Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Patience is a virtue...

Experience has taught me this, that we undo ourselves by impatience. 
Misfortunes have their life and their limits, their sickness and their health. 
~Michel de Montaigne

I consider myself a rather patient person.  I have been known to wait in extremely long lines for sale items at Canadian Tire.  I waited a long time for a job I wanted.  I am very patient with my hubby (ok ok ok not really but pretty good).  Traffic jams do not bother me and I don't even really mind people being late.  But, when it comes to this cancer thing being over...I am done!!!

Yesterday was my 2nd appointment with an endocrinologist.  I needed a 2nd appointment because the first doctor said I fell into the "grey" category and she recommended I see the top doc.  My situation was described as "grey" because of my age, size of tumor and health history.  These endocrinologists are the nicest and smartest people I have met and they definitely have the patience of Job...but not me.  They have outlined for me the next steps with my cancer treatment and quite frankly I am having a hard time with it because it is going to take a long time until it is a thing of the past. 

It is really 3 processes that I am involved in that are bugging me. 

Firstly, is the regulation of my daily medication.  I take .175mg of Levothyroxine each morning and I require blood tests to determine if the hormone levels are normal or not.  I had the blood work done yesterday but will not know if my levels are "normal" until I receive a letter next week telling me the results and if I need to adjust my medication.  Everyone is telling me that it may take years to get my levels normal - argggggg!

I want to know now if they are normal as I am feeling weird.  So many side effects from this drug that is keeping me functioning.  The yuckiest things have been happening to me; heart palpitations, being nauseous, muscle cramps, being anxious, confused and, my husband would point out my agitation and lack of ability to sleep even though I am wiped out.  So, I am not being patient about what the letter will say next week and want to know now if this is "normal".  The doctor said yesterday "the fact that I am feeling so abnormal is normal".  Oh goodness.

Secondly, I have to have 2 tests to determine if I have any more thyroid cells in my body; a neck ultrasound and "special blood test".  I have the ultrasound scheduled for June 30th but that is not the problem.  In order to have the "special blood test" you have to stop taking your daily drug and endure 3 weeks of the consequences of an under active thyroid which may include fatigue, muscle cramps, puffiness and constipation.  Great, try preparing for a marathon in that state! 

So, there is another option now.  There is a a drug called Thyrogen which you can have while continuing to take your daily medication.  You take the Thyrogen in a needle form on a Monday and Tuesday and have your blood test on a Friday to read your levels.  Great right?  No need to be a slug, you can function almost normally and it takes a lot less time.  Here is the big problem....there is no Thyrogen available!!!!!!  I spoke to my pharmacist and she stated it is back ordered until at least July 7th and even then, they are not sure if a Canadian shipment will arrive.  The endocrinologist says that they can not do the test unless I have the Thyrogen because it is hard to bounce back from being off your daily meds for 3 weeks. 

Lastly, once I get my neck ultrasound, finally get the Thyrogen, do the 2 doses, wait a week to get my blood work, the they will schedule the radioactive iodine treatment. 

Don't get me started on this thing!

For this treatment, I have to be hospitalized and placed in isolation for about 3 days after taking a pill of radioactive iodine in order to minimize the risk of radiation exposure to others. Since the RAI is passed out of the body through all bodily fluids such as stool, urine, saliva and sweat are potential forms of contamination. You must be hospitalized in a special isolation room so that all of your bodily fluids may be disposed of properly. You will be served your meals on paper plates with disposable utensils. Your urine and stool will be collected and disposed of in proper radioactive waste containers. Your bed sheets will be specially laundered. Personal items such as pillows, stuffed animals, or needlepoint should not be brought into the isolation room since these items will become contaminated with radioactivity. Newspapers, magazines and paperback books are allowed because these can be thrown away. In addition, all nurses, doctors and housekeeping personnel who enter your hospital room must wear a special badge to monitor the amount of radiation that they are exposed to. Only brief visits are permitted.

On the third day you will be scanned for residual disease and then discharged, after the hospital's radiation safety officers have determined that the level of radiation is low enough for discharge. 

So, I will try to practice some patience and I will try to be as normal in this abnormal state but if you see me and I am a tad anxious, nauseous, confused and tired, you will understand why.