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.

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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.

Surfacing Cleanly

Between feeling like crap because of the bronchitis, and feeling even more crappy because of low thyroid, it is pretty obvious that lately, I have felt like crap.

I have started to surface over the past couple of days and am starting to feel better.  My endocrinologist upped my thyroid meds last week, so it may be they are starting to kick in, but the full effect of that won’t really be evident for another week or so.  I know the bronchitis is getting better.  I also know that cutting out all the crap in my food has helped.

Clean eating has been a good thing.  Getting rid of food that is full of chemicals and preservatives has been beneficial.  Cutting out bad carbs, most dairy (I still eat greek yogurt and cheese but no milk or cream), nitrates, preservatives, and general crap has just made me feel better.  My skin looks great, even more elastic.  Things that sagged before on my face don’t seem to sag as much.  Black circles under my eyes are starting to fade. 

I was skeptical at first, but this is working.

I have also given up all artificial sweeteners, including stevia, which still has to go through chemical processing.  I use honey to sweeten things, just a bit, and it has not had the same craving effects that artificial sweeteners have given me.  In fact, my cravings are not there because there is a clean eating alternative to it, that is natural, and good! 

I can see the visible results of clean eating, and feel the health benefit.

Nature…who knew? 

And, a quick recipe.

Last night, I made chicken for dinner.  I took boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and made horizontal slits through them.  In the slits, I put a little pepperjack and cream cheese.  I seasoned it with some garlic powder and herb de province, and covered the breats in sliced mushrooms.  Baked it at 375 for 35 minutes, and served it with steamed broccoli and cauliflower.  For dessert, I made a fresh fruit salad of an orange, a pink grapefruit, strawberries, blueberries, a banana.  I dressed it with a dressing made of greek yogurt, honey, a little lemon juice, chopped mint, and chia seeds.

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Delicious!  Even the husband approved!

Cardiologists and Endocrinologists and Oncologists, Oh My!

I took a Staycation this week because I worked over Christmas, and have been catching up on doctor appointments.

Tuesday, I had my semi-annual follow up with my cardiologist.  It has now been 11 and a half years since my heart attack.  My heart is sounding great, and the cardiologist says there is no longer any evidence of the heart disease I once suffered.  Thank you gastric bypass!!  But my cardiologist told me that I need not be suffering from the joint pain, muscle pain and fatigue from my (now) hypothyroid.  He told me to call the endocrinologist and speak to him.

This morning I had my three month follow up with my gynecological oncologist.  Aside from the freezing exam room and tear I got from my physical exam, everything looks great.  No evidence of disease 29 months and counting.  Officially 23 months in remission.  After April, my visits will go to once every six months until I hit my five year mark, and then once a year for the rest of my life.  My oncologist also told me to call the endocrinologist.

So this afternoon, I saw my endo.  He tells me it has only been five weeks on the synthroid, and it usually takes six, but he drew blood, and I call in Tuesday to see if my hormones need to be upped.  I go back in March.  I hope to get this sorted out soon.

So, a week full of doctor appointments.  I have been clean eating for 8 days now, and it is going well.  Weight hasn’t moved (thank you thyroid, and screw you) but I haven’t gained either. 

So, that’s that.

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Waiting…waiting waiting waiting…sigh

The CT scan went well. They actually found a vein in my arm that wasn’t completely destroyed by Chemo and stuck me on th efirst shot. Hallelujah. The test took less time than finding a viable vein, but it’s done with. Now I wait. I called the raditional oncologist office this morning to let them know the test had been done. It wasn’t in their system yet. Hopefully I find out today or tomorrow if all is well. Fingers crossed.

Waiting…waiting waiting waiting…bah

We are nearly ready to go on vacation. I have just called all our reservations and confirmed them. Flight is confirmed. I have requested handicapped assistance due to my knee. The nice thing about flying from Wilmington is that we won’t have to pay for parking. The hard thing is that we are used to flying out at 8am, and now we don’t leave until 2, so it kind of shoots down the whole day. We get in at 4:45. We have decided to take only carry-ons so we won’t have to deal with baggage claim, and we’ll just go straight to pick up car and head to Aunt Linda’s. So excited.

Just hope the results of the CT scan don’t ruin the mood of the trip.

Waiting…waiting waiting waiting…hmph.