Monday, January 16, 2012

Thyroid Cancer (ok so that is not a favorite thing... But watching God thru it has been INCREDIBLE)

For the last 11 years I have had Hashimoto's Disease.  In a nut shell that means my thyroid is hypo or hyper  randomly.  In the past three years I have known something was wrong with my thyroid, however all my TSH tests came back in the normal range.  Two years ago I had an ultra sound on it because it was big.  Big and lumpy and bumpy are normal for Hashimoto's, but they had questions so they finally referred me off  post to see an endocrinologist.

The first doctor and I, didn't see eye to eye, so we fired each other.  The second one spoke so quickly no one could get a word in edge wise, however to be certain he sent me to a third for a biopsy.  They biopsied only the left side and it came back normal. It turns out the right side was the normal side, had they taken a biopsy from the right side they would have known something was wrong.

The second told me if I had any further questions come back.  Then we moved to Ft Leavenworth so sometime about Sept 2011, still knowing something was wrong with my thyroid, I went to my PCM and asked for my TSH to be checked.  She said no problem's all in normal range.  I pushed so she finally said she would ask if there could be a referral.  The referral was granted, so I was sent to Dr. Amanda Bell, number 4 Endocrinologist in less than 2 years.

DR AMANDA BELL!!!!  Praise God, He moved her to KC, 29 Aug 2011.  I do not know who else will be blessed by this Dr's talent but let me tell you she ROCKS!  Dr. Bell had not even touched me and she said by the information in your records there is a 50/50 that you have cancer regardless of the biopsy, your thyroid has reached that magic size.

She still wanted me to have an ultrasound to make sure of the size.  The ultrasound showed it was the same exact size and shape as it had been the year before.  The tech is a sweet precious christian with whom I had a wonderful visit.  Dr Bell still recommended that I have my thyroid removed, so she referred me to a surgeon.

Dr. Rouse,  is the surgeon who removed the thyroid.  Another Dr. who Rocks (Praise God)!  Given a few more months no one will look at my neck and know I had surgery.  I went to see Dr. Rouse for the first time on 23 Nov 2011, the day before Thanksgiving.  While he did not believe it was cancer it was impinging on my swallowing.  So we asked for the soonest surgery date, wondering how it was going to work with Ric's schooling.  The soonest they had was 25 Nov 2011 the Friday after Thanksgiving.  That meant that Ric would not have to miss any school due to surgery(Praise GOD!).  It also meant I didn't have to think about surgery for a long time.

25 Nov 2011 we went to Liberty MO for surgery.  We were in the pre-op area and there was a sign that said "Surgery no admittance" Ric teased I couldn't get in.  As they pushed my bed around the nurses desk they pushed some sort of drug.  I have NO recollection of going thru those doors (Praise GOD!).  I woke sometime around 1300 just long enough for Ric to put my praise music into my ear, and recognize that I had the most wonderful leg massage going on (really not sure why people don't like the air pressure leg cuffs that provided me with the most wonderful 20 hr calf massage).  Then Ric made the first of 3 (about an hr 1 way) trips home to take care of the dogs.  While he was gone I woke and needed my first dose of pain meds... but alas I had no nurse call button to call anyone.  Thankfully Patty heard my cries for help and came to my rescue! (PRAISE GOD!)

A little later I had a visit from Chaplain Lovell and while there he prayed (Praise God!).  Very shortly after that a visit from Chaplain Carrothers and his bride Marinell and they prayed (Praise God!)

About an hr later Ric got back and then we had a sweet visit from COL J.P. and Nickie Silverstein.  Then just before visiting hrs were up Gabe and Jamie showed up and brought dinner for my sweet starving groom (PRAISE GOD!, he gets grouchy without food yikes).

At about 2300 the new nurse Nathan told me I would have to swallow pills for my next pain killer.  I cried, you see I had been gagging on my vitamins because they were to big to swallow, at least they were with a double size thyroid.  He gave me the pill, I would only agree to 1, and I swallowed it... and I could tell there was room to SPARE!  I had been more comfortable breathing and just lying there but that was the moment I realized that this pain was worth it purely from the comfort level. (PRAISE GOD!)

Ric made 2 more 2 hr round trips home to take care of our puppies.  All so he could sleep with me at the hospital.  Such a loving, caring, giving man God graciously allowed to be my husband... PRAISE GOD! And he stopped on his way back the 2nd time and brought me an iced CHAI!  Yummmmmm!

When Dr Rouse came thru on his rounds on Saturday and saw me walking and doing well he removed the drain tube and sent me packing.  But not before a sweet CNA Melissa helped me take a bath to get the ick out of my matted hair. (PRAISE  GOD!)  Come on what girl wants to get in the car with hair matted from surgery.

We got home and had 4 nights before I got the call on Wednesday morning saying it was cancer.  My first reaction was well the first thing they would do for it would be remove it. Check...  I next sent a text to Ric.  I texted my mom, sister, and girls and then posted to FB.  Not to much longer after that I got a call from a good friend from our days in Germany who is now stationed here.  Then Ric was sent home.  It was so sweet... yet kind of funny in my warped mind ... they had already removed the cancer.  God really had given such a sweet peace that surpassed any human understanding.

On the 15th of Dec, I had a follow up appt with Dr. Rouse really he is an artist my scar will be so minimal and since he put it in the crease no one will really realize it is a scar... plus I think he gave me a little neck job... not that I was looking for plastic surgery, but hey if it came as a benefit of this I will take it.  Dr. Rouse also referred me to Dr. Thompson for the next step in the process.

On the 22nd of Dec, was my follow up appt with Dr Bell.  Come to find out for her specialty she basically did a research thesis on my kind of cancer.  She is such a sweet young lady!  A true blessing!

When we got home SURPRISE!  One of our girls showed up a day early!  It was SO good to see Chris!  (PRAISE GOD!)  It had been far to long since we had last seen her beautiful face!

On the 23rd of Dec, I went and saw Dr. Thompson for the first time and his physicist Nick and let me not forget his nurse Kay.   They went over the process of doing the RadioActive Iodine (RAI).  Then we decided the start date, which meant immediately going off T3 meds.  Since there is a world wide shortage of the shot they would have given me instead of having to go off meds.

We had a lovely Christmas!  Delivered donuts and coffee to the gate guards which has become a yearly ritual.  Came home and opened gifts.  Got the bird in the oven.  Three great kids (Soldiers) came from Ft. Riley to spend the day with us.  Thank you Clare, Joe, and Sean.  Went to church in celebration of Christ's birthday.  Came home finished up the meal and ate.

On the 26th I started the low Iodine diet to starve my body of iodine so any remaining thyroid cells would be starving to take in iodine.  The thyroid is the only organ that process iodine and turns it into the thyroid hormone.

On the 29th Chris left for her home in AZ.  :(  We had such a sweet visit.  (PRAISING GOD!) He gave us this time.
A few hrs later we left to visit our friends David and Marti.
Marti loved me in such spectacular ways... she made delicious satisfying food for our 3.5 days there and then sent home the left overs.  Being so tired from no meds (T4), and still not 6 wks after surgery, I was of NO help.  On the 2nd we came home.

On the 6th, I took the blood test to see if my levels were high enough they had to be at least at 30.  On the 9th after much frustration the nurse Kay finally received the lab results.  The level was 68 well above the minimum of 30, the 10th was a go.

That doesn't really sound like it meant that much but the low iodine diet is a kick in the bumm!  Salt is fine as long as it isn't sea salt, soy... well I don't eat it anyhow,  no egg yolks, are you kidding me? No dairy are you trying to kill me or what?  No cheese?  No cream?  HELLO!!!!   Really add that to my already gluten intolerance and things get ugly.

On the 10th of Jan 2012 at about 1400 I took 150 M Ci of RAI.  After a 20 min watch to make sure I didn't have a reaction to it I was sent home.  Instructions stay 6' away from adults, children, dogs etc for 10 days.  So here I am sitting in bed,  my family loves it!  I am in solitary confinement, behind bars at Ft. Leavenworth, KS.

There are many things and people who are not listed here.  That truly have made this much more a blessing.  People who took me to the 2nd endocrinologist so I wouldn't be alone when Ric was deployed.  Friends who have been more acquaintances before, who have established themselves as friends by coming to visit and prayerfully lift me before THE Throne of GRACE daily(HUGS to my friend Alison).  Friends who have made meals, THANK YOU!

God has blessed me in ways I can not even communicate.  But some that I can are; that if Ric had come to ILE the year before as he was "supposed to".  If life hadn't been so hectic in the first few months of being here at Ft. Leavenworth, I would had asked before Dr. Amanda Bell would have been here, she only arrived on the 29th of Aug 2011.  If we had come the year earlier people like the Lovell's, the Batchelor's (friends from Germany years), the Kim's, sweet Lara Fiscus (she helped me so much in Korea when Beaux was so sick I thought he was going to die) wouldn't have even been stationed here.  The Carrother's would have been in a different position and we may not have known them the same.  A year earlier my dear friend Janet hadn't had the touch of God on her that she has had this past year which would have meant she wouldn't have pointed me to the grace of resting in God that has been so pivotal in my peaceful journey.
As a dear friend who used to be my youth leader said... and you thought you were going to Ft. Leavenworth for military stuff... humpt!  You are so right Ellen!
Thanking God for HIS timing.  Thanking God that His timing included such a wonderful group of "OLD friends"!   Praying that I remain in this attitude no matter what tomorrow brings.

4 comments:

mybadfriended said...

It's so great to hear all that God is doing and has done through your situation. Keep your chin up and know that I (and it sounds like MANY others) am praying for you!

vanilla143 said...

Thank you "mybadfriend" !

Unknown said...

WOW! What a beautiful, moving account of God's mercy! Thanks so much for writing all this down! I am praying for you!

vanilla143 said...

Thank you Janice! God has been so merciful and given me so much of HIS grace.