Negative for malignancy

Source: Interwebsgirl

I have some amazing news to share – the biopsy (see post from yesterday) came back negative for malignancy – which means I don’t have cancer!

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I don’t have many answers as to what is happening right now, but I’m going to try to focus on the fact that no matter what – at least I don’t have cancer.

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I wasn’t the only one who was happy to hear this news:

Beep's face when I told her I don't have cancer.
Beep’s face when I told her I don’t have cancer.

However, my sister did not do a very good job at sharing this news with her boyfriend, Matt:

When sending your boyfriend a text about your sister's test results, please make sure autocorrect doesn't change the diagnosis.
When sending your boyfriend a text about your sister’s test results, please make sure autocorrect doesn’t change the diagnosis.

Apparently, autocorrect wants me to have cancer. Screw you, autocorrect.

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I’m not very satisfied with the doctor’s plan to revisit things in one year. I am still extremely tired. My swallowing (and sometimes breathing) are affected by these nodules and my damaged thyroid.

Just two weeks ago, I choked while eating nachos. Pretty serious choking. I thought I was going to die. I live alone and I was afraid they would find Beep eating my body and that my tombstone would say “She died eating what she loved most – nachos.”

I’m keeping my appointment with the doctor at the Medical College of Wisconsin. I’m hoping he will have a plan for dealing with these nodules in an non-invasive way – or at least will have answers on how to deal with them. And the exhaustion. And the brain fog. And the anxiety.

I’m still going to struggle for awhile, but I’m hopeful that the weight of the “C” word being lifted from my diagnosis will help.

But above all, I am thankful to God for answering all my prayers. All your prayers. All our prayers.

I’m humbled and quite overwhelmed at the outpouring of support from all of you. I didn’t realize how much you all care. The texts, emails, comments, phone calls, likes and inbox messages have truly touched me more than I can adequately put into words.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

“There’s a chance you have cancer but I don’t want to speculate until we know more.”

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“But don’t worry. Even if it is cancer, you’ve probably had it for months or years – waiting a few weeks for a biopsy isn’t a big deal. This cancer grows slowly.”

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Let’s back up.

I started noticing some difficulty swallowing in late spring. I felt like I had a lump in my throat – like when you have a cold – only I didn’t have a cold. My sinuses, ears and lungs were fine. I just had a sore throat and didn’t feel like I was running at 100%.

I couldn’t take my morning pills and vitamins all in one gulp of water like I used to. I actually choked on my medication a couple of times.

I felt like something was wrong, but I wasn’t ready to deal with it. June was going to be crazy – I was moving across town, my brother was getting married and I had a three-day sorority conference out of state.

I told myself that if I still felt off after I had gotten through my move, the wedding and the conference, that I’d get in to see my doctor.

On June 29, I saw my primary doctor. I told her that I felt like there was a fullness in my throat/neck and that I was concerned that there was something wrong with my thyroid. I’ve had hypothyroidism for almost six years and I am able to recognize the symptoms when I’m having a flare up. This seemed more than a flare up.

My doctor examined me and said it did feel like my thyroid was enlarged on the right side. She recommended I have an ultrasound to rule out any problems. She also ordered a blood test to see if my TSH counts were off. My counts were off, so she increased my meds again.

I had an ultrasound the following week. I was very nervous but the technician was really nice – even though it felt like I was suffocating as she pressed the ultrasound wand into my neck to get images of my thyroid. I was told that I would get the results in a few days.

I left the hospital nervous, but figured I wouldn’t worry about it until the results were in. I went and got my nails done and was headed home when my phone rang. It was my doctor’s nurse. Just 90 minutes after I left the hospital they were already calling with results.

The nurse said I had multiple nodules on my thyroid and that my doctor was giving me a referral to an endocrinologist. I was transferred to the specialty area to make an appointment.

I made an appointment (but couldn’t get in until August 19) and asked to be put on a wait list. I followed up with a friend who works at the medical college (and whose dad is a retired ER doc). My friend spoke to colleagues who recommended I make an appointment with one of the endocrinologists there (who happens to specialize in nodules and thyroid cancer). A friend’s younger sister who had thyroid cancer seven years ago also recommended this doctor so I called to make an appointment but I couldn’t get in to see him until September 28. I am also on his wait list.

I wasn’t handling this well – that i had all these nodules and I had to wait so long to even have a consultation. Meanwhile, the fullness in my throat is getting worse and every week i notice another head/neck position that makes me hyper-aware of these nodules.

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The next week, I got a call from the guy my doctor recommended – there was a cancellation and they got me in for an appointment. Dr. S. did an exam and asked me lots of questions. He said that my thyroid is very damaged and that the damage is irreversible. It’s enlarged all over with multiple nodules on the right side and there’s one on the left side that is 1.7cm. He said this one is suspicious – partially because of its size, but also because it’s by itself. He also said my personal health history as well as family history (aunt had thyroid cancer a few years ago and my grandpa had half of his thyroid removed a decade ago due to suspicious nodules) combined add to the suspicion.

The doctor said that it could be cancerous but he didn’t want to speculate until we did a biopsy. But he said the “C” word and I didn’t hear much else he said after that.

I do remember him saying that depending on the test results, we may take a variety of treatment paths: Surgery, additional biopsies on the other nodules, ultrasounds and close monitoring every six months.

I had a FNAB (Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy) yesterday. Guided by an ultrasound, the doctor inserted 25 gauge needles into the nodule and removed tissue. Four times. (For comparison, blood donation uses 16 or 17 gauge needles).

The first two biopsies were unpleasant but bearable. The last two were so painful. No anesthesia at all. My neck/throat hurt a lot when I left the clinic. Obviously after leaving, I got a frappuccino and went to acupuncture because my anxiety is through the roof and when you have giant needles shoved in your throat the obvious next step is to jab a bunch of needles all over your body.

The last seven weeks have been torture. My anxiety is getting out of control. I’m trying everything to remain calm.

I feel the nodules every time I swallow. Every time I turn my head. I frequently have a sore throat or hoarse voice.

On top of that, despite the increase in dosage, I am still suffering the effects of a prolonged hypothyroid flareup. I am exhausted. All.The.Time.

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It takes all I have to get through the work day. I come home and crash. On weekends, I wake up around 6 a.m. and then take my first nap around 9 a.m. Yes, I said first nap. I nap all day.

I even stayed home from work today because I’m just so tired. And my neck is sore. And my voice is hoarse. And my neck is swollen. And I just can’t.

I am working on the anxiety, thanks in part to acupuncture, essential oils/baths, prayers and meditation. But the chronic exhaustion is taking it’s toll on me mentally and physically.

The next few days will be torture as I try to get through the day while worrying about when I will receive a call from a doctor telling me if I have cancer or not. Or if things are suspicious and surgery is recommended for further investigation. It’s all nerve-racking.

Please keep me in your prayers. Send your positive thoughts and wishes for strength and faith that I can get through this.

Please also send ice cream. Preferably this:

Photo: LauraLeeMarx
Photo: LauraLeeMarx

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Weigh In Wednesday: Life is good edition

Sometimes God completely surprises you

Just a month ago, we found out my Aunt/Godmother had been upgraded to active on the donor registry. Because there are so many people across the country needing a liver, we expected to wait a long time (2-3 years) for her to get a cadaver liver. We wondered how far Janice’s disease might progress while she waited for a liver. When her doctors spoke of the possibility of a living donor transplant, two people stepped forward to be tested to determine if they could donate half their liver to Janice so she wouldn’t have to wait so long.

Then completely out of the blue, the Mayo Clinic called my aunt last night to tell her they had a liver that was a near perfect match for her. The surgery began this morning and was completed by early afternoon. Blood and bile began flowing immediately in the new liver as soon as it was hooked up. The surgeon was very pleased with how well the surgery went. Janice did not even need to receive any units of blood or blood products which is highly unusual. She is still in Transplant ICU but may be transferred to a room in the Transplant wing as soon as tomorrow. As with any transplant patient, the next two days are crucial.

God is GOOD. Our prayers have been answered!!!

In case you were wondering, Janice is one of my family members I’m run/walking a half marathon for in July. Mile 13 is dedicated to her. She has ulcerative colitis plus the degenerative liver disease. Both are autoimmune diseases. I am so thankful God has blessed her and all of us with such a precious gift. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers… as well as for the family of the person who died and ultimately saved her life. If you are not a registered organ donor, I urge you to consider registering and telling your family and friends your wishes. You could help save a life! In Wisconsin, you can now register as an organ donor online.

April is Donate Life month, too! Every year, people across the U.S. make a special effort to celebrate the tremendous generosity of those who have saved lives by becoming organ, tissue, marrow, and blood donors and to encourage more Americans to follow their fine example. Learn more about Donate Life Month here.

Update on my health

I had a checkup with my doctor this week to see where things were with my blood pressure and thyroid counts. The good news? My blood pressure was 128/84! I don’t have to get it checked for another 6 months. The bad news? My thyroid counts went up again so they increased my meds again. I’m honestly not surprised that my counts were high again. I have been feeling crappy again – low energy, cold – lately and I am anxiously waiting for the meds to kick in!

And now… drumroll please…

I gained .2 lbs this week (aka no change)… BUT I lost 5.75 inches in the past 4 weeks. My grand total is 12.8 lbs lost and 18.5 inches lost in 12 weeks! While I’m very happy with those numbers, I’m a little disappointed that I haven’t lost more weight in 12 weeks. I’ve been working out 4-6 days a week and have tried to be smarter with my food choices. I’ll just have to work harder!

Checking up, slowing down and a wardrobe malfunction

On Friday, I had a checkup with Dr. H. regarding my myriad of health issues. First, I talked with Nurse Debbie. I was bursting to tell her I lost almost 11 pounds. She was SOOO excited for me! She asked what I was doing and I said I was exercising and eating less. I made sure to point out that I’m not cutting anything completely from my diet, just eating smaller amounts of food. She agreed this is probably the best way for me to lose weight.

Pulse was good. Blood pressure was… (insert fanfare) 136/86. Still not great, but down from 149/92 in December! SCORE.

I also told Debbie about my plan to do a 5k in April and a half-marathon in July. I even told her about my breakthrough C25k moment last week. I also told her about something that happened during that run/walk that I didn’t share with y’all. I had a wardrobe malfunction. I was about 12 min into the intervals on the treadmill when I felt a li’l drafty. Figured it must be because I was running oh-so-fast. Then I did a “pants check.” Yep. Sure enough, my pants fell below my bootay. Luckily, I was wearing a long shirt and *hopefully* no one saw too much of my underwear. I quickly pulled my pants up. I hope I didn’t scar anyone for life. Nurse Debbie started laughing so hard her eyes began to water. She said she felt bad about laughing but it was too funny. I assured her I didn’t mind if she laughed… I’ve been laughing about it all week.

So then Dr. H. came in and we had a really good talk (20+ min) about everything. I told her about the 5k, half-marathon and this blog. She was so happy I’ve lost weight. “I’m impressed,” she said when she realized I had lost almost 11 pounds in just 6 weeks. Dr. H. laughed about the wardrobe malfunction and said she definitely thought I could walk a half marathon in July. YES!

Dr. H. was very happy to see my blood pressure had dropped and attributed that to my exercising. She said that hopefully in a few months, it will be back down to normal! I’m so happy I don’t have to go on meds!

I went to the lab to have some blood drawn to check my Thyroid levels and my TSH was down to 5.24 (from 10.2 in December). She upped my meds slightly and hopefully the increase will help regulate my levels enough that I don’t need to up them anymore. I started the higher dose Saturday and haven’t noticed a difference just yet. Soon, I hope! My iron counts were good, so I don’t have to increase that.

The results from the sleep apnea link test I took earlier this month came in last week. I wasn’t in the “normal” range, but I wasn’t in the “grossly abnormal” stage either. Basically, that means I have to do a sleep study at the hospital. THAT should be a blast. I hardly slept with the apnea link, I can’t imagine how I’ll sleep with even more stuff hooked up to me and a video camera watching me sleep. I just might make an obscene gesture or two, to make sure they’re paying attention.

I also talked with Dr. H. about my knee pain, telling her I think it’s just weak from not working out and maybe I aggravated some scar tissue from the surgery I had when I was 18. She said if the pain wasn’t stabbing/short, I was probably right. So I’m gonna work on strengthening my calves/quads/hamstrings plus hip abductors/adductors and hope that helps righty out. Acupuncture is actually helping quite a bit, so hopefully the combination of the above with the new brace I ordered I will be able to continue C25k training next week. I’ve decided that I’m taking this week off, and focusing on the strength training and will just do walking and/or biking for cardio.

Reminder:  I’m selling coffee to raise money for Crohn’s and Colitis research!

Putting on a brave face but crying on the inside

Right now I feel like jumping off the bridge anyway.


Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dannyman/ / CC BY-NC 2.0

But I won’t. Well not this weekend anyway.

I digress.

Tonight was the #fitmke Weight Loss Challenge kickoff and official weigh-in. And BOY did I weigh in. LIKE WEEEEEIIIIIIGHHH in. Before I post the numbers, I would like to mention the following:

  1. He made me keep my big winter boots on
  2. I’m fat
  3. I was a bit dehydrated (apparently, if you’re not well hydrated, it throws off the body fat % number…)
  4. I’m fat
  5. It was a PM weigh-in and you typically weigh more in the evening (or so I’ve been told)
  6. I’m fat
  7. I have a thyroid condition that has definitely contributed to a massive weight gain over the past year.

That said…. I weighed in at 274.2. Holy !@#($!#$%@$!#*(&! I wanted to cry, but I stayed strong. THEN, I was dragged kicking and screaming had the privilege of getting my body fat percentage taken. It was 45. I am almost HALF FAT. !@#($!@(#$$%&^%^&*%@#$!@#$. But, please keep #3 in mind.

The trainer didn’t take measurements, so I did that when I got home. My sister helped me cuz I could not measure my arms for the life of me.

I’m going to keep track of everything on the Stats page… so if you want to see the damage, click on over. WARNING: content may not be appropriate for the young or faint of heart.

What has this taught me?

I am in need of some SERIOUS changes in my life. Y’all need to keep pushing me, because all I want to do right now is to drown my sorrows in large amounts of alcohol, ice cream and deep fried goodness.

Did I ever mention I’m an emotional eater? Cuz yeah, I am.

I seriously SERIOUSLY want to give up. But I know y’all have my back (all 274.2 pounds of it) and instead, I’m going to steam some veggies. It’s time to say a big ol’ EFFFFF U to the fat.

One more thing. If we’re on a plane and it crashes in the middle of nowhere, I give you permission to eat my fat ass when I die.

Learning to live with hypothyroidism

It’s been about two weeks since I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. My TSH level was a 10.2. The normal range is 0.4-5.0. In a nutshell, the higher this count is, the less your thyroid is doing. From what I’ve read, there are many people with hypothyroidism who don’t have an elevated TSH… but this is often the biggest tipping point to the diagnosis… along with a myriad of symptoms (bold=my symptoms):

  • Poor muscle tone (muscle hypotonia)
  • Fatigue
  • Cold intolerance, increased sensitivity to cold
  • Depression
  • Muscle cramps and joint pain
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Goitre
  • Thin, brittle fingernails
  • Thin, brittle hair
  • Paleness
  • Decreased sweating
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Weight gain and water retention

And these are just a few of the symptoms… So you can imagine how I’ve been feeling lately… especially if you add in the anemia.

There’s a lot of debate out there over taking drugs like Synthroid or something like a natural dessicated thyroid supplement. Right now I’m taking Synthroid and seeing improvements. I’m not cold all the time anymore and my energy levels are slowly on the rise. If you have any research or information on thyroid treatments, please share in the comments below.

And so it begins…

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions… to me, it’s a bit cliche. Besides, if you want to make a change in your life, why should a day on the calendar dictate when you start? When you’re ready to make the change, make it. JUST DO IT. Waiting “one more day” or “starting Monday” just gives you a crutch to hold on to — holding on to the old habits you’re trying to stop.

And yet, here I am, writing a blog post on New Year’s Day. I disgust myself.

I actually started making some changes a couple of weeks ago, but those were more for health reasons than anything else.

And my health is why I’m doing this.

I’m making a life change, and I need you all to hold me accountable, mmmkay?

Here’s a back story on the health issues I’m dealing with:

Over the past few months, my lack of energy and continual tiredness was attributed to my new work schedule – 5am to 2pm weekdays. Even though I was getting plenty of sleep, I never felt 100%. I could take a 4 hour nap after work, wake up to eat supper and then go back to bed and I was still always tired. Then, the coldness kicked in. I was always cold at work, home and everywhere else. It became the norm for me to keep my scarf, hat and coat on at work… and this was soon joined by a blanket on my lap. My skin always felt warm to the touch to others and I never had a fever. I took my temperature multiple times a day because I was convinced I had some type of infection. Why else would I be so cold so much of the time?

Conversations with family and my Twitter friends led me to wonder if something bigger was going on. Luckily, I already had my yearly physical scheduled for the following week, so I just toughed it out until that appointment.

My doctor confirmed what friends hypothesized – I probably have a thyroid problem. Numerous blood tests later, I found out that not only did I have hypothyroidism (with a TSH count of 10.2, normal is 0.4-5.0), I was also very anemic.

No WONDER I felt like death. Seriously, if I had to guess what death felt like, it would have been how I’ve felt for the last month or so.

Looking back, the symptoms started this summer… but I attributed them all to my work schedule and a changing routine. My symptoms didn’t come on suddenly – I was just ignoring them.

My doctor also suggested I get tested for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing when you sleep. Yeah, super scary. My uncle has it and I’ve heard it can run in families. Awesomesauce. Sleep apnea can also be caused by being overweight, which I am. My doctor and I decided to wait to do that testing until I have the thyroid and anemia issues under control. Baby steps.

I also had high blood pressure for the first time ever. I am about the age that my mom and her brothers all went on high blood pressure meds, so I’ve always been closely monitored. My doc thinks it could have been a result of another medication I was on, so she ended up taking me off it. Hopefully that plus weight loss will do the trick.

Can you say scary? All these problems coming at me at once?

Obviously, I need to change my life.

I’m not a skinny girl in a fat girl’s body. I’m a fat girl in a fat girl’s body. I will always be a fat girl, no matter what my outward appearance looks like. I’m an emotional eater. I eat when I’m stressed, depressed, happy. I love rich, tasty food, forget about the calories. Sometimes, it just doesn’t matter.

But now, it does.

I am committing to living a healthier life. I am committing to document my journey by writing this blog. I am committing to losing it without losing me.

I want to lose the bulky weight, the plus-size clothes, the getting-short-of-breath-when-I-walk-up-a-flight-of-stairs. I want to lose it all…. but not lose who I am in the process.

This is where you come in.

Hold me accountable.

Don’t let me lose who I am.

Encourage me when I fail.

Praise me when I triumph.

I’m not planning on making any crazy goals, like “lose 50 pounds by summer.” But, if that does happen, I won’t be upset. I just want to get to a healthy weight, no matter how long it takes me to get there.  I will be outlining my goals in a future post.

So that’s it. I’m committing to losing it without losing me, will you commit to holding me accountable?