Radioactive Mama

My Cancer Journey

What’s it like? Thursday, 18 Sep 14

Filed under: Uncategorized — radioactivemama @ 10:36 am

People have asked me many times over the years what the thyroid does (something I didn’t know until they took mine!) and what it’s like not having one.  Well, the thyroid controls EVERYTHING in your body pretty much.  It’s a giant regulator.  So almost every part of your body and life are affected when it’s out of whack or not there and the artificial replacement is not regulated properly.  After the initial 6-8 months it took to get mine regulated in 2010 I have been pretty blessed that over the last 3 1/2 years its only gotten out of whack a few times.  It’s out of whack now.  So let me tell you what it’s like.  It’s like this:

You spend an 8 hour day out with your kids.  A day doing some walking, a little bit of sun, busy but not anything crazy like running 20 miles or hiking  Clingman’s Dome.  A day that at the end of it, most people would probably be kind of tired and sleep pretty good.  However, at the end of it with no thyroid and improper medication then by 8:30 you can barely keep your eyes open to get all the kids in bed and by 9:30 you fall into bed exhausted, sleep 10.5 hours and find it incredibly hard to get out of bed the next morning.  When you do finally get up all your joints hurt, you have a headache for the 4th day in a row and it takes all your energy to even get into the day.  By 10:30am you are wondering if you can nap, lol.  It’s tiring being so tired.  It’s discouraging.  And it is a vivid reminder of what I have been through.  Which also reminds me of God’s faithfulness and all He has brought us through and the ways He has provided.  So while I’m feeling some self-pity and sometimes want to cry and always want to sleep (:D) and am reminded of how much cancer sucks, even the “best kind of cancer to have,” I am also reminded that today my job is to put one foot in front of the other and trust that His grace is sufficient for TODAY.  That’s all I have to do, TODAY. Sometimes I have to say to myself, “just get the dishwasher loaded, just get that one load of clothes folded, just get through math with the girls” and sometimes, like yesterday, I am granted a reprieve from the headaches and pain and for a short little while I don’t feel exhausted and enjoy the moments immensely with my children and those moments are SO great!  Hoping and praying my (lack of) thyroid gets regulated REALLY soon and that the increased meds do their job quickly and that life can get back to some level of normal.

So that’s what it’s like 🙂   Now, when do these kids go to sleep?!  LOL

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From the beginning… part 3 Saturday, 5 Jun 10

Filed under: Uncategorized — radioactivemama @ 1:41 pm

December 17th … We got up early on the morning of the 17th and headed back to the hospital for my second surgery.  This time we knew pretty much what to expect, which seemed to make it somewhat easier and somewhat harder.  We checked in and went to day surgery where I again donned the necessary hospital clothing – way too big hospital gown, these weird mesh underwear, and gray slipper socks in one size fits all, with grippers on top AND bottom.  My Mom says this is so you can wear them either way, and it is supposed to make it easier for people.  However it really annoyed the heck out of me having grippers on the tops of my feet.  Anyway, I finish getting changed, get everything all packed up for the staff to lock up, and say goodbye to my family.  (Princess was with Aunt Maryann.)  The guy comes in to wheel me away, and I remember him from 2 days before.  He was the one who brought me my glasses while I was in recovery.  Did I tell you that he looks SO much like the guy who plays “Chuck”? (on the tv show, ” Chuck” 😉  It turns out that after me telling him on Tuesday that he looked like Chuck, he went home and googled Chuck, lol.  He said that he looks at his face in the mirror everyday, so it is hard for him to see the resemblance.

As we are about to leave a blonde haired lady sticks her head in and says something like, “are you Princess’mom?  The one who had surgery 2 days ago?”  I am confused by this.  I don’t have my glasses on so I dig them out of my bag and when I look at her, I am still confused.  I know she looks familiar… she tells me that her name is Amber and she was the one dressed as Mrs. Claus a few days before.  Oh!  I recognize her now… but am still so confused as to what she is doing there.  She asks if Princess is with us and I tell her, “no.”  So she comes in to my room (which has one real wall and 3 curtain walls and is not much bigger than the handicapped bathrooms at Wal-mart!  She proceeds to tell me how she was so touched by Princess , and her amazing hug and her sweet spirit, that she went to the store when she got off of work on Tuesday night and bought Princess just what she asked for – a black monkey and a red dress.  The dress was beautiful with sparkles all over it!  The monkey was holding a baby (and of course Princess decided the monekys were her and her baby sister.)  Amber also had a brown stuffed monkey for Bug.  One of the nurses had told her we had a baby with us.  Amber had no idea how old she was or if it was a boy or a girl.  Amber also got Princess black patent leather shoes and a beautiful pink and black outfit with a matching black and white spotted fur coat with big pink bow and rhinestone buttons.  Both outfits were both so Princess like!  Amber had no idea how old Princess was or what size she wore, so she went up to someone in the store and said, “what size do you think a little girl this tall would wear?” And held up her hand to show Princess’ height.  She was told 3T – which was exactly right!  Amber told us that she knew what it was like to be in the hospital at Christmas time and what it was like to have family in the hospital at Christmas time, and wanted to do whatever she could to make it special for us and for Princess.  I was so overwhelmed by the generosity of this complete stranger!  Amber then asked if there was anything she could do for us.  It wasn’t like a half hearted, “do you need anything?” kind of question.  It was a deep, heartfelt, “if you need me to go to the store and buy you groceries and bring them to your house I will” kind of question.  Looking into her eyes I knew that she meant it and I could ask for anything and if it was within her power she would do it.  I was again amazed at the way this woman was reaching out to my family and was obviously already so deeply connected to us without even really knowing us… all because of the sweet spirit of my amazing little 3 year old.  God has given her such an amazing gift for loving others, and in this whole process I have seen it unfold in believable ways and have seen her touch more people than  I would have ever thought possible at such a young age.

Amber left and I went off to surgery.  Josh, Bug, and my Mom went to the waiting room once again.  They took good care of me in pre-op.  The initial medicine they gave me to make me relax did not seem to work as fast or as strong as the first time, so I remember more leading up to the second surgery than the first.  The best thing about the wait was when they brought this blanket that was kind of like felt on the inside and aluminum foil on the outside and then they plugged it into a blow dryer type contraption that kepe me nice and toasty warm.  The nurse and doctors in pre-op were great and soon it was time to go to the OR.  I don’t remember going into the OR first time, but the second time I do.  I even helped scoot myself from the hospital bed on to the small, hard, cold operating table.  I also remember the bright lights and them strapping me down to the table.  They say I helped scoot myself the first time too, but I have no recollection of this at all, lol.  The surgery went well, as expected and soon I was back in recovery.

Amazingly, I had the same wonderful recovery nurse as after my first surgery.  I asked her (in my barely audible whisper) where her radio was.  (During recovery the first time she had Christmas music playing behind me.) It was at a station a few beds down from mine.  She went and got it for me and put it behind my head.  I listened to Christmas music again as I lay there in an out of sleep.  Diane was even more amazing this time than the first.  She spoon fed me ice chips (my mouth and throat were so dry from the oxygen tube they stick down there, but I was too weak to drink.)  She held a bowl to my mouth every time I thought I was going to be sick (thankfully I never did, just felt very nauseous.)  She wiped my face and neck with a cool washcloth and gave me sips of water once I was able to manage them.  It was like having my Mom there with me.  When I told my Mom about Diane later she was amazed.  She said the job of the recovery nurse is to make sure you are stable, and somewhat comfortable if she has the time.  Diane went above and beyond and was so attentive.  Every time I would call for her (barely above a whisper) she would somehow hear me and lean over close to me so she could hear me.  She also again had someone bring my glasses.  I didn’t remember asking for them this time, so I thought she just remembered that I needed them.  She told me I did ask for them though.  She also gave me pain medicine as soon as I asked for it.   I made it to a room much faster this time.  I was even there before Josh and my Mom, but they arrived just after I did.  I had different nurses this time, but Kofi & Nokiah stuck their heads in to say hello.

So ends the second surgery and the start of my surgery recovery…

 

11 days home… Wednesday, 14 Apr 10

Filed under: Uncategorized — radioactivemama @ 11:53 pm

Hello all!  I have been home for 11 days now and it has gone SO fast!  I got home Saturday night the day before Easter.  Josh picked me up around 6:30pm and we went and got Princess an Easter basket and stuff to fill it and then we went out to dinner.  It was so nice to be in a restaurant with my husband and feel somewhat normal.  I got really spicy food so that I would be able to taste it some.  Needless to say I didn’t enjoy the food as much as the company.

We got home around 9 or so.  My Mom was there waiting for us of course.  It was so good to see her and thank her in person for all she did for me and my family and to give her a gigantic hug.  Then I went in to see Princess. (Josh told her I was coming home and would come in and tell her goodnight.  I crawled up in her bed (its a twin bed) and stroked her hair and talked to her and gave her a kiss, but she never woke up.  It was so good to see her sleeping little body all curled up in her bed.  Of course I also peeked in on Bug, but made it quick so that she wouldn’t wake up.

The next morning I heard Princess’ bedroom door open, and when she came in to our room, I sat up and waved at her.  She let the cat in when she opened our door and Josh was saying, “No!” to Pumpkin (the cat.)  I don’t know if it was in reaction to that or if she was just so surprised to see me, but Princess just looked at me and then walked out.  I went out into the hall and she stood there and looked at me for a second.  Then I said, “who am I?” And she said, “Mommy…” and then got a big smile on her face and ran and gave me the biggest hug.  Then we sat on the couch and cuddled and talked and laughed and hugged.  It was wonderful!  When Bug woke up I went in and got her and at first she didn’t even look at me.  I started talking to her and laid her down to change her and she got the biggest ear-to-ear grin on her face.  It too was wonderful.

I spent a lot of time with the girls on Easter morning.  Then we all got ready and headed to church at The Summit.  It seemed like no one knew I was coming, so that was super exciting.  When I tapped my friend, Jill, on the shoulder and she turned around and saw it was me she looked REALLY excited and started looking for a way to get to me.  (She was 2 rows in front of me.” I was in a skirt but she was in capris, and promptly climbed over the row of seats to give me a giant hug.  I got similar, super excited, big hug reactions from all of my girls (women that are in my small group Bible study.)  It was a great day to be with my family – both my immediate family and my church family.

Princess said at home she didn’t want to go to children’s church, which was more than fine with us.  Then when we got there she said she did, but when I tried to take her she changed her mind again.  We took her in church with us and after about 10 minutes or so she said she was ready to go to children’s church.  I told her that if she went she needed to stay and she said she would.  Once we got over there she again wanted to leave.  I sat down on the floor with her for a few minutes and I told her, “I am not going anywhere.  I will just be in big church and as soon as it is over I will be right back to get you.”  That was all it took.  I went back to church and she was fine. 🙂

We went home and cooked Easter dinner – nothing complicated or involved, but still pretty yummy (or so my Mom and Josh said since I couldn’t taste much.)  Then we dyed Easter eggs and played all afternoon.  Princess found her Easter basket the Easter Bunny left her and we went outside and blew some super cool bubbles.  It was a great day!

The time since then has been a whirlwind… I will be happy to share more later, but at least this gets the details of my reunion and first day home out there.

We are so thankful for all of you, and Josh and I talk often about all the people who carried us through those two weeks.  I am so blessed to have you in my life, and so honored that you care enough to read my thoughts and walk this journey with me.  I will do my best to post at least once every other day or so, but can’t make any guarantees. 🙂

Good night!

 

My last post from the fellowship house Saturday, 3 Apr 10

Filed under: Uncategorized — radioactivemama @ 5:17 pm

Josh should be here in about 2 hours.  I can’t wait! Princess is at the Easter Extravaganza with Aunt Hannah and Miss E, so she should be pretty tired when she gets home, which will mean an early bedtime.  That way she should be sound asleep by the time we get home. As an added precaution for the girls and for Josh against any possibility of absorbing any radioactive iodine left in my body, their tummies now have a palm sized orange stain from where they were rubbed with beta dine. This is the yucky orangish brown stuff they use to prep patients for surgery.  It is used as a disinfectant.  The iodine that is in it will be absorbed by Josh, Princess and Bug’s thyroids.  Essentially what we are doing is filling their thyroids to the brim with good iodine so that if they happen to absorb any of my iodine (which is a low possibility at this point anyway) their thyroids will be too full to take it and it will simply be flushed out of their bodies.  The radiologist recommended this as a safe way to be extra careful with the thyroids of my wonderful little family. Princess still doesn’t know that I am coming home tonight.  I am praying that tonight is a night that she sleeps good ALL night long – no potty breaks, no bad dreams, no interruptions.  If she does wake up and find out I am there, I don’t think we will ever get her back to sleep!  I wonder myself if I will be able to sleep with the excitement of seeing my Princesses.  I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas morning or my first trip to Disney World!  I am just so incredibly grateful for the family that God has given me, and for the joy in knowing I have done all I can to get healthy for them and that God has brought me through to the other side to continue to have my family to love and care for. I am also delighted beyond words that days 14 and 15, initially intended to be spent here, will actually be spent with my family.  I had originally anticipated tomorrow to be the loneliest Easter I had ever spent.  Now it will probably be the most celebratory. I just cannot imagine a better day to wake up in the arms of the ones I love than Resurrection day.  This most important day in the life of the church is now an important day in the life of our family as well.  🙂

I will continue to post, filling in more of the back story leading up to this whole treatment and telling you of my reunion with my family and any other events that occur in my process of being declared cancer free. 🙂

Your intense, fervent, and faithful prayers for me and my family for the last 13 days are not only appreciated, but seen as one of the most vital pieces in my getting through the last 2 weeks with flying colors and in my healing process as a whole.  Thank you.

1 Peter 3:12a

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer…”

 

Day 13

Filed under: Uncategorized — radioactivemama @ 10:11 am

I love you Day 13 because you will carry me home!

Last night I fell asleep pretty quick.  I was SO tired.  5:30am must have decided to let me go because I did not see it this morning. (I did however briefly see 5am, which was not very thrilling.)  I then fell back asleep until <gasp!> 9am??? What happened to my alarm clock (the guy with the hammer and the plastic tub?!)  When I got up and about and stepped outside I heard… nothing? (well some birds and far off cars)  No yelline men?  No construction trucks? What was going on?  These guys work on Saturdays… That’s when it dawned on me… apparently they don’t work (or at least not much) the day before Easter! Another reason to celebrate today!  There are 3 cars parked at the construction office across the street and when I looked down the road I saw a few guys down at the other end of the construction site piddling around… but I got to sleep in!  Go GOD!!!

I went downstairs to wash the rest of my clothes before I go home today and there was a basket of apples!  I was SO excited to eat one.  I have missed having fresh produce. I brought it up and washed it eagerly took my first bite… only to be reminded again that my taste buds are broken.  Oh well.  I ate it anyway.  I figure it is still just as good for me even if I can’t taste it. 🙂

Going to go check on that laundry and do some more packing! Less than 12 hours to go!!!  Oh yeah!!!

 

Goodnight Day 12… Friday, 2 Apr 10

Filed under: Uncategorized — radioactivemama @ 9:45 pm

It’s almost finished!

I decided not to go to the church service tonight after all.   As I was heating up my dinner I realized how incredibly exhausted I am, and it just seemed like going would be way too much for me tonight.  Plus it might not have been over until after dark, and I don’t know how comfortable I would be (and I’m sure Josh would not be comfortable at all!) with my walking back alone in the dark.

I did some more packing tonight.  I still can’t believe I am going home tomorrow!  I cannot wait to be in my own house, sleep in my own bed, and cuddle up with my husband and children.  I am sure that Sunday morning will be one of the best in our house in a long time!

I have had several people comment that they want to hear about the reunion – especially Princess’ reaction when she wakes up Sunday morning and comes in and finds me there!  I will be sure to write about it, but it may be a couple days after I get home as I will be busy loving on my family. 🙂

Today I went to a short Good Friday service in the hospital chapel.  It was so interesting to be there, in that setting, with these complete strangers talking about the suffering of Jesus.  I know that each person there has a story of suffering, of pain, and probably of loss that they could have shared.  We took communion and I have to say, it is the first time I have done so out of a medicine cup!  As I was holding the cup of juice and looking at the measurements on the cup, it struck me as how appropriate it was that the blood of Jesus was given to us in such a container.  I was about to drink 10 cc’s of grape juice.  If you are given a transfusion of blood (usually necessary to save your life) it is measured in the same type of measurements (although in a much larger quantity.)  If you are given medicine, something to help ease your pain, heal you, or make you whole, it is in these measurements and in this cup.  How appropriate then that we should drink the life-giving, sacrificial blood of Jesus, made to ease our pain, heal us and make us whole out of a medicine cup!  I am sure the chapel in the hospital uses these out of convenience, but it seems more appropriate than any container I have taken communion from!  What an unexpected message it brought to me today.

I pray that you all have a chance to reflect on what happened on this day so many years ago.  The King of the Jews was brutally beaten and crucified on a cross.  For those of us who are Christians, this is an important time for us to reflect and remember the enormity of the suffering Christ endured and the sacrifice God made.  For those who are not Christians, I pray that you too would think today about the enormity of the physical and emotional suffering Christ endured on this day and as you do, that you would come to know the weight of that sacrifice and to embrace and believe that He did it with YOU on His mind, that He did it for you because of His enormous love for you.  Today was the saddest day in the whole history of the Jewish people, initially.  As a Christian it would be if we didn’t know what happened next. But we do! We know what Sunday brings – resurrection!  I pray that you are touched this weekend by Jesus and his life, death, and resurrection.

Tomorrow will probably feel like the second longest day since I have been gone (the first day I was gone was the longest, I’m sure.)  But tomorrow, after the girls are in bed, Josh is coming to get me and I am going HOME!

Day 12, I hope you don’t keep  me awake until tomorrow like day 11 did.  I am ready to greet day 13 with open arms, but would rather it be well after sunrise when I do!

 

Last 24 hours

Filed under: Uncategorized — radioactivemama @ 6:06 pm

This day has flown by!  I got to spend a wonderful afternoon with my lovely friend, Amber.  Then I walked down to the strip and wandered around.  I got an orange float which sounded extravagant on this really hot afternoon.  Then I was reminded that my taste buds are not fully back to their normal state.  The float was rather disappointing in flavor, but it still cooled me down some.

Tonight I am planning to walk to the church around the corner and go to their “service of shadows” for Good Friday.

My Mom got to my house this morning with all of the missing items in tow. Josh was able to get to work and my Mom seems to have had a great day with the girls.  When I called earlier she had just finished painting Princess’ nails and putting little jewels on them. 🙂  Tonight someone brought food for my family that I didn’t even know was bringing it.

I had my full body scan today.  I get the results Mon or Tues next week. My hands were still really hot – more so than yesterday.  They advised me that wearing rubber gloves would make my hands sweat and get the radiation out faster.  I wish I had known or thought of that a week ago, lol! The good thing is that the radiation is not being transmitted to the things I touch.

I wish that I had a way to get to Wal-mart to do some last minute Easter shopping.  I don’t really want to have to stop anywhere on the way home with Josh tomorrow night.  It would be nice if there was a Wal-mart within walking distance.  I am kind of surprised there isn’t.  It seems like it would thrive with UT here.  There isn’t a Wal-mart that close to here at all.  A dollar store would be even better.  Oh well.  I am going home tomorrow and that’s what really matters! 🙂

Off to get ready for my walk to the church…