This Time of the Year

I’m coming up on my diagno-aversary.  Is there such a word?  If not, I’m claiming it.  A week from today will be 4 years since my office diagnosis.  And even though I have had appointments, blood work, and recent surgery which show me as NED (No Evidence of Disease), I still get the heebie jeebies.  I don’t think that will ever go away.  Ever.

On the hernia recovery front, each week has gotten a little bit easier.  My tummy and abs are still very tender.  The area where the mesh was put in will be sore for a while.  My surgeon is kind of awesome – he doesn’t sugar coat things.  I asked him how long that would hurt, and he basically told me, “Until it doesn’t hurt anymore.”  LOL

I’ve been back at work for a week now.  And, as usual, when I have had to file a claim for Short Term Disability with Metlife, I’ve been screwed out of a week’s pay.  My case manager is horrible and she doesn’t return calls or communicate at all.  She asked me to call her on the 1st (the day I saw my surgeon) and give her an update on my status.  I did, as well as faxing a copy of the letter I got stating I could return to work on 8/8.  I also had my surgeon’s office send over the office notes and other supporting information.  I confirmed all of this stuff had been received on 8/3.  This past Saturday, after I called and left several messages asking the status of my case, she FINALLY left me a message (with no call back number) telling me I had 1) not called her on the 1st (bull – I had the name of the person I spoke with because she was not answering her phone); 2) had not provided the requested information (again, had confirmation all faxes had been received on 8/3); and 3) hernia repair surgery only requires a 2 week recovery time.  Yeah – I guess if that is the only thing you are dealing with.  I sent her another SCATHING email this morning, with everything she requested.  I had my doctor’s office fax over the stuff again.  I also laid out for her each time I had called, who I spoke with, and what was faxed.  I also informed her that perhaps if HER paycheck had been $1,000 short, she’d think differently about her nasty voicemail.

Sigh – I guess I’ll continue to fight for what is mine.  Always.

In other news, I am feeling better.  Work is work, and life goes on.

 

Lost in Thoughts

I’m coming to discover that this time of year gives me heavy anxiety.  I think it has to do with the fact that this was when I was going through chemo (three years ago – wow), learning to deal with the diagnosis, etc.  Something about the change in the air, the days getting shorter, the changing of the leaves…who knows?  I hope it isn’t this way forever.

I am scheduled to see my gynecological oncologist next week.  We were on vacation in Dallas last week (amazing time!!) and while I was there, I noticed a pain in my groin I want him to check out.  I didn’t bother calling since I know I have an appointment next week.  For some reason, I’m quite zen about it.

So, we were visiting my brother-in-law and sister-in-law while on vacation.  My sister-in-law was recently diagnosed with Stage One Ovarian Cancer this year.  She’s still very angry about it.  She kept saying to me, “I am mad.  I don’t want a new normal, I want my old normal.”  Sigh.  It made me thing about the 5 stages, and if I went through them.  I don’t know that I ever did.  I think I went straight to acceptance.  Actually, thinking about it, it’s more I went in to, “Well, shit.  What do I need to do to not have this anymore?”  I have never been one to deal with the Why Me part of illness.  Takes too much of my energy worrying about why me.  I just hope my sister-in-law is able to find peace on her journey.  Do I think you can get back to your old “normal?”  Not after a cancer diagnosis.  It is always there.  It never goes away.  You can make your new normal better than your old one.

In a completely new note, I’ve been seeing a chiropractor.  I have arthritis in my ass.  LOL Technically, it is a frozen SI joint (where your tail bone and pelvis meet). Actually, I’ve had it for years.  I was seeing a Physical Therapist just prior to my cancer diagnosis (when we thought the SI joint was actually the cause of my hip pain) but quit when I got the cancer diagnosis.  It’s been really bothering me lately, so I decided to go see a chiropractor.  I’m definitely looser.  I am hoping it helps.

Exercise and diet going well.

Send some good vibes for the groin pain – hoping it’s just a small infection.

Still Clean Eating

I have been doing the 21 Day Fix since August 24th, with modifications from my doctor.  I am clean eating (no chemicals), low carb, high(er) fat, high protein.  In a month, I have taken off 14 of the 30 pounds I gained after my thyroid was radiated.  I exercise 6 days a week (three days of cardio, three days of strength training).  I have a protein shake a day (Shakeology for now, but I’m not fond of the taste, so I will probably switch back to the brand I do like), 3 meals, no snacks.

And hey, I think 14 pounds in a month is pretty darned good, don’t you?

I have been forced to look for recipes that I can modify.  Before when I did low carb, I could do pumpkin, or a small bit of sweet potato, and beans.  I mean, refried beans are a bariatric patient’s best friend after surgery.  My endocrinologist will not allow me to have any of those things.  I miss pumpkin – it was a good starch replacement.

And can I just say that I’m really sick of eggs for breakfast?

I mean, not to complain, my numbers are all excellent.  I’m down 14 pounds and 11 inches.  I’m getting in 10,000 steps per day.  I’m healthy and fit and happy.  I’m sore as all get out from working out, and not from being lethargic.

I did finally find a recipe that I could follow that was eggs for breakfast, but not actually like eating eggs.  I love French Toast.  Always have, always will.  I found a recipe on Pinterest for toastless french toast.

Soften 2oz of cream cheese in the microwave for 20 seconds.  Add to a blender with 2 eggs, a splash of vanilla, cinnamon (it calls for pumpkin pie spice, but I hate nutmeg) and blend until smooth.  Then I take some frozen blueberries or strawberries (or whatever fruit I have) and put it in a microwavable bowl.  I add the egg mixture to the bowl and stir in one package of Stevia.  Then, you microwave it for 1.5 minutes.  Flip it over, and microwave it again for another 30 seconds.  The recipe says to use honey on it, but I just eat it like it is.  Yummy.  I usually have that with turkey bacon.

Also, veggies are getting boring.  I eat a ton of salads with salsa and smashed avocado.  Last week, I re-discovered sugar snap peas – they give me the crunch I’m looking for from chips, but without all the carbs and junk.

I’ve also had to increase my red meat consumption to up my iron.  I have adapted the 21 Day Fix Turkey Meatball recipe to use ground sirloin.  I omit the panko.  Really yummy.  I serve it to Mr. G with pasta sauce.  I just eat them like they are, or make it into a meatloaf.

So, all this seems to be paying off.  And optimal health will help keep that cancer in remission.  Sad that it took me 43 years to figure that out.

Anemia Update

I went back to the endocrinologist yesterday for a follow-up and to get the results of the additional blood work.  My B12 levels are fine (hello, supplements) but I have an iron deficiency.  He again insisted I must be bleeding from somewhere, but I have no symptoms of an ulcer, no bleeding from anywhere that I can see, am a gastric bypass patient with malabsorbtion issues, and a cancer patient.  My level of worry about my iron deficiency is kind of low.  He put me on an iron supplement (oh yay, hello constipation) and told me to take it with MEAT.  I told him I don’t really eat much red meat and he told me to up my red meat intake as it is the only way my body will probably absorb that iron.

Okie dokie then.  We’re having red meat for dinner tonight.

He also gave me a script for the Iron pill.  It’s the same dosage you get from the OTC kind but at least with a script, I can use my healthcare account to purchase it.

I also promised I’d see my gastrointerological oncologist (I had my regular visit scheduled for Monday anyway).  I told him I’d take all the blood work with me.  I have already spoken to BOTH my oncologists on the phone, so they aren’t worried.  If they aren’t worried, I’m not.

Big thing about people who have had gastric bypass – um, we can be anemic.  We don’t absorb vitamins and minerals as easily as someone with normally constructed guts.  Our guts have been rearranged specifically to NOT absorb things.  So, yeah.  I told him that.  We’ll see what the iron supplement does.

In other news, thanks to my daily exercise plan, and eating right, I had lost five pounds from last week to this week.  And also, my glucose readings were spot on.  I’m pushing protein, veggies, good oils and fruits and eliminating all types of sugar (any fruit juices even squeezes of lemon/lime, all artificial sweeteners because Stevia is just fructose, etc).  I feel much better doing my clean eating (well, the muscles are all up in arms about working out), but I feel amazing.

So, we’ll see what the oncologist says next week.

In other news, tomorrow is my birthday.  Yay!  I’m working all day, and probably late at that.  Boo!

Three Words That Strike Terror Into a Cancer Patient

You are anemic.

I went to the endocrinologist yesterday for my checkup on my thyroid.  I had all my blood work done last week.  They took about 5 vials, so I knew he was doing a full workup.  When I saw him yesterday, the first thing he did was bitch because my glucose numbers were higher than what he wanted (mine are usually around 110 to 115 – excellent for someone who used to be in the 300s daily) but he wants them between 70 and 99.  For me, that’s too low – I get dizzy and hypo.  I told him that, but yeah.  So, now I have to prick my finger 4 times a day and write down everything I put in my mouth.  Now, I’ve been following the 21-day Fix eating plan for the past two weeks.  It’s really low carb, clean eating.  Nothing processed.  I do a daily protein shake because I’ve stepped up my work outs.  The protein shake is very low in sugars (less than 6g) – Shakeology.  I stick to low glycemic fruits.  No bread, rice, potatos, grains, etc.  I do, occasionally, have to eat some steel cut oats to get things moving once in a while, but that’s it.  Oh, and I do eat quinoa.  No nuts or nut butters because they interfere with my thyroid meds.  So, overall, eating incredibly healthy.  But he has told me absolutely no starches, nothing to drink but water or black coffee (not an issue – I do this already).  No dairy.  Three meals a day, no snacks (I was doing 6 small because I felt better, but ok – I can do anything for 7 days) and go back and see him in a week to see if it makes a difference.  We’ll see.

Then he was looking at my other numbers.  Vit D is good.  LDL is 136.  HDL is 72. Tryglicerides are in the 50s.    Thyroid numbers indicate my meds are a bit high, so he cut that back.  But…

He looks at me and says, “You’re anemic.”

Yes, I knew it because I’ve felt a bit tired and was craving raw rice.  I do that when I’m anemic.

“Well, you are bleeding from somewhere – must be your periods.”

Nope, haven’t had one of those in 3 years.

“Then you must have a polyp in your colon.”

WHAT?

How do you even tell someone that when they are a cancer patient with a Lynch Syndrome diagnosis??

I told him I see my gastrointrological oncologist on the 21st, but my scan last year came back clean.  I’ve had no symptoms.  Exactly how anemic am I?  Could it be my B12?  My iron?  (A bariatric patient knows to ask these things – she was calm and level headed in my brain.  The cancer patient was freaking the eff out.)

So he drew more blood to test for my B12 levels (um, you didn’t do that in the 5 other vials you took last week??).  I go back in a week.  I was, of course, freaked out.

So I got in the car and called my oncologist.  Of course, he wasn’t available (I mean, he is a surgeon) so I left a message.

Dr. Rao called back last night around 6 and talked me off a wall.  He said that nearly everyone who undergoes what my body has gone through will experience some level of anemia.  It’s directly correlated to the chemo and the massive amounts of radiation I have gone through.  He asked me, “How anemic are you?”  I told him the doctor said only slightly.  Dr. Rao said, “Meh – I’m not worried about it.  You aren’t bleeding from anything.  Call me if your numbers come back showing severe anemia and we’ll talk, but otherwise, you are fine.  Enjoy your remission and I”ll see you next month.”

Big. Huge. Sigh. Of. Relief.

I do see my gastro oncologist on the 21st.  Am hoping this year for no colonoscopy – kind of over medical procedures.

Realized today that I started chemo 3 years ago on the 10th.  Time flies, and stands still all at the same time.

Oh, and September is Gynecological Cancer Awareness month.  Just a reminder to make sure you get your pap smears and GYN visits.  Annually. No excuses.  Fight for it.  And wear your peach and teal to honor the fighters.  We may not all be survivors, but we are ALL fighters.

I continue to Fight Like a Girl.

Oh Hai

I’m here – not much to write about, and busy with work, and stir-effing-crazy from being stuck in the house so much.

We had an ice storm Sunday night into Monday morning, so I worked from home yesterday.  This afternoon, we are expecting another ice storm.  EFF ME.  I’m working from home again today because it is supposed to start about 2pm or so.  I didn’t want to get stuck downtown.  Tomorrow is supposed to rain all day.  Thursday we are expecting the biggest snow of the season.  Six to nine inches.  I had a follow-up appointment this week with my endocrinologist regarding my thyroid.  It was originally scheduled on Monday, but because of the ice storm got moved to Thursday.  Now it has been moved from Thursday to next Tuesday.  If it snows next Monday, I may scream.

Eating as been going well.  I know my thyroid is still out of whack because my weight is going nowhere.  If it were ok, I’d be losing weight just based on what I’m eating.  Yesterday I could have kicked myself.  I got up, took my thyroid meds, and went downstairs to pack my husband’s lunch and fix myself some coffee.  Now, when you take synthroid, you can’t have any food for one hour after taking the pill, or it won’t adhere in your system.  Well, not thinking, I popped a strawberry in my mouth while packing my husband’s lunch.

Dangit.

So, today i had to double up on the synthroid.  I really could have kicked myself because I really am super careful about that kind of thing.  My brain yesterday was just on auto pilot.  Sigh.

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16 Years

Seems like a lifetime, and seems like yesterday all in the same breath.

16 years ago, I lost my big sister to Ovarian Cancer.

16 years ago, I spent this day, in a chair, in her bedroom, watching her sleep.  I woke up that day, knowing that it was the day.  I called out from work and told them I just knew.  And I did.  I drove down with my mother, and I sat with her all day.  She didn’t wake the entire day – just laid there.  It was probably the most restful day she’d had in over a week – her sleep was peaceful, breathing wasn’t labored.  She just was.  And I was just there.  I said little, just watching my big sister sleep.  Wishing a thousand wishes that this wasn’t going to be the end, that she wake, and smile at me, and the nightmare of the past six month would be over.

My sister knew I was there.  She held on all day.  She refused to let go while I was there.

Mom and I told my brother-in-law around 4:30 or 5 that we were going home to get dinner.  We stopped and got some chinese take-out on the way home, and just as we sat down to eat, the phone rang.

She had passed while we were driving home.

My sister was beautiful.  Simply beautiful.  She had a laugh that to this very day I remember – high-pitched and glorious – full of joy and merriment.  She was a brilliant woman, and a great mom.  She was that typical sister – you know, the perfect one.  Beautiful and smart, and couldn’t do wrong.  She had a temper that could sting, and a look that could wither, but to her friends, she was a saint.  To her children, she was their world.

To me, she was my Sissy.

We didn’t know about Lynch Syndrome then – although we should have.  My dad had passed from colon cancer.  My other sister had also had colon cancer a few years before.  And then, Betsy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  We never put two and two together.

Then, in 1998 when she got her diagnosis, it was a death sentence.  People now, who are diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer have a better shot at remission, but then, no.  Betsy got her diagnosis in November 1998.  She had stem cell replacement, and was in remission by December (treated in the same hospital where I received my treatment).  In February, the cancer was back – and moved swiftly.  By February 14th, a blood clot presented in her leg.  By the 19th, it moved to her brain and caused a stroke.  By the 20th, she begun hemorrhaging as the cancer ate through her colon.  And by the 23rd, she was gone.

My sister left a legacy.  Three beautiful children who are now adults.  She never saw them graduate from highschool or college.  She never saw the way they blossomed into adulthood.  She missed her girls’ weddings, and the birth of her grandchild (I won’t say she never met him – she knows Keegan, and I hope, through us, he will know her).

I miss my sister.  Not a day goes by where I don’t think about her in some small way.  She’s in my dreams.  She’s on the tip of my tongue, at the back of my brain.  She is in her kids, and her grandchild.  She’s in my heart.

16 years.

I miss you.