Monday, March 31, 2008


Adam left this morning to go back to Hawaii. I'm so sad! It's such a long time that we will have to be separated - it's hard to keep a positive attitude about it. November 2009 sounds so far away. :( We had a great time while he was here and I took the whole week off of work! That is the first time I've had a whole week vacation from work since I started working at the State Department in January 2006. The last time I was out for a whole week was last January when I had my radiation treatment and was in isolation; well, that was more than a week, but doesn't count as a vacation!! We went out to West Virginia and did some hiking and resting - no computer, not even cell phone coverage!! We also saw Luray Caverns on the way back to DC, which was pretty cool, they are pretty big! We went to Baltimore and saw the National Aquarium and all sorts of weird fish and sharks. And we saw the Cherry Blossoms, which are in bloom right now. Those are my favorite national "treasure" in DC! I'll post some pics soon.

I also took a whole week off from the gym, which is unheard of!! We were doing some hiking, and were pretty active so it wasn't like I was just slumming around, but I definitely needed a break from the weights. I could feel my motivation flagging in my workouts. This week I'm picking up again with New Rules of Lifting workouts, which have some unique exercises and pairings. I'll write a review soon of the book and workouts after I have a chance to do a few of them. Seems like there's less focus on heavy lifting, but maybe I just haven't gotten used to the exercises to move more weight yet. I'm interested to see if I get different results in programs Cosgrove designed specifically with women in mind.

Just wanted to check in and let y'all know I didn't break both my hands in a hiking accident or anything! Later...!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Weird times at EMS

Man I am tired today. I have not gotten enough sleep since Monday. I was at the gym this morning trying to do some half-assed cardio -- my body just does not feel recovered from my workout on Wednesday.

Tuesday evening I was out late at Hudson Trail Outfitters looking for hiking boots. I bought a pair of women's Vasque Breezes, but when I tried them on the next day they felt too small. So on Wednesday I went to Eastern Mountain Sports in Clarendon to try on some more boots. What an experience that was... the shoe salesman seemed a bit odd to start off. Then he asked me what I do and when I told him I work on Iran he started asking me all these questions, really putting me on the spot!! What are we doing about Iran, why aren't we doing more, how are we going to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, etc.

I was like, dude. I worry about these questions all. day. long. Seriously, we are doing a lot of stuff and we are doing our best as a government to take care of shit. Believe me, in most cases, even when it seems like the government is just screwing things up, there are real people working behind the scenes, just trying to do the best they can. Give us a frickin' break! So I finally asked him what HE thinks we should do.

To my surprise he started going off about how we need to bomb Iran and take out their nuclear facilities and do everything we can to stop them! Gak! Ok then. THEN he tells me Bob Galucci's son works right there in that very store! (Bob Galucci negotiated the previous nuclear deal with North Korea back in the early 90's). How weird is that?! It was a strange evening. But I did find some boots! I ended up with the men's Vasques. Love them.

And yesterday! ADAM arrived! YAY! He didn't get in until 8:30, but he's here now for a week and a half! Man it sucks to go off to work today and tomorrow, but next week I'm off on vacation! We are going out into the mountains of West Virginia to do some hiking and get away from the city. Bliss.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Thyrogen Scan Results

.... almost clean scan. I know. It's not what I was hoping to hear either! But it's most likely not cancer, just leftover thyroid tissue and I don't have to be retreated!

My mom came at 10 in the morning and we headed off for the adventure. First to the clinic for MORE bloodwork (at which I have to say, do they REALLY need that much blood?? REALLY?) and then on to the hospital for the scans. We were over an hour early so we stopped at the National Cathedral to light a candle. After our spirits were properly uplifted, we went down the street to Washington Hospital Center.

I'm always amazed whenever we park in the garage and walk across the street, through the clouds of cigarette smoke and people SITTING OUTSIDE THE CANCER CENTER SMOKING CIGARETTES. WTF.

I got called in right away and lay down on the machine. Dim room, radio on, Mom across the room reading magazines. The tech covered me with a warm blanket and put a pillow under my knees. Then the machine comes down really close, like a couple of inches, from my nose and sits there for about 10 minutes before it starts to slllloooowwly move down the rest of my body. Takes about 30 minutes total. I was groggy and sleepy when it was over. We had to walk down into the basement to nuclear medicine for two more scans - another big flat camera right over my face and neck that takes 20 minutes and then a pinhole focused right on my neck, another 20 minutes.

Then the waiting. Judge Judy is on the TV and the other women in the room were clucking and chatting about the appalling situations being aired on national television. I read Oprah's home magazine and ate my turkey burger and green pepper strips. Finally we were called back.

There's still a small spot, but most likely it is just residual thyroid tissue that might even continue to die off as time goes on. My bloodwork from Wednesday was negative for the marker that would indicate cancer, which is a very good sign. Another round of blood tests from Friday will confirm that, which I will not know until next week. So. Anticlimactic, but good overall. I can't say CLEAN scan, but it's the next best thing! Provided the results next week are NEGATIVE, I can say with confidence that I am CANCER FREE!!!

We had to drive through scary Northeast DC back to Arlington in the early DC rush hour. I was exhausted, but we had plans to go to Cheesecake Factory, so instead of home we headed to Clarendon to meet my aunt and have a wine before dinner time. I talked to several people on the phone about the results. My aunt, uncle and mom ordered a slice of Linda's fudge cake for dessert to celebrate my birthday, since I didn't get cake on my actual birthday. YUM. I ate the majority of it and don't feel guilty ONE SINGLE BIT. It was the perfect ending to the day!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Radioactive Iodine and TSH

Holy cow guys, my TSH is 165!!!! Normal range is only up to 5!! And my TSH before the Thyrogen was .04!!! That stuff really works. And I don't feel much of anything. I feel a little tired and I slept for about 10 hours last night, but other than that, I feel fine. Thank god for this drug.

I went in to Washington Hospital Center yesterday to get my radioactive iodine capsule. Down into the bowels of the hospital basement where the nuclear medicine department is. I saw another thyroid cancer patient with a neck scar like mine. Hers was quite pink and raised and lower on her neck, almost on top of her chest. My scar is almost totally invisible. You can hardly see it. I used Neosporin scar strips for about six months after my surgery and I think they really helped. Plus with my super healthy diet and taking fish oil caps, I think my skin probably heals better than others.

The nurse who gave me the Thyrogen injections told me THE WRONG INSTRUCTIONS about getting my blood work done. I was supposed to have a pregnancy test on MONDAY, but she told me I didn't have to get any blood work done! So I did the blood work yesterday, but I had to sign a waiver yesterday affirming that I was not pregnant before they would give the the RAI. I had a moment of hesitation because I haven't had regular cycles since stopping oral contraceptives last spring. I've only had one period since then. But I was 99.9% sure, so I signed the waiver and swallowed the little gray pill. (My blood work from yesterday confirmed that I am NOT pregnant.) They bring the RAI out from a vault in a little steel vial. I took a swig of water and down the hatch! I felt anxious and weird, but not because of the RAI.

So now if there are any cancer cells left in my body they have absorbed the RAI and will show up on my scan tomorrow. I really feel like I'm going to have a clean scan, but I'm still anxious about it. Going back to the hospital and going through all this again, I'm reliving going through it the first time. All the fear and anxiety comes back and I can vividly remember the experience.

That, and my salivary gland on the left side keeps getting worse, maybe even because of having to take more RAI. I'm pretty worried about it. I'm going to see the ENT on Monday, I just hope I don't have to have another surgery or anything like that.

Today is my last day on the low iodine diet, YAY! Tomorrow I get to have yogurt and fish and whey protein and my multivitamins and sea salt and chocolate and I don't have to eat egg whites and chicken ANY MORE!!!

I'm just hanging around being radioactive today, it's kind of nice to have a day off. Except I can't go to the gym... can't be sweating radioactive goo all over the equipment. Everyone think good thoughts and CLEAN SCAN tomorrow!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Thyrogen Injection - Part 2

So. I got the shots out of the way. The second one hurt a bit more than the first, but the aftereffects don't seem to be as achey. My right hip/leg is still kinda aching. I tried to do some cardio this morning but it just wasn't happening. Running felt like a stabbing pain where the shot was - yeowch! I feel tired today, but other than that I am fine. Today is my last day at work this week. My boss told me not to come in and poison him with my radiation - LOL - so I'm going to stay home and try to contain myself. (Snicker. Hehe - get it?! containment... :0)

Ok, going off to try and focus on my inbox....

Monday, March 10, 2008

Thyrogen Injection - Part 1 (and more Salivary Gland Pain)

I got my first thyrogen injection this morning. I got my blood pressure taken and then the nurse said, ok, turn around and lower your pants! That's the first time I can remember getting a shot in the rear. Today she did the right cheek and tomorrow will be the left (what?!). Good times. It didn't hurt too bad, although my heart was racing. The nurse told me, "You're about to feel a pinch, don't jump," but of course I did when she jabbed me. It stung a little and feels a little achey in my glute now. Not pain, not soreness... like a headache. In my ass. (What?!) She said I could still exercise, so I'm planning to do my cardio tomorrow as usual. Actually I have some cardio to do today too, if I still feel normal after work. I didn't get to it this morning after my workout because I was running late. I feel pretty normal now, no side effects to speak of yet. This is much better than stopping my medicine! Tomorrow I get another shot and then get my blood drawn; Wednesday I get the RAI and get my blood drawn; Friday I get my blood drawn and then have my scan.

Meanwhile, my left parotid gland is getting worse and worse. It's sore all the time now, even though it's not swelling as much when I eat. The inside of my cheek is all torn up, I assume from the swelling and my back molars, and it's super painful. I'm biting the bullet and making an appointment with an ENT. :(

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Year of Optimum Well-being

I didn't really want to displace that sweet picture of me and Adam from the top of my page cause I like lookin' at it, but it's time to update!

Yesterday I turned 28 - gawd it sounds so OLD. I totally thought - when I was younger - that I would have my life all figured out by this age. Married, kids, dog, minivan, etc. WRONG. How wrong I was! If you had told me in high school that on my 28th birthday, I would be living in Washington D.C. working a "front-page"** job for the State Department, missing my sweet boyfriend who I'll be separated from for the next two years and preparing for my first whole body scan after having CANCER, well... Well, I would have laughed in your face!! Haha. That's not MY life! In high school I still thought I was going to be some kind of a writer or, you know, someone who somehow gets paid to be deep and interesting. I thought I would NEVER work a desk job, never conform, never give in to The MAN! Especially not WORKING for The Man... no way! Are you kidding?! I read 1984!! Haha, my poor parents. Sigh. Sorry ma. I know I was incorrigible. But just look how I turned out! See, it all worked out in the end. It alllllways does.

No matter how bleak things seem, no matter how many doors slam in your face, no matter how much you worry and struggle, everything always works itself out in the end. I've been though my fair share of trials and tribulations and usually no amount of struggle on my part improves or changes the situation. Often when we can't see our way out or through, when we want and wish and strive, the thing we really have to do is wait. As the fates weave their tapestry all around us, finally other people and events will play themselves out, and a new door will open and we can move forward again.

I had a great birthday. I got a ton of gifts to unwrap from my sweet mom - some clothes and girly things. She always makes me feel like a princess on my birthday. I went to Ching Ching Cha, a Chinese tea house in Georgetown with my 3 best girlfriends here in DC. We ordered flowering teas and chatted and it was perfect weather for it, being damp and gray and chilly and rainy.

One of the girls is my cousin, Cara. She got married last year and she and her husband moved to DC right afterwards. We are the same age and our dads are identical twins, so our families have always been close and we grew up together. As much as she is like a sister to me, I admit I am a little resentful and jealous of her. We've walked the same path in life, even to our careers in international realtions (she's getting a PhD in political science). We've done basically the same things... but it's always seemed like she does them just a little bit better, has an easier time, always gets what she wants. My path has led through the thorny brier thickets, quicksand and mud holes and she's traveled on the paved superhighway.

Anyway, yesterday she was talking about starting a family in the next couple of years and I felt an intense pang of jealousy and bitterness. It's completely irrational and ridiculous... having kids is not a competition! But part of me wants to be FIRST, at that at least! I don't want to follow in her footsteps! And god forbid we get pregnant around the same time and go through it together. Cause I know how that will go. She won't have any morning sickness, she will stay thin everywhere except her stomach, the baby will pop right out and she'll put on her pre-pregnancy jeans the next day. Her baby will sleep through the night from day one and get a scholarship to Harvard before its first birthday. Who can compete with that?!

Why am I thinking about babies all the time?! Who knows. There really is something to the biological clock thing - my ovaries have a mind of their own. But it also symbolizes what I want most right now - to move on to that phase of my life, to be married, to even be in a position to think about having my own family. And I can't have that right now in the world that I've created for myself. Even if Adam and I get married before he finishes his assignment in Hawaii (in November 2009) it will still be almost two years from now before we can even think about building a life together.

These are the thoughts that keep me up at night. It's an inner struggle. Because I could easily leave my job and go to Hawaii and start that life I want so much. Seriously, how great would that be?! Hawaii, y'all. I don't even particularly like DC that much. The only thing holding me here is my career. If I only had 5 years to live... or, if I had terminal cancer, for example, I sure as heck wouldn't be sitting here in DC waiting. But if I'm not being fatalistic, then it's foolish to leave a good job, especially when it's entirely possible that Adam and I would come back here after he's done in Hawaii anyway.

See, this is the kind of situation that makes you want to struggle. To try and strive and work to change things, to figure SOMETHING out... but as I said before, I know from experience that what I probably have to do is wait. I have to open my eyes and my heart and my life to possibilities. To the possibilities and lessons of being apart from Adam, of it not being time yet.

My goal for this year is to be healthier and happier on March 8, 2009 than I am today. My 28th year is going to be the Year of Optimum Health and Happiness. The Year of Optimum Well-being. I am so grateful for everything in my life - for my family, for Adam, my job... I am the luckiest girl in the world. It's hard to imagine there could be more than this, but somehow I know this year will bring more abundance. Even if I don't have what I want now and don't get what I want now in the end, somehow I feel like things are going to keep getting better and better. Amazingly, impossibly better.

** in front page of the newspaper...I work. On those things.