Saturday, December 12, 2015
Friday, December 4, 2015
Monday I had a hiccup. I was sitting in the coffee shop around the corner, ready to grade papers. I had enjoyed a croissant and was starting on my coffee when I was hit with a wave a nausea. I got hot an clammy and I was worried that I was going to faint so I quickly packed up and walked the block back home. Charlie was working from home and thankfully so.
I didn't faint, but I went on to be wracked with stomach pain all day. Now, this has happened from time to time. I always thought it was just a byproduct of tiny tummy. I was really good at not overfilling my sleeve, but some foods didn't agree with my body. I would have to eliminate and then I felt better.
I made it through the day Monday and I was feeling better by Monday night. Tuesday was ok.
Wednesday I went back to work. Vocally I was doing ok. Horse, but ok. I taught 2 and 3rd period and it went well. Then I had a break before advisory. By the time advisory rolled around at 1:40 I was in so much pain I was in a cold sweat and was struggling to just sit at a desk. Thankfully the kids just came in and did what they needed to do. I signed out early and made a last minute appointment with my primary.
It was difficult to get to the Dr. It was a long ride to Brooklyn. I told Dr. C., who I really like, about the symptoms I had been experiencing and she did a quick exam. Pressing around, she told me she thought I might have gallstones. She sent me over to her ultrasound tech (who was having a really bad day). She did the exam and then I went back to wait for the results. Dr. C said there are 5 gallstones and an infection.
Next steps: 2 different antibiotics 3x a day for 7 days. And a referral for surgery. Yes, another surgery.
I had a pretty legit melt down on the corner of Willoughby and Jay St. in downtown Brooklyn after I left her office. The nice thing about crying in NYC is that no one is phased and everyone has done it. The prospect of another surgery so soon is overwhelming. My body needs a break.
I am home again today, Friday, after a REALLY rough night. I made the mistake of eating solid food yesterday and paid for it. I am on liquids/soft food (think yogurt) until this infection is cleared up (this is of my own design). I am trying not to be frustrated or disappointed, but I admit, it is challenging. In light of everything that is going on in the world- this seems small. It's my journey though and a truly ponderous one at that.
I am grateful to Charlie and Rose for taking such good care of me. It's the little things.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Thursday, November 26, 2015
It's been a long two years. Yesterday marked two years since my weight loss surgery. It did in fact prove to be a good day for surgery. I was thankful to have a note from the wonderful Mimi that she had the same surgery which put me a bit at ease. I felt calm as we drove into Ear and Eye Infirmary of Mount Sinai . Check in was smooth, to the 7th floor that was quiet the day before a major holiday. I had a room looking down onto 14th Street to myself and that Charlie to wait in while I was in surgery. Being awake through the 2+ hour procedure was one of the stranger experiences I have had. The rational knowing of what was going on while being medicated enough to remain calm and not feel any pain. The scope down the nose is always the worst part- and today was not exception. It was draped in a plastic tent that was stuck to my chin and as a result it was a bit of a steaming for me and got warm. Very strange.
One of the most fascinating parts was the fine tuning of the implant and being able to hear the difference between it being in and out and being able to hear for myself that it was going to help. It will be about 6 weeks before all the healing is done, but I am hopeful that I wont have to think about my voice agin and that Karaoke will come back to my life soon!
We have a 10 AM appointment this morning to have the drain removed from my neck that you can see in the picture above. Lots of meds to help with the recovery. Then home to enjoy Thanksgiving with Charlie and Rose.
Thank you to everyone who called, wrote, texted. Having so many people spread out all across the country, it can be difficult to stay connected, but I appreciate Facebook and the ease it provides for keeping everyone posted on progress. Have a very Happy Thanksgiving.
Mer, Charlie and Rose
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
I am also one week from my vocal cord surgery. It will be happing on 11/25, the two year anniversary. I take it as a good omen. Weight loss surgery was so good for me, hopefully this will be the last step in anything having to do with my throat. Surgery is about 2+ hours and I may get to go home, but there is a chance I will have to stay over night. Also might have a drain. Will have a new 4cm scar above the one I already have. 2 neck scars? Could anyone be more badass than that? I don't think so.
Love and hugs to all and send lots of good thoughts on the 25th.
Saturday, October 3, 2015
I had a training session on Thursday afterwork that as usually kicked my butt. I was lamenting that I had not taken measurements at the beginning of the summer but dug out my pre-op and took measurements today.
Neck (inches): 19
Waist (Inches) : 57.5
Hip (inches): 66.5
Neck: 14 (-5 inches)
Waist: 36 (natural) (-21.5 inches)
Hip: 46 (-20.5 inches)
Total inches lost: 47
Total Pounds lost: 165
As I close in on the 2 year marker (11/25) I had hoped to be closer to One-derland by the end of November, but I just do see it happening. I dropped 20 this summer and have built a ton of muscle, so I am not worrying about it. I feel good. I keep telling people, I feel strong. :-)
I have set a new goal. I have decided to get a relay team together to do Rock The Ridge 50 Mile Endurance Challenge at the end of April. It's for charity, but I thought what better way to mark a year since cancer diagnosis and treatment and hopefully reaching One-derland! My goal is 10 miles and with the help of amazing trainer Adrian, I will be ready.
Just under 7 months and counting!!!
Saturday, September 5, 2015
|Our view from the top!|
|Mer and Lawrence!|
Monday, August 31, 2015
|Sarah, Me and Amanda - Sleeve Sisters 11/25/13|
|Adrian- I frequently drop the F-Bomb when I am working with him. He is nice and doesn't mind.|
|For reference- August 2014|
Monday, July 13, 2015
Thursday, June 25, 2015
When I was finally able to touch the sandy ground, I felt reality return as I hoisted my body
above the water line and slowly walked to the shore. My body was once again a burden to
support as the womb of water released me back into the world.
Saturday, June 6, 2015
I had to put my conflict into 2-3 sentences to begin this weeks homework. This is what I came up with:
I exhausted every resource I had and made the decision to have bariatric surgery in November 2013. 150 lbs and 14 month later I discovered a fist size tumor in my neck. The tumor was benign but the nodules in my thyroid were not.
The next prompt was to write about what is at stake. I started with Charlie. Ultimately, it always comes back to us. Challenges teach us who we are, what is important and who is, for that matter. As I write, my hope is that I confront and explore.
Saturday, May 2, 2015
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
As you know, post thyroidectomy I had paralysis of the right vocal cord. The first thing to try is injection of collagen into the vocal cord to plump it up so that it is working correctly and if I understand, the research has shown that this procedure promotes blood flow to the areas which stimulates the nerve and hopefully resolve any paralysis that has occurred.
I won't lie. This is not the easiest procedure I have ever had done, but it is fast. The worst part for me is the camera down the nose. Apparently I have small passages and they were not able to use the camera they wanted to and had to go with a smaller one. It uncomfortable and this is my 4th time in 3 months. But, it starts with numbing agent #1. Followed by more numbing via injection through the neck (not down the throat). Dr. Pitman watches on the screen while doing the first of the two injections. The numbing part was probably the most uncomfortable, besides the camera, and took the longest. Then once numb the collagen is injected into the vocal cord. It is over filled to begin with until the collagen begins to break down and currently I sound like Kathleen Turner with a scratchy throat. It's silly.
Hopefully this will do the trick. Follow-up in three weeks. In the mean time, popsicles for dinner.
Friday, April 10, 2015
There were 4 instances of cancer that were each less than one cm, called "micro cancer", two one each side on my thyroid. Because of this, the Endo believes that RAI treatment is necessary. RAI also called Radioactive Iodine Ablation treatment is relatively easy, and I use the term loosely. Here is some info on RAI (if you don't want to know skip over the blue text):
Radioactive Iodine Ablation Treatment for Differentiated Thyroid Cancer
This week also go for full body scan for thyroid cells.
Saturday, March 28, 2015
|In pre-op waiting to go in.|
The surgery, intended to take 90 minutes took three hours. The mass in my neck, now being referred to as a tumor, was larger than my fist (bigger than a baseball). The surgical report is meticulous, chronicling each movement of each part of my anatomy as Lagmay worked carefully to remove it from my neck. In addition to the tumor, my thyroid was successfully removed and I later found out all the parathyroids were saved (they control how your body uses calcium).
The morning of my surgery, we arrived EARLY for a 5:15 AM check in at the hospital. Mom stayed with me while Charlie went back to his office (also at the hospital) to get some work done.
When I woke up in recovery I could not talk and there was a drain in my neck. I was scared because I could see the clock and knew the surgery had taken longer than anticipated. Lagmay came in not long after and told me that everything was going well. WE were going to have to wait and see how I was doing as the day progressed- tolerating liquids and seeing how much blood was being collected in the bulb of the drain. Below, post op, finally in my room.
I ended up spending that first night in the hospital and went home Thursday morning. It was a long night but thankfully little to no pain. I was alone in the room most of the night until about 5 when they brought in a women who snored like crazy and that was the end of my sleeping. I was cleared to go home because my calcium levels were good and I was back at home by noon.
It was a little shocking to see how big the incision was. We had gone to the drug store on the way home Thursday and I asked her to look and see how big the wound was- I could see the shock on her face, her eyes got big, reacting to how big it was. We were looking for waterproof bandages for showering...The picture here is before the bruising really started and the stitches are still in.
The attending ER Doc ran blood tests and in fact my calcium and magnesium were both extremely low (hypocalcemia). When the thyroid is removed the para-thyroids go into shock and struggle to absorb calcium into the body. Calcium supports nerve and muscle function. The Doc also did a test that you can see in the video. It is a physical response that indicates low calcium with out doing a blood test called Trousseau Sign. It was fascinating to see my hand curl up. When I had signed into the ER, I had not been able to hold a pen in my hand and write- I knew something was really wrong.
The Sunday was better. Mom and I watched movies, walked to the grocery store to stock up on dairy products. I wish she could have stayed longer but we were to thankful to have here her to help and support. Monday was full on binge watching The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. It was a good day I was feeling stronger and not pins and needles.
Wednesday, I went to see Lagmay for a check up. I knew the pathology was back and was awaiting the news. It could have gone one of two ways: radiation or not. Lagmay apologized for the complications I had experienced. He was surprised that I had been hypocalcemic. He took my stitches out and replaced them with steri-strips. He also checked my vocal cords. I have some paralysis on the right side. I have a appointment coming up over spring break to see a ENT who specializes in vocal cord damage and I will be going to see a speech therapist to help regain the strength in my voice. It will take time. It could be a long time but I feel stronger each day. I'll also be seeing the new Endocrinologist over break as well. I have felt ok on the thyroid meds but I am anxious to speak with her about ongoing care and how it may impact my weight.
Rebecca and the PTA both gave me beautiful flowers that smell amazing and have been on my desk all week. The outpouring of support and encouragement at work has been humbling. Colleagues have checked in, kept an eye on my through out the week and loved the fact that I am teaching with a cordless mic. (I have no vocal power and could not yell if I wanted to!)
I continue to heal. The vocal rest today has been good. We are going out for the first time with good friends tonight. It is nice to be getting back to normal. Thank you to everyone who has texted, emailed and check on me the last two and a half weeks. This is a roller coaster but I am thankful for the great care on all fronts I have received and look forward to a full recovery as the weeks and months pass.
|First day back at work, trusty scarf.|
Saturday, February 28, 2015
I was diagnosed with Thyca (thyroid cancer) 5 weeks after a family friend, who is about my age was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is currently doing chemo and is amazingly graceful in her journey.
When I was first diagnosed with thyca people would say to me, well if you have to have cancer, it's the best one to have. I am just short of one month into my journey and let me tell you, there is no "best kind" or "the good cancer". It's cancer. It is not good, no matter what. With everything, there is variation of severity. Thyca, is treated in its own way, having its own side effects and impact. I won't have to do chemo because of how thyca developes in the body and spreads within the body. There are many what-ifs that I am trying not to occupy. I am avoiding all the stories out there about cancer spreading, side effects of the radioiodine, long term pain, med management and misinformation in the medical community resulting in a ton of pain and suffering for many. my greatest fear is weight gain for clear and understandable reasons. I hope that my providers hear all my concerns and work with me to figure out the best treatment for me. I hope that I am spared many of the what-ifs.
In the mean time, I am counting the days while trying to remain grounded in what I do know and not hypotheticals. A co worker told me Friday that she had no idea I was going through this when we would make small talk in the hall. I don't look different but I feel, emotionally, horrible. Guilty that I am struggling and scared even though I have the "good" and "curable" cancer. I should be grateful it's not worse...or inoperable. THIS was not part of the plan.
I reached out to my friend Toni this week to ask if I could come out to see her and her beautiful baby Adam, who was born in the fall. She along with my other two best girls from NYU have all lost parents to cancer. They were among the first round of people I told. I knew they would understand and love without judgment. I felt guilty for having cancer and being the first in our group to be confronted with something like this. I'm only 37.... And I am the oldest of us. New babies, marriages...we should be enjoying all the blessings of.life and friendship and growing through adulthood together. Not. CANCER.
So today, I am on the train heading out to Long Island. I am on the double decker express train that goes all the way to Montauk. I love riding the train. Watching everything go by, the soundtrack of my choosing echoing around my brain. (The music today is the Fifty Shades Soundtrack, which I love. Say what you will about the movie, the music is wonderful.) I can think, reflect, be in the quiet of my own experiences. I can choose how I want to respond. To face the world and all that it throws at me.
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Friday, February 6, 2015
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Part 1. When I was in Seattle over Christmas I developed an infection on the back of my neck. It seemed it was a cyst of some sort. the development of a sinus infection as well landed me in urgent care on New Years Day after returning to NYC.
Part 2. At some point this fall I became aware that there was a lump on the front of my neck. Because I was so heavy for so long it was really after I lost the bulk of my weight that I really became aware that the lump was not bilateral or normal. The infection I had on the back of my neck resolved and I was referred to a general surgeon to consult on removal. Good timing so I decided to ask about the front mass when I was there.
Part 3. Surgeon agreed that the cyst should come out but not before the front of my neck was addressed. He suspected it was a goiter, about 5cm. Wanted me to go to my primary to get checked out. I had an appointment that same day (1/19). Went to primary who did an exam, blood work and sent me to get an ultrasound.
Part 4. I went to get the ultrasound that same day, thankfully for once that there are so many doctor's offices in Bay Ridge. The tech doing the ultrasound said that the mass was solid and it covered the right side of my thyroid.
This was Monday for those keeping track. Friday after having to track down results I was referred for a biopsy. The mass was not something that could just be drained.
I made the appointment for the following Tuesday.
Part 5. Blizzard, that was not. Canceled appointment. Rescheduled for Thursday.
Part 6. Thursday appointment the larger nodule was biopsied however additional nodules were as well. The large one, now estimated at 7cm (equipment for ultrasound only go up to 5cm so it us hard to accurately measure). There are smaller ones on the left side. It was uncomfortable but fast. Preliminary results on the spot: large mass looks ok. Just really big and has been there forever. Smaller nodule is.concerning but could go either was and needed further analysis. So we wait....
Part 7. Monday I finally called the pathologist was asked to call back because he was on a call shortly after my primary called.
Good news: the large nodule is fine, just connective tissue, solid.
Bad news: there is cancer in the smaller nodule. I will need to have at least that side removed and when they go in they will see if my lymphnodes are ok. Need to get a neck surgeon to schedule treatment and removal.
Part 8: I have cancer.
It seems of all the cancers one can have this is the best one. Extremely treatable and NOT something one dies from. This is good. But I still have cancer and I NEVER would have known if I had not lost the weight.
I'm feeling sad and a little... or a lot angry right now. But hopeful. I have so much support and I decided I wanted to write about this here because I have written about EVERYTHING here for the last 14 months and it felt strange to not be processing it here.
Losing weight has now saved my life twice. Still the best decision I ever made.
Part 9. I'm looking for a surgeon. As this new truly ponderous journey developed I will write because this is what feels right. Holding it all in hurts and I know so many people who have followed my journey are always in my corner.
So please keep me and Charlie in your thoughts as we now proceed forward and will conquer cancer.
Sunday, January 4, 2015
Charlie and I were also able to go to Golden Gardens on the Sound the last day and caught this beautiful moment at the park. It was cold and sunny, perfect.
I have been thinking about resolutions and new goals for 2015. 2014 what such a huge year, transformative. This weekend I got a haircut, always a good way to kick off and this morning I cleaned out my closet. I had slowly been clearing out the clothes that are just too big. This morning, I purged the remainder- in one pile: clothes to donate, in the other pile: clothes I love than I want to alter or that I will wear big. I have to admit I was hit with a HUGE wave of anxiety and the though that rushed through my head was, this will be so expensive to replace when I gain the weight back, maybe I should just keep it in a box. Yo-yo mentality. I am letting the clothes go. I will take them to the Salvation Army next weekend and hopefully it will go to good use. Lots of new clothing to replace the old and I look forward to losing the last 50 pounds this year and reaching my personal goal. Even if it takes me a year.
Goals for 2015
1. Drink lots of water.
2. Take my vitamins.
3. Lose my last 50 lbs.
4. Do something for myself once a week that is not food related.
5. Be kind to myself.
Here's to a great new year! Cheers!