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.

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Pity Party, Table For One Please

I generally try not to get down on myself.  I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, and do unto others.  I try to support people I love – family and friends, even those I’ve never met in person but only know on the Interwebz.  I don’t ask or expect much in return – a thank you, a smile, and then when I need it, a little returned support.

I have noticed anymore that people are just downright rude.  No one says “Thank You” anymore – I mean, I know people probably don’t write “Thank You Notes” anymore (I always do), but at least acknowledge people’s efforts.  I have also noticed that people think it is ok to say, “No offense” before any statement and it won’t hurt the other person’s feelings.

What’s worse, when I need support, no one is there for me.

Usually, I’m pretty stoic about stuff like that.

But I am feeling a little needy here lately – huge amounts of stress with work, a new business, and school starting in about a month – well, my nerves are a bit frayed, and I need someone to just tell me things will be ok.  Stroke my hair and tell me I’m pretty.  Give me a piece of chocolate.  A glass of wine.  A “Hey, you look cute.”  Anything.

I have my launch party scheduled for next month.  I sent invitations to that launch party a month in advance.  My sister can’t come – she has to work, and that gives her a pass.  My bestie more than likely has to work that day too – but booked a party for herself.  My nieces can’t come – they have other parties/etc.  Another “friend” told me today if I were selling Pampered Chef she’d come because she likes that stuff.

Seriously – you can’t just come and give me some support?  Have a glass of wine?  Pretend to be excited for me?

I would do it for them.

I realize direct sales stuff isn’t for everyone.  I’m ok with that.  I can’t tell you how many parties I’ve gone to, how many things I’ve ordered that I didn’t need, all because a friend was doing it and I wanted to show them I was supporting them.

It makes me sad.

It also makes me want to reconsider what I do for other people.

I guess I expect too much out of humanity.

Bah.  Bugger.  Whatever.

I’ll remember this next time.  It doesn’t mean I won’t do what I normally do, but I will remember where to go when I do need someone to help me out.

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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Swamp Gas

So, until my husband met me, he didn’t think women actually farted.  Don’t ask me how he got to be in his 40s without hearing a chick fart, but he did.

And, if there are dudes out there who still don’t think women get gas, I am sorry to ruin your ideal image.

I can crack them with the best of them.

And, now that I have had both gastric bypass but also radiation on my guts, well, they are rancid.

Swamp gas rancid.

Gag enducing.

The past couple of days, my stomach has acted up.  Probably from the carbs I ate.  I made bread this weekend and had ONE PIECE.  Just one.  One thin lively piece of yeasty goodness.

And now I remember why that was a bad idea.

For two days, my insides have been paying me back with a room clearing attack of gas that could be mistaken for biological warfare.

I even broke out the GASEX tonight.  And peppermint tea.

Pray for my husband tonight.

I may blow him across the street accidentally.

*bbbbbrrrrrrtttttttt*

Sorry.

Things They Don’t Tell You Post Weight-Loss Surgery

Yeah, Yeah…I know, this is a blog about being a cancer patient.

BUT, a big part of my life has to do with the fact that in 2009, I had RNY Gastric Bypass, and as a result, have lost 150 pounds.

It’s actually one of the things that may have triggered my cancer, but all things considered, the weight loss surgery saved my life.  It put my diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease into remission (in fact, the heart disease completely reversed itself).

One of my motivations for weight loss surgery was the fact that I have degenerative cartlidge disease – which means my connective tissues degenerate at a faster rate for no reason at all other than bad luck.  As a result, I have had to have surgery on my right knee once, and on my left knee twice – the 2nd surgery was just last year – post RNY).  I have had dislocated ankles.  I have serious osteoarthritis just about everywhere, including my lower back.

When I was going to the educational meetings I was required to attend prior to my RNY, I was told, “Losing the weight will make you FEEL so much better – it will rid you of joint pain!”  Well, they had me at the diabetes in remission, but that was like the cherry on top of the sugar-free sundae.  I was in.  On it.  Ready to sign up.  I had my psychiatric evaluation, my sleep apnea test, my legs scan (to look for potential blood clots), my chest x-ray, stress test…everything I had to do…and I had my surgery.  And I lost that weight.

And you know what?  My joint pain, well, it never went away.

I spoke to my orthopaedist about it and he said, “well, losing the weight should have helped lessen the stress on your joints.”  And technically it has.  What they don’t tell you about spending the majority of your life morbidly obese?  That once you do lose the weight, your body isn’t prepared for the way your bones fit together anymore.  You joints are loose.  And the arthritis and pain, well, they get worse.

Whatthewhat?

I spoke to my ortho about it and he said, “Naturally, your bypass surgeon isn’t going to tell you that – it’s not a selling point of the surgery.”

Well, butter my biscuit.

And crap.

So, today, I am in horrible pain.  Because having a thyroid condition exacerbates joint pain even more.  And it is a whopping 20 degrees out there today.  So I ache.  I can barely move up and down the steps today.  Seriously.  Ouch.

A little truth in advertising goes a long way.

Hypo and The Plague

I got my thyroid tests back today and I am still way too low, so the doctor increased my dose of synthroid. 

And last night I developed this stupid cough.  I don’t feel too bad, but now my nose is running too, and a low grade headache has developed.  I don’t think I have a fever, but being in menopause is hard to tell with the hot flashes.  I am at work, but will probably take the puter home just in case tomorrow is a no go.  I had my flu shot, but we are snot deep in the middle of a flu outbreak in DE right now, so, yeah.

Thank goodness I made all that soup this weekend.  Sigh.

Done For Another Year and Cancer is a Bitch

I had two procedures last Friday – a balloon endoscopy to look into the section of my stomach that has been sectioned off as a result of gastric bypass, and the intestines that are attached to it and a colonoscopy.  This was all part of my annual screening as a result of my Lynch Syndrome diagnosis.  Both tests came back clear.  Pink and healthy and no evidence of polyps or anything else.  I have  text-book RNY pouch and I’ve been taking care of it – no stretching to my stomach, no indications of ulcers or anything else that can typically occur with bypass patients.  I have been religious about taking my acid reducer every day since surgery – very important for someone who has a pouch of stomach acid that has nothing else to do because it is no longer used to break down food.

I met with my endocrinologist yesterday who confirmed that my glucose levels are much more in line that they were after chemo, but he will still monitor me closely.  As a result of the Graves’ disease, he’s keeping me on a low dose of metformin to help counteract the hormones and aid the metabolism – for now.  He also indicated that since it has only been two weeks since my thyroid treatment, there has been no change.  I don’t go back for 6 weeks.  Until then, he has me on the thyroid diet – which is very similar to the bariatric diet I *should* have been following.  Protein, veggies, fruit, good fats (including cheese and olive oil), and only at meals.  No sauce on my meat, nothing that has added sugar (like fruit juice of any kind), only the items listed above.  I was subbing butternut squash and pumpkin for starches, but he said no to those.  Nothing to drink but water, club soda, black coffee or tea that I make myself (with nothing added – no herbal tea because it may have sugar on the leaves).  The reasoning is, when my thyroid bottoms out, my metabolism won’t work without added hormones and it can take up to year to get the dosing correct.  I will need to stick to this eating plan for life so my weight doesn’t swing back up and my glucose levels remain healthy.

He also indicated that more than likely, I’ll be able to come off the heart pills I have been taking every day since my heart attack in ’03.  I take a small dose of a beta blocker.  I think my cardiologist might disagree, but we’ll see.

The endocrinologist also said I will feel really shitty in a couple of weeks.

Bring it.

In other news, I have a friend who was one of my best friends in high school.  He has a son who is 13.  Over the summer, his son started to have some leg pain.  When they got it checked out, the found a cyst in his thigh bone that had nearly eaten its way through.  Osteoscarcoma.  The son (who I will call Jason to protect privacy) has been undergoing treatments at one of the top children’s’ hospitals on the East Coast – AI Dupont children’s’ Hospital.  (So good, Jen Arnold and Bill Klein – the Little Couple – have taken their children their for treatment).  He has had some chemo and it has been rough, not only on Jason, but on his dad Mike (name also changed).  Last month, Jason lost his hair because of the chemo, so I knitted him a chemo cap of soft purple yarn (his favorite color).  This past weekend, Mike and his ex-wife had to tell Jason that he was going to lose his leg at the hip.  How in the hell do you tell your 13-year-old that on top of everything he’s going through, he’s going to lose his leg as well?  I mean, you and I, as adults, can reason and say, “Hey, better my leg than my life,” but how do you reason that to a 13-year-old, a few weeks before his birthday?

My heart is aching.

I’m making Jason a purple blanket to take with him to the hospital.  Because I can’t fix the cancer.  I can just smother it in love.

Sigh.  Fuck you cancer.  You should pick on us adults, who can reason and fight you – leave the kids alone.

Prayers most graciously accepted for Jason and his family.