had life experiences that led me to question "why me?" Why me, Lord? I have been angry at God and questioned Him. If there is a benevolent God, why does he allow people to suffer? What have I done to deserve suffering? Why do bad things happen to good people?
I have come through that darkness to realize that suffering is what makes us human, and makes the human experience worthwhile. Suffering has an ironic power to bring out our strengths and our better selves. It is the contrast that allows us to feel the sweetness of "not suffering". I do not have to fight that spiritual internal battle again. I have already forgiven God.
But I have not yet forgiven cancer. My anger is directed toward my cancer. I really like my life and cancer is going to change it. At least temporarily, and intermittently for the rest of my life, cancer is going to take away from me the things that I love. It is going to make me weak and unable to exercise, to run, to lift weights. It is going to make me tired and unable to work. The radiation may make me ill, and it will make me unable to taste food for weeks. Being severly hypothyroid might make me gain weight, lose my hair, change my appearance - I might be puffy with flaky, yellow skin - thyroid eye disease, lifelong calcium deficiency, unable to speak... There is a host of other possible complications that may or may not happen to me. I just have to wait to find out. The anger and fear are paralyzing, but the worst part is not knowing what the challenges of this disease will be for me.
Somewhere in my mind is the knowledge that no matter what, I will go on and live a full and happy life - things will be better in the future than they are now. But I can't deal or integrate my new challenges until I begin the journey of becoming cancer free. I can only wonder - what does this mean? What will it be like? Will it happen to me and how will I live my life if it does? How will I function, how will I go on? Will I be able to do all the things I want to do in the future?
The idea of a temporary inability to live how I want to each day while I recover makes me sad and angry. The idea of all the possible inabilities or losses in the future is paralyzing. It is too overwhelming, too much. I try to keep reminding myself it may not even come to pass.
Yesterday I read a book by M. Sara Rosenthal- The Thyroid Cancer Book . She talks about "the passion of cancer" and how feeling our mortality is the most powerful way to feel our lives. The one thing none of us have enough of is time. If we were immortal, life would be meaningless. Feeling our mortality and feeling our lives are two sides of the same coin. It is more than just living well or living content... it is living with passion, with urgency, with the fullness and wonder of grasping at what is barely ours to know.
Meantime I am trying to retain a sense of normalcy while I can. I pray for peace in my spirit and heart, and for acceptance. And when I am not paralyzed by fear - when I am running, for example, and I am centered in my body which works miraculously to propel me over the trails by breath and blood and skin and bone - I am thankful.
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday,this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
For real! Not least because that dang little pleather container and the metal vial conduct heat AWAY from the hand! But what is the point of carrying it if you don't have it ready to use if some predator jumps out of the bushes?! The plight of a runner...
I have not felt like exercising the last 3 days. I am feeling a little run down or emotionally strung out or something. Now that I know the cancer is there, it's like I can FEEL it in my neck, like I'm constantly reaching to see if it's growing into some huge protrusion. I cannot be skipping workouts, they are what keeps me sane. It's the glue that holds my life together, the time when I am most in control, most centered, most focused.
So, Wednesday I went and lifted chest and tris, yesterday I put in 7 miles, and this morning 8. Yesterday's run was great - I wanted to go longer but I had to get to work early. Today, I felt like running ZERO miles! It took me a long time to get warmed up, I felt like I was running through molasses. And I was going to stop at 5, but I started feeling better after the first few miles, so I rode it out. I'm glad I did. No matter how shitty I feel or how badly I want to skip a workout, I unfailingly feel better afterwards.
My digestion has not felt normal since I got back from the wedding... what the heck is up?? I quit the protein powder, and that helped matters, but it's still off. Am I developing food allergies? I eat the same foods all the time, so I guess it's a possibility... I just wish it would stop already!!
Well, I wanted to post a picture of my sister, my mom and I at the wedding, but Blogger is being evil, so I guess it will have to wait!
Finally, going through all this has made me more aware of other people, and just the humanity of it all. So I leave you with this:
"Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."
Monday, October 23, 2006
So I will have surgery to remove the tumor, my thyroid, and lymph nodes in my neck. Then I'll undergo radiation (during which I'll have to be isolated in the hospital, since I'll be radioactive! :( ok, that really freaks me out...). I'll have to take thyroid medication for the rest of my life and have yearly scans to watch for recurrence. So this will be a lifelong nuisance, but it most likely won't kill me. After I make it through the next few months, I should be able to live a relatively "normal" life.
I'm still in shock, but I'm feeling ok about it most of the time. I've accepted it, I guess. I mean, I'm terrified, and it's always on my mind, and sometimes I feel like I want to flip out again, or throw up, but .... my prognosis is very good.
I'm really worried about how it's going to affect my lifestyle. How long will I be unable to lift weights, or run? What will it be like being hypothyroid after the surgery? Will I gain 50 lbs? Will I lose my hair? There's no telling until I start the recovery process.
Right now I am trying to find a surgeon. I've been recommended a very good one, but my insurance HMO doesn't cover anyone outside the network. It's open season right now, so I am going to switch to Blue Cross Blue Shield, (I was going to switch anyway, before I was diagnosed) but the change won't take effect until January 1. I'm going to get an appointment with this surgeon and find out if I can delay the surgery until then. It's going to be at least 6 weeks before she can get me in anyways, so it's only a few more weeks. This is evidently a very slow growing carcinoma and I've read that people can wait on surgery in most cases. Of course, waiting till after the holidays, my sanity will certainly be in question!
My friends and family have been a real source of strength for me in this. I'm lucky, and so thankful for that. I don't feel hopeless. Just scared, and shocked. This is one of those things that's like, it'll never happen to me.
Meantime, I'm trying to go about my business. Adam and I went with some friends of ours, a couple who lives in our apt. building, to go hike Sugarloaf Mountain up in Maryland yesterday, and I lifted legs this morning. :) Life goes on, I suppose, even with cancer.
As for Adam...... that's a post for another time.... !!
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Saturday, October 14, 2006
No exercise happened yesterday. I think my body needed a break, but not exercising seems to make me feel not good. I actually notice my appetite is greater when I don't exercise, and then the next day (like today) I kinda feel like, eh, maybe I won't exercise today either. I think I want to run today. I may do a long run - 10 miles. Just work out all the toxins. But the weather has turned cold now! It's 35 outside, but the sun is shining. I haven't run in the cold yet this year, so it will be interesting to see how I feel. I will need to gauge how much clothing I will have to wear, considering it will be much colder in the morning before sunrise. I need to get some reflective gear, at a minimum. My co-worker says he is going to give me a small knife to carry. I still can't see carrying a knife on my runs!! It seems crazy, and I can't imagine actually using it. Does anyone else do this?
As for losing the last 3-5 lbs (it keeps fluctuating), aaak. I have been struggling to get these last few lbs off ALL YEAR. What is frustrating is that it doesn't seem like my calorie defecit = weight lost. What is up with that? My biggest issue is snacking after dinner, which I think I do because I work out in the a.m. and my mind subconsciously thinks it needs more calories pre-work out. But most of the time, even when I do eat before bed, I still stay under the calories I burn during the day. I guess it could be the thing that is preventing fat loss.
It's like my body just really wants to keep this amount of bodyfat. Because when I regularly eat more, like closer to what I burn daily, I don't gain, I stay the same. But when I eat less, I stay the same too! My goal is to be between 125-130, where I was before I moved up here, and where I felt more comfortable in my skin. Grr. I WILL get there before the holidays.
Now off to enjoy that sunny, brisk morning!
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
As for training, I can't believe how great running is going. Although I am somewhat dreading the cold weather coming. I'm really enjoying running outside. Except for the part about being freaked out that I'm going to get assaulted or abducted. I run in the dark in the very early morning when there are few people on the trails, and my co-worker (whose brother is a cop) tells me I'm insane. He says I should carry a knife and mace and a whistle. About a week ago, I was thinking about it as I ran farther from my apartment and got so freaked out I had to turn around early. I've heard of girls getting abducted in Rock Creek Park, but not on the trail where I run. Eek.
Oh, and I finally reached my goal of 50 full push-ups in a row on Sunday!! Now what???!
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Yesterday was an 8 mile run. I felt pretty good despite having run 7 miles on Friday. This week I will be scheduling my workouts AROUND my long run instead of cramming them in where they seem to fit. I am stubborn and refuse not to train legs in the gym and therefore I must suffer the verge of overtraining. Race is in 3 weeks. I know I am ready to run it now, but I want to feel good on race day and have fun and not worry I will be struggling to finish it. I haven't figured out yet how to post video on the blog here, but check out Julie Moss Competing in the 1982 Hawaii Ironman Triathlon - sheesh. Anyway, today will be a rest day, but I think I will go in to the gym and do some ab work just to get the blood flowing.
Adam and I watched his brother play in K-State football yesterday afternoon... well, I napped on the couch and read Shape magazine (which annoys me to no end because of its fluffy training tips for women). Then we went to see Little Miss Sunshine. It was cute and funny but I can't say fantastic. He is sad. What do I do?
right now I'm trying to focus on being the best, most interesting person I can be and living a full life right now. I can't change the past and I can't affect others' behavior. I can only do ill or well for myself. I am trying for well.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
I am having a really blah day today. I am filled with a bitter, angry poison. It's like a vise around my heart and a white hot pit in the back of my throat.
Mostly I am angry with myself. Angry with myself for not living the life I want to be living and not knowing really how to change that.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Monday, September 11, 2006
Adam is trying to call me right now. What am I going to do about him........