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!

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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.

Thyroid Effects

I used to think the hardest thing I had to deal with was the co-morbidities I suffered from being super-morbidly obese.  I was an out of control diabetic, had CAD, I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and PCOS.  So, I had gastric bypass.  My co-morbidities were resolved.

Then, I had post obesity joint issues.  You would have thought I had that issue when I was fat, but it was worsened by the excessive weight loss I had.  So, I had surgery – three of them.

Then, I ended up with cancer.  I had a hysterectomy, chemo, radiation, and more chemo.  And put that behind me.

And then, graves disease.  I mean, really…c’mon.  Comedy. Of. Errors.

So, about 10 years ago, I had lasix.  I was seriously near-sighted.  They told me at the time that lasix couldn’t correct my vision completely, but for 10 years, I was blissfully glasses-free.  Until September of this past year.  I thought my vision issues had to do with the fact that combined with aging and the fact that lasix couldn’t correct my vision completely, it was just time.  So I got glasses.  I wear them for reading, and driving.  The next month, I found about the Graves, and had my thyroid ablated.

Well, I’ve noticed since my ablation, that my eyes were getting worse.  A couple of months ago, I finally put two and two together – thyroid issues cause eye problems.  So, I called my eye doctor back, and went to see him today.

Good news, there is no damage to my eyes.  However, the thyroid issues caused the muscles that allow my eyes to focus to deteriorate.  This means, that it is harder for me to focus.  My glasses are standard bifocals – meaning there is a clear line.  I have no mid-vision.  I can’t focus, which is causing eye strain.  It has also caused my eyes to worsen a bit.

So, after just six months, I need new glasses.  I will be getting the progressive lenses this time.  A shame – I adore my glasses now – the frames are so cute.  My new frames are too.  And thank goodness for insurance – the new glasses before insurance were nearly $1000.  The insurance knocked them down to $300.  Much easier to swallow that number.

Hopefully now, I’m at the end of the stupid medical roller coaster.  Because seriously?  Done.

Winter Can Suck It

The older I get, and the more arthritis I get, the more I think that I was meant to live somewhere more tropical.  People think that the Mid-Atlantic area is better in regards to snow, ice and cold than New England, and in some ways, it is, but in others, it’s just as bad.  Last year, we got snow every time someone farted – so much snow that it was comical.  Inches and inches.  And while New England is getting pounded with that this year, we are getting our standard “cold as heck, snow, sleet and freezing rain” nonsense.  What we affectionately (I use that term loosely) call “slush.”  It is gross.  My joints, already inflamed because of my thyroid, are screaming.

Everyone told me that clean eating would help my arthritis.  So far, I have not felt any change whatsoever.  I can tell when I fall off the wagon and eat something I shouldn’t, but that is more in regards to gastric distress that comes from having had RNY and massive amount of radiation.  My joints, however, have felt no difference.  Still the same amount of ache and swelling that I had prior to cutting out crap.

I full well realize that my thyroid meds still probably need to be upped.  But I’m sure I’d be happier in a more tropical climate.

I’ve been doing really well with my clean eating lately.  I’ve fallen in love with chia seeds.  Love them in my greek yogurt, and fresh fruit smoothies.  I love them added to oatmeal, or my clean eating muffins.  LOVE.

I don’t have any exciting recipes to share, but I thought I’d share a typical day of eating with you:

Thyroid meds are the first thing in the am.  I can’t have any solid food for an hour, nor anything other than water or black coffee.  That, of course, is first on my agenda.  Coffee.  I’ve really gotten used to drinking my coffee black.  After my first hour, if I want a treat, I add some coconut milk creamer to it.  But generally, I drink it black.  This week, Starbucks started carrying coconut milk, and I got a latte yesterday with coconut milk.  It was yummy, and a nice treat that is within my wheelhouse.  I avoid dairy milk and creamers in its purest form as it has a lot of lactose in it, and cow’s milk tends to keep my thyroid meds from adhering in my body.  I can’t do nut milks (like almond or cashew) because they work against thyroid meds as well.  I love the taste of coconut milk.

Typical breakfast – I tend to do fresh fruit (whatever the farmer’s market has – this week it has been fresh Florida strawberries and bananas) and 6oz of plain greek yogurt (I can do yogurt – it is processed differently than milk and high in protein).  I add a tablespoon of chia seeds and some honey.  Delicious.

Lunch has been homemade soup lately – either the veggie beef soup I have listed here, or this week, I made homemade chicken soup.  Recipe will be at the end of the post.  I have this with a few carrot sticks and a piece of fruit.

Dinner is some protein and lots of veggies.  Last night was a piece of crustless quiche made with spinach, swiss, mushrooms, bacon and onions.  I did use heavy cream in my quiche – I cup for the whole recipe, which was then divided into 8 servings.  Also, since I ate it at dinner, it was less likely to interfere with the thyroid meds.  Quiche recipe is also at the end of the post.

And that’s it.  I drink water and coffee pretty much all day long.  Occasionally I will have a glass of coconut milk.  Once in a great while, I will treat myself to a diet cola, but it is all chemicals so it is only a very once in a while treat.  I don’t snack unless it is on fresh fruit or veggies.

Chicken Soup:

1 frying chicken – mine was whole – skin, bones and all

4 cups of organic chicken stock and then water to cover the chicken.  Both go into a big soup pot.

Add 1 stalk of celery, 1 carrot, 1 diced onion, a chopped leek, fresh parsley and fresh chopped fennel fronds.  Bring to a boil.  (for the record, I do not peel my carrots – more vitamins and nutrients in the skins).

Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and add one chopped turnip, one sliced parsnip, one more sliced carrot and a couple more stalks of celery.

In 20 minutes, remove the chicken, but let soup simmer.  Here is where I add salt or pepper to taste.  When the chicken as cooled enough, remove skin and clean chicken from bones.  Avoid begging dog.  Oh wait, we don’t all have one of those?

Add chicken back to pot and throw in a small bag of frozen mixed veggies ( or whatever other veggies you want).  Season more to taste.  I let simmer for about 20 more minutes.

This makes a ginormous pot of soup, but my hubs and I generally eat it that night for dinner, and then we take it to work all week.  He adds hot pepper seeds to his – me, I prefer mine more chicken soupy tasting.

Yes, that is a technical term.

Quiche

4 eggs, beaten

1 c of heavy cream (or light cream, or half and half – just not milk, you need the fat content)

8oz of baby spinach, chopped

8oz button mushrooms, sliced

1 c shredded cheddar cheese

6 slices of bacon, fried, and chopped

1 onion, diced or 1/4 c. of green onions chopped (or both, if you like onions – whatevs)

coconut oil

Grease a 9″ pie pan with the coconut oil.  This is an important step as your quiche is crustless.

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large skillet, cook your bacon.  Remove from pan and drain on paper towels, and then chop.  While bacon is cooling, add onions to bacon grease and brown until translucent.  Remove from skillet.

In pie plate, add bacon and onions.  Then layer spinach, mushrooms and cheese.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and cream.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour egg mixture over veggies in the pie plate.

Bake in the oven 30 to 45 minutes or until eggs set.  Check at 30 minutes – knife inserted into center will come out clean.

Scarf down.

The Search Continues

So, the Blizzard of 2015 was a Bust here in the Delaware/Philly area – we were expecting up to 12 inches of snow here, and got nothing.  Literally, nothing.  We had about a half an inch earlier in the day from a clipper system that went through, but Juno missed us completely.  I was prepared to reschedule our appointment to look at a house Tuesday night because of the storm (and work from home in my pjs) when I woke up Tuesday morning and we didn’t have so much as an ice crystal.  Not that I’m complaining – I’m not.  I hate snow.  HATE.

So, Tuesday night, we went over the only potential house we had on our list.  It was a 4 bedroom, bath and a half split level, in a nice neighborhood only 6 minutes away from my Mom’s.  It had a one car garage, nice backyard, and allowed pets.  These are the deal breakers on our list – it has to be in the area of our current commute, at least a one car garage with off-street parking, and I can’t do a ton of steps, so yeah.  Plus, rent was just under $1600 a month.  It’s a cute house – well landscaped, nice yard that isn’t too big.  The house was built in the early 60s.  We went in, and it was nicely kept – hardwood floors in th entry way, and then up the stairs to a great room (living room/dining room).  To the right of the entry way was a carpeted room I’m thinking they used as a large bedroom – with access to the garage, basement, and a very small bedroom.  Across from that was the powder room, and backdoor which led to the patio.  The carpets were new, and it was freshly painted.  There were 3 more bedrooms upstairs and a full bath.  The negatives were that they had painted two of the bedrooms in this rather dark blue color – combined with blue carpet, which made the master bedroom and small bedroom DARK.  And the closets were tiny.  I mean, I couldn’t have gotten a winter coat in them.  Or I could, but I couldn’t have gotten anything else in them.  And the bathroom, which had been redone, was still a 1962 bathroom – meaning you had to turn sideways to get between the sink and the shower, just to get to the toilet.  And the kitchen had not been updated ever.  Original cabinets, which I could deal with, but the oven was original to the house, and I couldn’t have cooked too much in it – it was so small I couldn’t have gotten a turkey or a ham in it.  The stove was also original to the house, and looked sketchy.  Dark green formica countertops.  And it was SMALL.  I lived for years in Maryland with a tiny galley kitchen.  No more.  Nope.

So we passed on it.  I have gotten Mr. G to agree to looking at some apartments.  There are some luxury apartments in the area, where rent is $1200 per month – 3 bedroom, 2 full bath, with open pet policies.  Thankfully, Mia doesn’t fit into the breed restriction list.  I hate BSL – hate it.

So, we decided to wait a few more months – I’m going to use my bonus to pay off my credit card debt and fund our trip to Colorado later this year.  And in the meantime, without the debt, I can easily sock back $1000 or more a month until June or July to have money for furniture AND the deposits required to get into where ever we land.

In other news, I the thyroid is still making for rough sleep, and the bronchitis is still hanging in there with a horrible cough.  I fell off my clean eating wagon hard over the weekend, realized it was because of emotional issues, and gave myself a kick in the ass.  I have been good all week.  I tried a recipe I found on Pinterest for glutten-free peanut butter banana bread.  The recipe had been given rave reviews for having great texture and taste.  I made it, and it was, well, AWFUL.  The texture is just, well, no.  It’s made with coconut flour, bananas, all-natural peanut butter and applesauce.  I mean, it was bad.  B-A-D.  I won’t even post the recipe.  I’ve been choking it down (brought the last piece in my lunch today) because I hate to waste food, but yeah, this is going in the “never again” category.   Too bad – I love peanut butter and bananas.

Mostly this week we have been eating a pot of veggie beef soup I made over the weekend (Mr. G loves soup for his lunch and I was sick of him eating that canned crap), and I found some gluten-free meatballs at BJs that are terrific.  They are the Cook Perfect Italian Style Gluten Free Meatballs.  I threw them in the crock pot over the weekend with tomatoes, diced onions and celery, and some no-salt tomato sauce and let them go for about 4 hours on low.  I have been taking them for lunch (or we have been eating them for dinner) with some fresh mozzarella cheese, and it makes a great meal.  The hubster has his with a roll (I’m taking baby steps with him).  I must say, I feel so much better cutting out all the processed crap.  I’m eating tons of fresh fruit and veggies.  My energy is starting to come back, I’ve actually lost some of the thyroid weight I put back on, and I know my body is happier cutting out the bad fats, cow’s milk (except for cheese and greek yogurt), and sweeteners.  I do use a smidgen of honey for a sweetener – all natural, no processing like is found with the packaged sweeteners like Splenda, Nutra-Sweet, saccharine and even Stevia (yeah, it IS processed – unless you are squeezing your own stevia leaves).

Oh, and Miss Peanut is now one month old!  Holy Moly!  Where has this month gone?  She’s up to 8.6 pounds and has grown an inch and a half from her birth.  She’s long and lean and gorgeous!

House Hunting Sucks

I had seriously forgotten what a PITA it is to look for a new place.  And seriously, my husband doesn’t want to bend on any of his wants, which makes this hard.  We are looking for a rental and he thinks he’s going to get everything he wants in a rental.  I keep trying to tell him that everything he wants may not come in a rental.  In fact, it probably wouldn’t even come in a house we decided to buy.  But still…

And I am skeeved out by the number of folks out there who are trying to push rental scams.  I have hit 4 in the past two weeks.  People who keep telling me they only want a “good Christian family” to look after their homes and can you provide X, Y and Z in an email.  Nope.  Nope nope nope.  We are going through a realtor now.  I am not going to be scammed.  I’ve worked in the business too long.  Problem with the realtor we have is getting him to actually call me back.

In other news, I am now one week into my new dosage of thyroid meds.  They have an 8 day half-life, so I shouldn’t be feeling any difference with the higher dosage, and I’m not.  I feel less crappy than I did, but that is more than likely because the bronchitis is getting better.  I still have an annoying cough, but I don’t feel like death warmed over.

I’m still eating cleanly.  I slipped yesterday, and added some pasta to my tomato sauce and gluten-free meatballs.  Only about a quarter of a cup.  Made me feel like crap.  Lesson learned.  Back to clean this morning.  Good news is, I am thinking the new dose of thyroid meds, combined with the older, smaller dose of meds may actually be working now because I got on the scale for my weekly weigh in and I’m back down to under 180 – my warning number.  My body sat happily around 175 for months, and then when they killed my thyroid, I shot up to 186 and it scared the hell out of me.  My warning number is 180 – the one that makes me freak out a little bit.  I am terrified of going back over 200 pounds (I mean, I spent over 30 years there, so yeah).  Without a functioning thyroid, you can’t lose weight, or maintain.  Now that my thyroid hormones have started to kick in, I’m going back in the right direction.  PHEW.  Maybe, just maybe, when this is all said and done and my dosage is evened out to the proper level, I’ll get off the last 20 or so pounds I want to lose.  Maybe.  If not, and I stay in the 170s, I’m good with that too – but being in the 160s, or the 150s, that would thrill me.  Especially for my long-term maintenance and my height.

I’ve also noticed my skin is looking much better now that I’m eating cleanly and getting my thyroid on the right path.  I still have some puffiness under my eyes and some dark circles (classic thyroid symptoms) but they are getting better.  I have added some very nice eye cream to my routine (Clinique).  Skin care is incredibly important for people like me – people who have had weight loss surgery, but also diabetics (even if it is in remission), and post cancer patients (our skin has been through the ringer with radiation and chemo), and thyroid patients.  I have a strict skin care routine I follow every day – and I do pay for the Clinique because it is worth it.  I wash and tone, and moisturize twice a day.  And it pays off, but with the thyroid issues, my complexion was waxy looking, and uneven, and red and ruddy.  But with the clean eating and the thyroid, my complexion is improving – I don’t look so red and ruddy anymore – more even, and supple.  And I don’t look so tired.  That’s a plus.  I’m still fighting horrible fatigue, but I don’t look like I just crawled out of bed all the time.  So, little changes.

And I forgot my freaking cell phone at home today.  So, I won’t actually know if the realtor contacts me today.  I feel naked without my cell.  I mean, my office phone is here, and it works, but MY CELL PHONE ISN’T HERE OMG.  I guess I’ll call the realtor’s office when I go to lunch.  BAHAHAHAA…that is, if I get one today.  Sigh.

Swinging

I saw my endocrinologist on Monday.  Turns out the blood work I had done the week prior didn’t include my thyroid numbers, so I had to have MORE blood work at his office on Monday.

He did say that I was starting to exhibit signs of low thyroid – puffiness around my eyes, some fluid retention, my cholesterol numbers were up (but I didn’t think they were awful), and my blood pressure was coming down.  He said he could feel just a little bit of my thyroid left, and I hadn’t lost any weight at all since my last visit.  My vit D was really really low and as a result, I have rickets.  He said if the tests came back confirming the Hypothyroid, I was going on synthyroid.

Well, the results came in yesterday, and I am low.  So, I picked up the meds last night, and started them this morning.

Thyroid meds have a really specific plan of action to get them to work.

I have to take them when I get up for the day.  I can’t take them, and then go back to bed.  Up and moving, take my meds.

I can’t take them with the vitamins I am still on (D2 and B12).  I can’t eat anything for one hour after taking them.  I can’t have any juice or milk at all (I don’t partake in either since he told me that diabetics should never have either – not even ones who re in remission).  I can have black coffee, black tea or water in the hour between.  I have to take my other meds in the am with the synthyroid.  So, yeah.  Also, they stay in your system 8 days.  If I miss a dose in the am, I have to wait until the next day and then double my dose.  I confirmed that because of my plumbing, they would in fact, stay in my system, and they will.  So, good on that.  I have noticed today that the water retention is leaving my system – lots of running to the bathroom.

I need to remain on my very strict diet so I don’t put weight back on and I am allowed to work on losing the last 15 to 20 pounds.  Also, still no exercise because of the Vit D deficiency.

And, it will take about 12 months for the meds to adjust correctly.  I may also have to adjust my dosage throughout my lifetime.

This whole finding normal thing?  It’s taking way longer than I thought.  Guess I am a work in progress.  But that is not a bad thing…at least I seem to be progressing.  🙂