Thursday, February 28, 2008

Adam & Michelle

Awww..... look at us! Just babies!! This is before we started dating, back in 2003!! We were looking at this pic in Hawaii, and Adam said, "You wanted me." HA! He wanted ME~!!! :P More pics here from the early years.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

HA!! Too funny!

Admittedly I don't have enough to do at work today. Make your own here.

Pillars of the Earth Review

Man, I'm exhausted today. Don't know what it is. I slept like 10 hours last night, blew off the gym this morning. Somewhere between a bit headachey and I need a naaaap. But not sick-like, just bone tired. Just... yawn.

So, I'm reading Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Technically it's premature to write a review since I'm only about 1/3 of the way through it, but it is SO GOOD. People, if you have not yet bought this book I implore you to make haste to your nearest Barnes & Noble and get a copy now!! I've been totally absorbed in it ever since I picked it up. It's epic. I love novels about medieval times - even though the richest people back then lived short, brutish existences, I still romanticize castles and knights and princesses and love a good yarn about them. This one is set in the 12th century and follows a master builder on his quest to build a glorious cathedral. Murder, intrigue, romance, mystery, politics - this book has it all!
Of course, I already mentioned how much I love Oprah, and how I read and do everything she tells me to, and I heard about this book on her show. At first I though, Adam would really like this book, so I told my mom to get it for him for Christmas. I swiped his copy when I left Hawaii!
Alchemy highly recommends this one!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Low Iodine Diet

Well, I start the low iodine diet tomorrow. It's not so much of an inconvenience for me, although some people on my Yahoo Thyca group go into fits about not being able to eat bread products and dairy (milk in cereal and coffee) or cheese/pizza. The LID is pretty much like my normal diet anyway, except that I can't eat egg yolks, whey protein (sob!) or any seafood (sob again!). Since whey and seafood are two of my primary sources of protein, even above chicken, it's kind of a pain. I can still have egg whites and fresh meats - I have chicken on hand and plenty of eggs. It's only two weeks. Last time I had to do this I was totally hypo and didn't feel like eating much anyway, plus the constipation - ugh. This time it will be a breeze. I just need to put away my sea salt, my vitamins and my fish oil.

Here's a list of what I can't eat:

1. Iodized salt, sea salt (Non-iodized salt may be used).
2. Dairy products (milk, cheese, cream, yogurt, ice cream, butter)
3. Eggs (most of the iodine is in the yolk)
4. Seafood (fish, shellfish, seaweed, kelp)
5. Foods that contain the additives: carragen, agar-agar, algin, alginates
6. Cured and corned foods (ham, corned beef, sauerkraut)
7. Bread products that contain iodate dough conditioners (sometimes, small bakery breads are safe)
8. Foods and medications that contain red food dyes (specifically, Red Dye # 3 (erythrosine); consult your doctor before discontinuing any red-colored medicines)
9. Chocolate (for its milk content)
10. Molasses
11. Soy products (soy sauce, soy milk)

Additional Guidelines
1. Avoid restaurant foods since there is no reasonable way to determine which restaurants use iodized salt.
2. Plain Matzos can be used instead of bread.
3. Non-iodized salt may be used as desired.
4. Read ingredients lists of prepared or packaged foods carefully.
5. Avoid taking multivitamins, since most contain iodine.
6. Olive oil may be used as a condiment or in cooking, in place of butter.
7. It is helpful to prepare low-iodine meals in advance and freeze them for easy use when on the diet.

Important Note: Food prepared from any fresh or frozen meats, fresh or frozen poultry (avoid broth-injected poultry) , fresh or frozen vegetables, and fresh fruits should be fine for this diet, provided that you do not add any of the ingredients listed above to avoid. The diet is easiest when food is prepared from basic ingredients. Strict adherence to this diet will significantly enhance the sensitivity of the radioiodine scans and the effectiveness of any radioiodine treatments.

Here we go!

Oh, and it looks like Adam is going to be coming just a few days after I finish up my scan and staying through the last week in March. !!!!! March is a big month for me, can't wait to get it going!!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Change

"Most of us do not accept, or even believe in, the continual flow of life. However strange this may seem, once we truly accept this at a physical level, we will not need to search for certainty... As you tackle the tribulations of life, this insight helps you refrain from taking yourself, your challenges, and life itself too seriously, because you will know that no matter what situation you are in, good or bad, it will change. This insight into the changing nature of the world will give you equanimity and joy."

-Kamal Sarma in Mental Resilience: The Power of Clarity

Thyrogen Scan

I ended up having a busy week at work, which cuts into my lunchtime and breaktime and therefore blogging time... say it ain't so!

But I did schedule my THYROGEN SCAN!!!

Yep, that's right people, the good doctor is going to let me get thyrogen injections to raise my TSH instead of withdrawing from my thyroid hormone. PRAISE JESUS, MARY AND JOSEPH AND ALL THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN. I've never been so happy in my life to get a shot.

See, with thyroid cancer, they remove the thyroid and the offending tumor. Your levels of thyroid hormone begin to fall, which slows your metabolism and pretty much everything else in your body down. Since your body can't live without thyroid hormone, all systems are on minimum function, RED ALERT!!! Your pituitary gland starts pumping out thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) like crazy trying in vain to stimulate your missing thyroid to do it's job... but since there is no thyroid, the TSH just keeps rising and conditions in your body keep getting worse. That's prime time to do a radioiodine scan of your body to see where any remaining cancer cells might be (like in the lymph nodes, lungs or bone) because any remaining thyroid cells are trying frantically to make thyroid hormone. When your TSH is high, any remaining thyroid cells are getting tons of stimulation and are hungry for iodine to start do their job. The thyroid is the main storehouse of iodine in the body; it uses iodine to carry out its functions. You follow a low-iodine diet and then ingest radioactive iodine, or RAI, and all those thyroid cells - cancerous or otherwise - soak up that poison like a thirsty camel in the desert. And, of course, they die!

And that, boys and girls, is how we cure cancer.

It takes about a year for the cells to all die and get mopped up by your immune system. It's been a year for me now, so it's time for my follow up scan, where I will allow my TSH to rise, follow a low-iodine diet and then take a very small dose (a tracer dose) of RAI. Then I'll get a scan to see if there are any metastases or leftover bits that didn't get nuked the first time around.

If it's clean, I go to "monitoring" status - official remission - for the rest of my life. If there are mets, I get another whopping dose of RAI.

Now, for cases like mine (caught early, no detectable mets at treatment), some endocrinologists let patients take injections of this drug called thyrogen, which, by some magical properties having to do with bovine TSH or something equally dreadful sounding, raises my TSH temporarily without me having to withdraw from my hormones in a horrible process that takes six weeks to complete and equally as long to recover from. It's not 100% sure to allow stimulation of all offending cells. Withdrawal is more certain. But my endo decided my case is unthreatening enough to warrant the thyrogen.

So that will be on the 14th of March, a Friday. I get a shot on Monday, another on Tuesday and take the RAI dose on Wednesday. Then I'm radioactive and have to follow the safety procedures until after my scan on Friday.

I can't wait to get the good news!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Greeeat....

Winter storm warning in effect from 10 pm this evening to 10 pm EST Friday, The National Weather Service in Sterling Virginia has issued a winter storm warning, which is in effect from 10 pm this evening to 10 pm EST Friday. The winter storm watch is no longer in effect.
A storm moving in from the southwest will bring precipitation into the cold air already in place over the region. The result will be light snow overnight, followed by freezing rain Friday into Friday night.

Light snow will begin during the late evening hours tonight, likely close to 10 pm. One to two inches of snow is expected overnight. The snow will change to freezing rain early Friday morning.
The freezing rain will be on and off during the day on Friday and into Friday night. Significant icing, around a quarter of an inch, is expected. This will likely cause substantial travel problems and power outages. Stay tuned to the latest forecasts through this event.

A winter storm warning means significant amounts of snow, sleet, and ice are expected or occurring. This will make travel very hazardous or impossible.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Farty McStench

Oh. My. GAWD. I have to figure that Gold's Gym in Ballston actually pumps farts through the air conditioning because that is the stinkiest fucking gym I have ever been to in my LIFE. Christ. I think my eyelashes got singed this morning. Unbelievable.

Except... you know what just occurred to me? Just now as I was typing this?? See, I've been working out there for three years now, and I see the same faces every morning. The same buggers trolling away on the recumbant bike or shuffling along on the treadmill, never really getting anywhere but bored.... and I feel like I smell farts every fucking time I'm in there, usually when I'm in the middle of a sprint, gasping for air as it is. So unless Gold's really is a fart-mine, one of those louts is responsible! IT'S PROBABLY THE SAME PERSON. If you feel entitled to fart in the cardio room, you probably do it on a regular basis...

Fucking hell. I could probably narrow it down to 6 or 7 people over in the bike area. If I ever figure out who it is, I'm gonna... I'm gonna run over and stand next to him (oh, it HAS to be a dude) and jump up and down flailing my arms and pointing and yelling out, "It's this guy, he KEEPS FARTING!!!!!"

Gag me.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Two websites to pay attention to

I love Oprah. I read O Magazine every month and am consistently impressed by the content. Everything from the inspiring to the uber-geeky. For example, in this month's issue, two websites to pay attention to...

Project Gutenberg
is an online database where you can download thousands of books to read on your computer. Some are even available in mp3 audio files. These are mostly the classics, but you can find titles like The Art of War, Emma, and On the Origin of the Species.

TED is a gem. If you're like me and miss attending classes in college where you learn random interesting tidbits, you'll love this website. TED is an annual conference bringing together the world's most exciting movers and shakers to give "the talk of their lives" in 18 minutes. The best of these are posted on the website where you can watch for free fascinating segments on architecture, music, dance, global issues and more. I just watched Arthur Benjamin doing Mathemagic, where he squares a 5 digit number in his head! I could get sucked into this site for hours....

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Continuing on with the body acceptance theme....

I'm having a hugely lazy weekend. Sure, I've been (somewhat) productive, but mostly I'm working on wearing the butt-impression into my couch. It's 1:30 here on the East coast and I'm still in my pj's... still in the same spot on the couch as I was at 8:30 this morning. After so many fascinating adventures in Hawaii and such wonderful companionship, these last two lazy weekends have been, well, depressing.

I've been consoling myself by reading every blog I can find that captures my interest. I just spent almost an hour scrolling through pictures on this site where real women post pictures of their bodies after giving birth. I'm both terrified and amazed. What is my body going to look like after having kids?? Tons of stretch marks and stretched out skin?? For some reason I have always thought my body would pretty much bounce back to somewhat normal after giving birth. My mom doesn't look like that. She looks like a 25 year old (not even kidding) - have I gotten an unrealistic expectation from her?! I have stretch marks on my boobs and hips already... does that mean my belly is going to be covered with stretch marks too? Why am I even thinking about this aAAHHHHRHHHHHHHHH! WTF, losing my mind!!!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What's News?

I got a great compliment this morning! I was in the squat rack, finishing up a set with 140#, and the trainer working his client in the rack next to me said, "That is some GOOD squatting! You squat better than 90% of the guys in here!" I was pretty flattered.

+++++++++

I skipped my planned cardio yesterday, mainly because my bed just felt so good and warm and it was freezing rain outside. I also skipped my HIIT this morning because I ran out of time. When my alarm went off at 5 I realized I did not wake up in the night to pee and so had not taken my thyroid pill. I count on waking up (naturally) during the night to go to the bathroom so I can take my thyroid pill, which has to be on an empty stomach at least an hour before eating. So far, this has happened three times now since I've been back in DC - where I've slept soundly through the entire night and not taken my pill. It didn't happen once the whole time I was in Hawaii.

When it happens, I have to take it in the morning and delay the gym, since I don't work out on an empty stomach. I guess I could have gotten up anyway and gotten other things ready while I was waiting on the hour to pass, but it's much easier to reset the alarm for 6 and snooze a bit longer. I'll make up the HIIT on my next leg day, and yesterday's cardio on Friday. No biggie.

+++++++++++

The dentist was fine yesterday, except... how do I always manage to forget about how insanely AWFUL that water-pick thingie is???? It's AWFUL!! I was getting water sprayed all. over. my. face. Seriously I had water running down the side of my neck?! WTF is that??

He referred me to an oral surgeon to have one of my wisdom teeth pulled that is growing in a little bit on the top. Ugh. Do I really have to do this? Sometimes I think they are just scamming us all on the wisdom tooth thing to drum up more business! The thing is not causing any problems, but he says it probably will eventually and it will be harder to take care of as I get older.

He also suggested I talk to the oral surgeon about my salivary gland problem. He had the gaul to suggest that the pain was caused by me grinding my teeth at night and making the muscles in my jaw sore. This was after I had described how the parotid glands swell up like ping pong balls under my ears whenever I eat.

I didn't punch him in the face.

I calmly told him, no, I don't think that's the problem.

The hygenist told me sometimes people can get stones in blocked salivary glands and the surgeon would have more experience with it than they. She placated me with a goody-bag full of Biotene products and a prescription for at-home fluoride treatments.

+++++++++++++

Today I am going to the optometrist. Tomorrow I have to have blood drawn for my usual thyroid testing and next Tuesday I go back to the cancer doctor to find out what manner of torture I will have to endure for my follow up scans. If I get a clean scan I will officially be in remission!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Post RAI Salivary Gland Pain

I have a dentist appointment this afternoon and I’m actually looking forward to it. I’m going to ask about my salivary gland pain, which I started having suddenly right around the time I got to Hawaii. This is a somewhat common problem in people who have been treated with radioactive iodine (RAI) because the RAI concentrates in the thyroid tissue and in the salivary glands. I have scarring in my salivary glands and my tear ducts, both of which were basically fried by radioactive saliva/tears during my treatment. Now whenever I eat or salivate, the saliva can’t get out of my glands and they get really swollen and painful. It’s mostly in the parotid glands, which are right under the ear on the sides of the jaw.
I never even knew we had salivary glands there until my RAI. They tell you to suck on sour candy while in treatment, so that radioactive saliva doesn’t just sit there festering in your glands, it moves and filters (that’s the idea anyway). Eating sour candy at 12, 2 and 4 in the morning was a bitch let me tell you.

I didn’t have pain while I was in the hospital, but shortly after getting home for my isolation, I lost my sense of taste and developed a very dry mouth and a little soreness. That went on for about 3 weeks, I guess and then cleared up. Almost a whole year went by without incident – my mouth was a little drier than before, but no pain or anything. Then I took a decongestant one day when I was having really bad allergies. Decongestants dry up all the fluids in your head, including in your salivary glands. Well, that triggered something because they started bothering me for about a week after that.

It cleared up and then a few weeks later, bam! All of a sudden my salivary glands started getting really swollen and painful every time I eat. It’s not as bad now as it was at first, but it’s STILL going on now about 10 weeks later. When I eat, they swell up like I have the mumps – like hard ping pong balls on either side of my face by my ears. The only thing you can do is just massage them and eventually they go down. It’s kinda gross because sometimes I get a squirt of the nasty backed up saliva, which tastes really salty/sour. Anyway, I’m going to ask the dentist about it and if there is anything I can do besides using my dry mouth stuff (Biotene) and massage. I know from my yahoo thyroid cancer group that some people do a course of steroids or get surgery to reopen the ducts… not sounding like fun. I just hope this is not something I have to live with forever, constantly! Dear lord, I hope I don't have to be retreated.....

Update: As of December 2011, I am officially cancer free!  And my parotid glands no longer bother me at all.  My friend who had thyca after me did NOT suck sour candies during her RAI and she did NOT have any issues with her salivary glands.  If I had to do it over, I would do the same.  But if you're reading this because your salivary glands are bothering you post RAI, take heart.  The problem is temporary and will eventually go away.  The things that helped me the most were Mucinex (not the one with sudafed in it) and massaging the glands when they bothered me.  And the dentists have no clue about this problem!  I've seen several and they all gave me blank stares when I asked about it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bitterly cold.

Coldest day of the winter. It's 17 degrees. 6 degrees if you factor in the windchill. Winds gusting at 20 mph. High today is 30. Just thought I'd let y'all know.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

On the Exploding Oven and other randomness...

Did I ever tell you guys about the day my oven exploded? Yeah. I shit you not. I wasn't there when it happened, thank god because I guess I could have gotten hurt? Although the glass was shatterproof and exploded into about a thousand little chunks instead of sharp shards. I came home from being out of town for a few days and discovered it. Behold:



I still don't really know what caused the explosion. I went online and found many stories of this happening to other people. A lot seemed to be GE appliances (which mine is), but there were other brands too. Apparently because the glass is tempered, any slight imperfection will eventually cause the glass to shatter. This happens to microwaves too, which you can imagine is far more dangerous than the oven because many people have their microwaves above their ovens at head level. There was a woman a few years ago who was injured when a microwave door exploded in her face while she was shopping in Sears. This could happen to you! Craziness.

+++++++++++++++++++

Adam and I hung out together on the webcam for about 2 hours yesterday. It was so good to see his face, I almost burst into tears. I miss him so much and the prospect of being separated for the next two years while he is stationed in Hawaii just seems so daunting and overwhelming. Sometimes I really want to just throw in the towel, quit my job and move out there. But I know I would regret that in the long run. And I would be really sad when he goes back to Durka-durka-stan again and I'm stuck at home alone all day with nothing to do except lay on the beach (hmmmm.... considering....) -- NO, it would get sad and lonely after only a few days of that. I need a job there or I can't go!

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I had a pretty good workout yesterday. I'm waiting on my New Rules of Lifting book to arrive in the mail so I can get some new routines. I've been on a "fat loss" type routine since basically this time last year trying to lose the 5 lbs I gained after cancer plus the 5 lbs I gained being a nincompoop with the vending machine (which equals just enough weight that most of my clothes don't fit anymore, which is why this is kinda bothering me because I really don't want to spend $1,000 buying new suits). Which just proves that if you don't dial in nutrition, no amount of exercise is going to make you skinny. Anyway, my point in telling you this is only to say that I'm changing things up at the moment to more of a bodybuilding-style split - 4 days of lifting, alternating upper and lower body with optional cardio. Last week I did no cardio, this week I'm shooting for two 15 minute HIIT sessions after my leg workouts and two 30 minute moderate intensity cardio sessions on my off days. So it looks like this:

Sun: 30 minutes on the arc trainer + kundalini yoga
Mon: upper body, chest focus
Tues: 30 minutes on the stepmill + yoga
Wed: legs, quad focus + 15 minutes of HIIT
Thurs: upper body, back focus
Friday: yoga
Sat: legs, hip and hamstrings focus + 15 minutes of HIIT

These workouts are heavier lifts with fewer reps. I figure I should focus on building some strength and muscle before I might have to lose a bunch of it going hypo again for my scans.

Here was yesterday:

warmup - squats, lunges, back extensions

deadlift (4x6) superset with dumbbell split squats (static lunge) (4x8)
DL: .........................SS:
10 x 65#....... ........10 x 25 # db's
8 x 75# ...................10 x 25's
6 x 80#....................8 x 30's
6 x 95# ...................8 x 30's
6 x 115# .................8 x 30s
6 x 125# .................8 x 30's

good morning (3x8) superset with calf press on the hip sled (3 x 20)
GM: .......................Calf press:
8 x 65#................... 20 x 180#
8 x 75# ...................20 x 180 #
8 x 85# ...................20 x 180 #

HIIT on the bike (I wanted to puke a lung!)

I should credit this routine to Jen Heath, whose physique I covet:

OK time to get up and get this party started!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

New Look for the blog

I was sick of lookin' at those dots. This is MUCH better. I like the star. I need a new avatar... another day. Right now I need to get my ass up off the couch and get to the gym for some leg work and then off to get my groceries. I've been sitting here reading blogs and searching for jobs for two and a half hours now. Yikes! I actually applied for a few jobs. One in Hawaii working for the Air Force (intelligence) and two in Texas doing the same. Would I really move to Texas if I was offered a job there?? I don't know. There are so many things I don't like about living in the DC Metro area, but I know also that I'd just be trading in one set of problems for another. I can't help but wonder what it would be like if Adam was here and we lived together in a little house maybe somewhere in Northwest DC or the outskirts. Maybe I wouldn't mind it so much. I like my job soooo much and it would be really difficult to leave it under any circumstances. I'm just ready for a new chapter in my life. I'm ready to put the cancer stuff behind me (soon) and MOVE ON! I'm ready to be married to Adam and start our life together. I'm ready to have my own family. Right now I'm just in limbo. My cancer is not officially in remission yet and I still have more tests and procedures to go through, and I find myself starting out a new year all alone again in this big city. When am I gonna stop feeling like I'm just waiting?

Friday, February 08, 2008

Things I did not miss about Gold's in Ballston...

1. No one re-racks their weights. There are weights strewn around everywhere and you sometimes can’t find one or both of a set, especially 15-30 lb DB’s and 5 lb weight plates. Seriously, why is this so hard for people? I just can’t believe it half the time. When you leave plates on the bar, the next person who comes along is going to have to rack them in order to start their workout. It is so inconsiderate!

2. People who raid your bar when you walk off to do a superset. Because they can’t tell if you’re done. Because no one re-racks their weights. Especially if you sat there and watched me hunt for a 5# plate and you didn’t see me do a set yet. Yeah, you were sitting RIGHT NEXT TO ME, don’t tell me you didn’t notice.

3. Punk ass trainers who wear waaay to much frickin cologne/aftershave (it’s a gym for chrissakes) and work their clients with the 7 # db’s on flat chest presses… or the bosu ball. Give me a break. Piss off already.

4. People who bring their coffee and the paper to the weight room in the morning and roost on a bench doing bicep curls. And speaking of bicep curls….

5. … wannabe’s who do bicep curls (aka Frat Curls) in the gadammed squat rack. For the love of god, get a clue. And get out of my way! I should not have to wait in line to squat because you’re in there doing curls. By the way, when IS leg day anyway?!

Working out at a military gym was soooo nice because none of these shenanigans goes on there. Sigh. I pay actual money to deal with that shit. Some day I'm going to have a home gym - Bliss!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Hawaii Pics!!




Go here please!

Because it may be an eon before I get around to uploading them here... most of the highlights are on this page.




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