Schedule of events for the week of isolation and treatment
(notes taken by Tammy at my Drs. appointment-She has been my secretary, babysitter, coach and wonderful friend through all this "drama")
November 13th: Meet with nuclear medicine for a consultation.
November 17th (Tuesday) at 10:50 a.m.: Report to Emory Clinic division of Endocrinology for first thyrogen injection.
November 18th (Wednesday) at 10: 50 a.m.: Report to same place as Tuesday. Get second thyrogen injection. Following the injection, go to the Emory Clinic Laboratory on the first floor of building A to have lab work drawn. You need to take the lab sheet and the second sheet they gave you from today (NOV. 13th). Lab work they will do includes the following: preg test, TSH, thyroglobulin, thyroglobulin antibodies and BETA HCG.
12:30 p.m. Go to the Department of Nuclear Medicine for the I-123 dose. This is put into your body for the next day so they can see where it settles…hopefully just in your neck.
Go to hotel Wednesday night. Make sure your room is set up for what you need. Make sure you have snacks, drinks, and food that you can eat. Make sure you have everything you need laid out for the following day because it will be a long day and very early. Eat something that night because you will be fasting the next day. You and Nick go up to the hospital.
November 19th (Thursday) at 8:00 a.m.: You cannot eat four hours prior to this appointment. Go to the hospital for the I-123 scan. This will tell them where it is settling and how much of a dosage you need. Therapy follows at 9 a.m. The doctor you saw Nov. 13th suggested 150 regardless. You cannot eat two hours after this treatment to ensure it does what it needs to! You go back to hotel and rest. You may feel nausea from diet, stress, having salt when you haven’t had it for so long.
November 20th (Friday): Doctor suggested you stay in hotel three days AFTER treatment…that is until SUNDAY! You can go home three days after your treatment BUT you still have to use one bathroom no one else uses, sleep alone, wash everything you touch, wash everything separate from the families, use disposable utensils.
November 22nd (Sunday): You return home.
November 24th kids return home: You can't hold girls for prolonged time or contact…no shared drinks, utensils, etc. until the 30th.
November 26th Thanksgiving Day! Stay on your diet…no exceptions…it helps the RI not get confused and focus on what it needs to get!
November 30th (Monday) at 8 a.m.: Return to Nuclear Med Dpt. For your body scan. This will tell you if it did its job.
I don't know if you can see close up in this picture. I'll try to upload a closer picture later, but if you look at my neck you will see the bump where my tumor was. It's amazing that we didn't notice it sooner! Now, everytime I look at someone, I check and make sure they don't have a mass on there thyroid. If they do, I encourage them to be PROACTIVE. You just never know...
Looking back on this past week feels almost like stepping out of a time machine. I feel like my life has been put on pause and I am just now getting a chance to look back, reflect, and let these events that just changed my life forever, finally sink in. It feels amazing to know that I have had the support and love of so many friends and family around me. The word that keeps popping into my head is miracle. When the surgeons came to my room to check on me after surgery, they explained how they had to move all the parts of my throat around to get the tumor out. One surgeon actually said that he held my voice box in his hands...that's an amazing miracle to me. Another dr. explained that they removed my parathyroids from my thyroid, there are four and they are as small as grains of rice and they are still there attaching to my throat, trying to function and get out of shock! That's how I feel right now too! Still in shock and amazed at how God's hands were covering me with his grace, filling me with peace and comfort in the midst of this trial.
I have been reading an awesome devotional every morning since all of this starting happening. The book is called Jesus Calling, written by Sarah Young. My one for October 14th (the day of my surgery) was perfect..and I quote "Be prepared to suffer for Me, in my name. When suffering strikes, remember that I am sovereign and that I can bring good out of everything. Do not try to run from pain or hide from problems. Instead accept adversity in My Name, offering it up to Me for My purposes. Thus, your suffering gains meaning and draws you closer to Me. Joy emerges from the ashes of adversity through your trust and thankfulness." I am happy to say that I have experienced a whole new level of God's perfect peace through all of this. I am still recoving and dealing with the pain, but I know that God's promises are new every morning!
I just wanted to write a quick update. I saw Brooke yesterday, and she looks great! She was in good spirits, and Nick was taking the kiddos to South Georgia to visit with family...so it was going to be Brooke and her mama for the weekend. Hopefully, it'll give her lots of rest! She ate a little and drank sweet tea. I tried to bribe her with Chick-fil-a, but I think it's still difficult to eat. She said she isn't in much pain as long as she is taking her pain meds. She woke up early in the morning, and said it really hurt and hurt to talk because she had missed a dose over the night. She has a small spot on her throat where the incision was...and she said her jaws are really sore from the breathing tube. I think they had her mouth opened throughout the surgery, and she has TMJ. Other than that, she seemed incredible!
She has help until Wednesday, and then I think she will be on her own...with the girls. I know we'll all be on call if she needs help! We just all need to keep reminding her that!:) She has pictures from after the surgery...she doesn't rememeber taking them! I keep telling her to post them!:) They're cute and entertaining! Her next dr. appointment is on the 29th.
I talked to Brooke last night and today...and she sounds WONDERFUL! She is in good spirits and ready to go home. I don't think anybody can relax in a hospital. Last night, they gave her morphine and perkiset?-Your guess is as good as mine on how to spell that! So, needless to say, they were trying to make her comfortable. I think she said that she had gotten sick a few times, it hurt to talk, and just generally I think she felt pretty rough.
This morning, she said that she had walked around, drank some juice and water, and still felt drained when she talked. Her calcium levels were a little off so they did more bloodwork and wanted to monitor her a little more before they let her go home. The calcium has something to do with the thyroid...she can better explain that sometime later. She was originally suppose to be discharged about eleven...so, I think she is very, very ready to go! It sounds like it will probably be more this afternoon before she leaves. She said the doctor told her this morning that they were glad to hear her talking (it sounds like she has a sore throat when she talks right now) because they literally had her vocal chords and voice box in their hands at one point. The dr. said they tried to be very careful, but they literally had to take it all out and put it back in because the mass was pretty large and all around everything else.
Anyway, she sounds really good. Her mom sounds great too and is managing the home front right now. She said the girls were doing well, and she was on the way to get Laney from school. So, hopefully, Brooke can get some rest and lots of TLC when she gets home. It sounds like her body is going to recover slowly but her mind is running circles...we'll all have to make sure she slows down for a while and give her mind and body time to catch up with each other!
Brooke's mom called a while ago and said they all got to see her. She seems very relieved that the surgery is over. However, she is in lot of pain. Our Brooke is tough with a very high tolerance of pain...so if she's hurting...it must be seriously hurting! Hopefully, when she gets in a room, they'll give her some additional pain medicine. It sounds like they are still letting her come completely out of recovery before they do anything additional than what's in her IV. Her mom said that she can't talk quite yet so wrote down several things--her doctors name with a smiley face, cancer's gone, and that she's ready to get out of there! Sounds like Brooke, doesn't it? Her mom also mentioned that the incision on her neck was very small...less than a couple inches. Considering all they did, I think that's amazing! The staff in the post op. room suggested Brooke try get some sleep so her family was letting her rest until they get her placed into a room.
I'll post back if I hear anymore today. By the way, the girls were doing fine and at home with Nick's dad and grandmother.
GREAT NEWS! I just heard from Sarah Beth and Brooke's mom...Dr. Chen met with the family and said she came through the surgery great and is sleeping. It hadn't spread anywhere so I don't believe they had to remove any lymph nodes....so just the mass and the thyroid. Nick didn't get to watch...crossed wires somewhere along the way--I do think they let residences watch since it is a learning university as well as a hospital. She will be in recovery for a while, but what great, wonderful news! Her family will get to see her in about an hour, and I will let you know as soon as they get to see and talk to her! I know everyone's prayers have been felt today by Brooke and her family! ~Tammy
I had the opportunity to talk to the doctor (Dr. Chen) today. She is my surgeon at Emory. I think that she just decided that she needed to call and reassure me! It works for me! Random questions continued to pop in my head throughout the day, and on top of that, I am trying to remember the answers, what to pack, what to do, and of course, chase my two little girls.
She said that I will have a total thryroidectomy...I'm not even sure that's how you spell it, but that means that she is removing my thryroid completely. From what I understand, that involves my thyroid on both sides and in the middle. She is also removing some lymph nodes in my neck for sampling (to check them for cancer). Dr. Chen also said that she will remove anything that looks supsicious, so hopefully just the thyroid, the mass, and the lymph nodes. Personally, I think that's plenty, and I am just hoping that I still have some stuff left when I get out of there!
It sounds kind of scary, but from what I understand, she will make a cut at my lower throat (like where a short necklace would fall on your throat/neck) in order to do the surgery. They are allowing my husband, Nick, to watch the surgery from an observatory room. I bet most husbands can't say they've seen their wives necks or throats cut open. Well, I hope they can't! It'll be an experience to say the least!
Now, the most difficult part for me today has been trying to keep track with the details. The details of surgery; the details of recovery; the details of preparing; the details of making sure my girls are taken care of; the details of getting my house ready; oh, so many details seem to be making my head even more fuzzy.
I did find out some wonderful news...at least for me! I know that after removing my thyroid they will have to put me on a special diet (which involves a life changing experience in and of itself! No preservatives...low sodium...no yummy food basically!). I will also have to take a pill daily. Also, I will have treatment following recovery of the surgery. Back to the wonderful news! I have been savoring anything salty and sweet that I could get my hands on the last few days thinking this was the end of a glorious relationship with these foods. However, after talking to the doctor from what I understood...I can continue my regular diet through recovery, which will be to about the end of October.Bring on the food! Then, when treatment begins and my body begins to recognize the loss of my thyroid, I will have to begin the serious, strict diet for the 4 weeks before my treatment!
So, just to provide you with an update-Tomorrow is my surgery. I have to be at Emory at five am, yikes, that's early...and my surgery will actually begin around 7. I was told it was on the 3rd floor at Emory Hospital. I'm hoping I will just stay up all night and then just crash tomorrow after the surgery. From what I understand, I will be pretty tired for a few days following surgery. The surgery should take a few hours. Then, of course, 2-3 hours of recovery time before I am placed in a room. I'll be released Thursday.
After being completely covered in prayer by my sweet friends, I am reminded of how peace surrounds us when our focus is on God and not ourselves. This is the beginning of a whole new chapter of life, an ongoing journey of God drawing me closer to Himself. Thank you for being a part of this journey with me!
That's all that I can think of for now. Check back to see further updates...my mom, sister, and friend Tammy will be keeping it updated for me over the next few days. Thanks again to everyone for your prayers and support. Feel free to leave comments, I'm looking forward to reading them, blogging is new to me!
I can't believe that I am already down to just days away from my surgery. I think that in a way it may be a blessing that things have moved so quickly. It has given me less time to worry and to try to take control of the situation. With it moving so fast, God has had to take control because I'm still catching my breath.
For now, I just want to write a quick update.
1st-I am so blessed to have so many people send their thoughts and prayers to me, and I have not been able to keep up with returning phone calls and updates! So, that is my goal through this blog is to be able to send an update so you know that you are close to us! Technology is wonderful, but between trying to keep contact with everyone through phones, emails, facebook, and everything else I can't seem to keep up with it all...so hopefully this will help! Let me warn you, this blog will have it all...the good, the bad, and the ugly...hopefully, more good than anything else. In all things though, you have to go through it all to make it to the end. With God's help, I know this is God's hand guiding me and my family.
2nd- Sometimes it may be a quick update and sometimes it may be long and sometimes it may be complete random ramblings! Just bear with me. I'm learning as I go.
3rd-I will be reading all your comments. So, please feel free to comment.
4th-You may see other people update or write on my blog. I know that life may get busy, especially over the next few weeks, so I have a few people helping keep the blog updated- My mom, Joan; my sister, Sarah Beth; my friend, Tammy; and Nick, my husband. I'm sure after this experience, it will be quite a testimony to go back and have all of this journey written down. I hope to look back one day...with this journey far behind me...and think, "It was tough, but I did it!"
5th-surgery is set at EMORY for Wednesday, October 14, 2009. I am suppose to be there at five am.
Tomorrow, I'll write more about what the surgery is going to involve specifically.
I hope this blog provides an opportunity to stay in touch with me and my family as we go through this journey. It's all been an overwhelming experience even though we are just at the beginning. I was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer or more specifically, papillary cancer. My goal is to keep the blog updated so that our friends and family can follow us as we progress over the next few months. I have several people that will be helping to keep the blog updated with what's going on especially on days that I am not up to it. I feel so blessed to have so many people that have sent their love and prayers. Please know that I feel them all and keep them close to my heart. God is teaching me each day that He is sovereign and has ultimate control of our lives...to everything is to His glory.