I realize I skipped part 3. I will come back to it I promise. It is just that part 4 feels really fresh. It is nowhere near over so hence the a. It begins in November 2018. 2018 was a year fraught with unwanted change and grief. I was ready to be done with it. Through it all I appeared to be managing my health really well. I had a rough spell in April that required an adjustment in my meds. Other than that things were looking good. A colonoscopy showed my colon to look “just like a colon is supposed to look.” I was managing my nutrition and exercise well. I wasn’t experiencing low calcium symptoms. I was feeling pretty darn good. I was. In November I had a routine ultrasound that came back suspicious. I went for a biopsy and Dr E told me immediately that it was Cancer. Dr. N called me and wanted me to see my surgeon who sent me for a CT scan. Dr O called and wanted me to consult with specialist in NC. I have a consultation with Dr S that gives me an overload of information. Dr S wants me to see a thyroid specialist but I am unable to get an appointment. In the meantime my insurance will not approve my PET scan. I have another utrasound. Dr S is concerned about the location of the tumor and damage to a nerve if he operates. He still wants me to see Dr H the thyroid specialist to see if she could do an Alcohol Ablation. Christmas is upon us so I go home and wait upon the powers that be.
At the first of the year I am finally able to get an appointment on January 29 with Dr H in her new office in Charleston, SC. It is a three week wait. For the last month I have scheduled my clients appointments telling them I might have to move them. I continue to do this. Husband has been on jury duty since October and has had alot going on at work. We are dealing with lots of unsettledness. I feel like I can’t commit to anything because I don’t know what I will need to do. I like having a plan. I am willing to deviate but I want something to deviate from. I trust God. I trust His plan for me. Often it isn’t exactly clear what I am supposed to do. I think for believers knowing Gods will through the details is often quite difficult. Do I go left or right? Wait or move ahead? I wish God functioned like Alexa. I could just say, “Father, what do you want me to do today?” And then hear His audible voice. Sigh. I know to consult His Word. But it fails to give me the details of left or right. What His Word does tell me is who He is. And without knowing who He is I could never begin to know His will. So in my struggle to make decisions and to actively wait, I will rest in who He is. Father, Savior, Redeemer, Healer, Provider, Omnipresent, Omniscient, just to name a few.
I saw Dr H in Charleston. I admit I have a dr-crush on her. She is caring, smart and pretty. She did a very through ultrasound and reviewed my medical history as well as my current regimen. Unfortunately she did not think I was a good candidate for the alcohol ablasion. It is just too close to that darn nerve. She reviewed my past records from 2005 and consulted with my three other doctors (crush!). Conclusion: The plan is to see if I can “uptake” radioactive iodine to shrink the tumors. And so I wait for insurance approval and further direction as I focus on who God is.
In faith, Deanna
A tree fell on our house today. It is the kind of thing that happens when you are minding your own business, waiting on your appointment with the specialist to consult about your fourth round of thyroid cancer. I am filled with disbelief. It is times like these when I say, Really!? I mean REALLY!? This is how it is gonna be? You know how it is when you think you are at your stress limit. Last week just for the fun of it I took the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory. I have experienced lots of change in the past year and just needed a bit of affirmation. So yes, with the score of more than 300 points I have an 80% chance of a health breakdown in the next two years. This was not exactly the results I was looking for. I just wanted it to say yes you have had a lot going on and we understand how you feel. Bless your heart. Did I mention there a tree is pressed against the window behind me? The tree wasn’t even included in the list. It is a good thing I have resources. I know the end of the story. In John 16 Jesus gave the disciples a promise, “I have told you these things so that you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” In this world I am having a bit of trouble. The kind of never-ending stuff that life just keeps tossing out. But now I take heart! I leave you with a picture of the tree in happier days hanging out with our black snake, Snake. In the words of Scarlett O’Hara, tomorrow is another day.
In faith, Deanna
I had begun to call my first go around with thyroid cancer The Big Inconvenience. I had survived. I found it doable and at this point it mostly felt inconvenient. I was still trying to figure out how to live with HYPOPARA and I was still managing my daily meds. Both with no end in sight. The endocrinologist I began my journey with had retired and I began to see the Nurse Practitioner. JG was great. She spent time with me and listened when I had issues. I really felt like a person and not an appointment time slot. She found part 2 of my cancer. It was 2013 and for the last eight years I had been having the regular blood-work and ultrasounds. When things showed up she wanted me to go for a biopsy. I had done all this before and I had opinions about who I would go to. She patiently send me to someone more specialized in delicate area biopsy. My new Cytopathology person Dr R was amazing. It was still painful but a much better experience than the first go around. I was surprised with the results because thyroid cancer was supposed to be the easy one. No big deal in the cancer world. The word about town was that it was curable. We next had to find a surgeon and I had gotten pretty choosy after the first experience. I landed with Dr O. Since this wasn’t my first party I felt I knew what to expect. Not a lot of the process had changed. The nurse would start to go over things with me and I would inject my own view of what was going to happen. I am sure I was annoying but I felt annoyed. There are lots of important details that they don’t exactly share up front. I want the whole story. I want to know what to expect and to have a plan. I can veer from the plan but I need to have one in place. Aside from the problems with my calcium levels (hypoparathyroidism) following the surgery, everything else went fairly smoothly. I liked my new surgeon. He made another scar right above my old one.
I worked as much as I could during the process and I had lots of help. Off my thyroid meds all my appointments took 15-30 minutes longer and I had trouble doing all the extras. Laundry, scheduling and cleaning up was difficult at best. At home I was equally worthless. I was exhausted in the morning and worse in the evening. I couldn’t take a shower without resting before I could dry off. One day my girlfriend left me something in my mailbox and I thought, well that’s too bad it might as well be in Ireland. I thought about driving down to get it but didn’t know where my keys were. Chronic fuzzy brain was also a problem. Please don’t ask me anything because answering questions was a struggle. I love how each time you go to the doctor they ask the same questions over and over. I wanted to tell them that we could just look at my computer file and that way we would both know the answer.
A lot of what I experienced has been lost due to my lack of memory or is mixed up between surgeries and treatments. I did learn that the human body can mindlessly function through things that are habitual. I learned that suffering grows my faith and my relationship with Jesus. I have learned that we need each other. That shared experiences are the things that hold us together and cause us to love more deeply. That it is okay to ask for help and what a blessing it is to receive needed help that you didn’t have to ask for. We have all asked someone, Is there anything I can do? I have learned that to be a friend is to just do it.
In faith, Deanna
I resolve to only make resolutions that I will enjoy keeping. Why set myself up for failure? I always hate January at the gym. It is impossible to get a good workout in because of the crowd. Then February comes and the crowd goes away. There is a pressure to come up with a life changing resolution that actually changes your life. So, several years ago I decided to resolve to only do fun resolutions. Things that I enjoy and look forward to doing. Such as drink more wine. That was a enjoyable resolution that broadened my taste buds and appreciation for good wine. See more plays. Also enjoyable and resulted in lots of dates with my hubby. Play with what you have. My way of being content with what I have and it forced me to get more organized so I could find what I have. This year it is a toss up between get outside and hike or do more yoga. Both are things I enjoy and might actually help me become healthier. It might encourage me to focus on maintaining or bettering the good health that I have regardless of the cancer. Change is the bottom line for a resolution and the new year symbolizes new beginnings. I love in Scripture when Paul talks about believers becoming a new creation in Christ, the old is gone and the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17) This not only speaks of salvation, but of the sanctification process that Christ works in each believer. Although sanctification is ongoing, I feel that the new year encourages my partipaton in the process. It causes me to examine myself. Do I like what I see? My life goal is to make Jesus smile. Am I? I think get outside and hike will be my catalyst. Happy New Year!
In faith, Deanna
I am a glass half full kind of person. I can’t help it really. I am blessed with being able to see different sides of a situation and I am naturally drawn to the full side. But sometimes my glass gets tipped over. It throws me off and it takes a bit to get it upright again. It’s like one of those days when gravity always wins and no good deed goes unpunished. There is a line in Psalm 22 that describes it for me exactly. “I am poured out like water…” Wow. If you have ever felt this way you know exactly the feeling David was describing. It feels like I am spent and I have nothing more. I have often heard well meaning believers say that God won’t give you more than you can handle. Well I don’t think that is exactly true. Without getting into a Scripture debate I declare my proof is in life. I know because at this moment I have more than I can handle. You disagree? You think I am handling? I am certainly not doing it in my own power. I am spent. Poured out like water. I think I have misplaced my glass and I am not going to look for it. Instead I will paraphrase 2 Corinthians 12:9 His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
Thanks JoAnne for reminding me!
In Faith, Deanna
This isn’t the first time someone has told me that I am complicated. I get it. I feel complicated. When I try to explain my medical history it is hard to get it all straight in my head and then verbalize. Every new doctor I see has to be educated in Deanna and from there do their best to figure out what I need. It is complicated. The human body is amazing. Although we are individually responsible for our own health it is also a collaborative effort. We find ourselves at the mercy of insurance companys, doctors, nurses, assistants, technicians, labs, technology, appointment makers and even the person that checks us in. It is a delicate balance and it is complicated. When life gets messy I love David’s Psalms. How he pours out his heart. He holds nothing back from God and tells Him exactly how he feels because he knows God can handle it. David feels forgotten, fought against, slipping, guilty, brokenhearted, rejected, slandered, attacked by enemies, despised, mocked, insulted, surrounded by dogs, encircled by evil, stared at and gloated over– just to mention a few. Sound familiar? I am sure David felt complicated and he knew God was not suprised or baffled by compliciation. I wonder how many times David thought back to how it felt to slay Goliath. How it felt to depend completely on God’s power, step into harms way and experience an impossible victory. I think he remembered Gods power through all the other complications in his life. I think so because when I read his Psalms I see that he not only pours out his suffering but he praises God in the midst of it. He knows that God can take care of his enemies, his suffering, his health, cancer, insurance and every annoying thing that comes against me. Okay I added those last three because they are personal. Like David, I remember how God has enabled me in the past. How He has carried me. God and I have history and like David I am confident in the mercy of my Lord and Savior. It is not death I fear but what I might have to endure to get there. It is complicated, this feeling of peace entangled in helplessness. The feeling of wanting God’s will but telling Him exactly what I think I need. “I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before Him, before him I tell my trouble.” Psalm 142:1-2
In faith, Deanna
PS This week I was unable to do a scan because of insurance and see a specialist because I couldn’t get an appointment. Dr. S did spend well over an hour with Mark and I discussing options and what ifs. My next step is chasing down the specialist –Dr. H–to get a consultation and see if I am a candidate for a newish procedure. If that doesn’t pan out I have a few more options. In the mean time I am brushing up on prayer, persevering and trying my best not to be compliciated!
I have a friend of a friend of a friend that usually says “to make long story short” about fifteen minutes into the story (smile). My LSS goes like this. My first thyroid cancer diagnosis was in 2005. I went for a CT scan on my sinuses and since I am allergic to the contrast, I had to do a prep. Dr. L decided to scan my whole head and neck. This was a God-thing because that was how my first cancer was found. Mark and I were both self-employed at the time with pre-existing conditions so insurance was a nightmare. I was quietly living with Crohns Disease and we had what was called TNCare. Not alot of doctors were willing to take TNCare patients so I was limited who would see me. So, I landed with Dr F. My journey started with a very painful biopsy and then surgery to remove my thyroid. After surgery I had complications that resulted in me having Hypoparathyroidism (poof! I now have two chronic conditions). My parathyroids were damaged during surgery so the calcium and phospherus in my bones and blood could not regulate on their own. This resulted in several ER visits and much adjusting of medication. This is a rare condition I will live with for the rest of my life. The rest of my treatment seemed pretty standard. After having my thyroid removed I had no thyroid function so I suffered all those side effects experienced when you have no thyroid function. I was exhausted, weak, emotional, had dry skin, hair loss, was always cold and ached all over. And just when I thought I had enough I had to do what I fondly refer to as The Ridiculous Diet. The diet was to increase the effectiveness of my upcoming raidoactive iodine treatment. Prohibited foods: Dairy, Egg Yolks, Seafood or anything from the ocean, Processed or prepackaged foods, restaurant foods, baked goods, soy, chocolate, Red Dye #3, beans, sea salt or iodionized salt. See why I called it ridiculous. When I recieved the RAI I had to be in isolation at the hospital for several nights. I remember telling Mark that we married for better or worse and I was pretty sure this was the worse. With surgery and treatment behind me I could finally start my thyroid replacement horomone and was certain things had to be getting better. However, my daily medication was a whole seperate ordeal. My calcuim levels were so bad I needed to take calcium three times a day. I couldn’t take calcuim or my thyroid replacement within two hours of each other or anything else. I also had my crohns medication that needed to be taken two times a day. This left me with six times a day that I needed to take meds at least two hours apart. If I messed up on my schedule I couldn’t take everything that day. If I missed calcium I had symptoms quickly. The other meds took a bit longer to feel a missed dose. This did this for the next ten years…
As I revist my LSS I wonder how in the world did I do this!? How do other people do this!? And I smile because I am blessed with a huge support system. I am loved. I have purpose. The God of the universe knows my name. And it is simply because of these things that I am able to continue.
Sometimes my grandmother would dress like she was homeless. Her clothing just didn’t make sense. It was as if she had pulled some things out of a sack and put them on with no thought to the final outcome. I once saw her at the post office and didn’t recognize her. I am not sure if it was the crocheted cap with the fuzzy ball or the polo shirt with a stork that threw me off. I don’t want to mislead you, she often dressed very nicely. The homeless look wasn’t her norm. This morning, years after her passing I finally understood… I arose with 15 minutes to get ready. No problem considering yoga doesn’t require a lot of getting ready time. Brush teeth, wash face, moisturize and put uncombed hair into a bun. Then I put on my favorite flowered yoga pants, matching tank and not so matching green uggs – chosen for their warmth. I am running low on time so I grab a burgundy fleece -conveniently laying on the chair- and I can only seem to find my bright red down coat although I have a nice neutral navy one somewhere. I catch my reflection as I head out the door and WHOA! I can’t go out like this. Out of time I quickly take off the red down and decide to wear my long black cashmere coat. I am certain that the color and quality will make everything look better. Tada! The homeless look. It is amazing how quickly it happened.
In faith, Deanna
“The Lord will fight for you, you only have to be still.”
I plucked this Scripture from the book of Exodus where Moses is speaking to the terrified Israelites just as Pharaoh and his massive army has them hemmed up to the Red Sea. Then, just as Moses tells them to be still, in the next verse God instructs them to move on. Then things get familiar. After all, the parting of the Red Sea is where all the excitement is. But the part that stands out to me is that the Lord will fight for me. And as I settle in to my happy place I realize my part. I need to be still. To be still is an action. Especially for someone who wants to do something. It requires thought, discipline, perseverance and trust. The Israelites didn’t just go running up to the sea and it part like an automatic door opening into a department store. They had to stop and look around. See the enemy approaching. Realize their situation. Feel terrified and wait on God. God took a seemingly hopeless no way out situation and opened a way only He could open. That is how we can actually see God. How we know He exists. How we know His power.
Lately I have felt a bit hemmed in. Like I have turned a corner only to find a brick wall. I am trying to be still and not be frustrated with where I am. The introvert in me finds transparency exhausting. I came home from work today and slept. It was one of those naps where you feel like you have just lain down and shut your eyes but when you look at the clock two hours have passed. I feel restored in rest and lately I am energized to share. That’s new for me. The thing I have realized this week is that I am not just going into battle but I am going into battle with an army. That is power.
In faith, Deanna
It is hard not to feel just a bit put out. Like maybe I have done something wrong or failed to do something right. The ongoing frustration of not being able to stop the ride. I could be angry but I don’t know where to direct said anger. As a believer it is easy to say that God has a plan. But it is often difficult to feel completely on board when you don’t have the whole plan laid out in front of you. When life feels like a detour. Thyroid cancer is supposed to be a good one. Easily overcome. But that just isn’t my experience. The introvert in me wants to hide away and quietly consider my situation. But that just isn’t working for me. So, what is a girl to do? I will hold tight to my purpose -to know God, love Him, enjoy Him and glorify Him. And with that foundation I will take some advise given to me a few cancers ago, blog. Phew, never thought I’d say that. I would love for you to come along side me. I apologize ahead for my bad grammar, rants, whining, periodic embarrassment and dry humor. I am thankful for this opportunity. As I begin my forth round of thyroid cancer, my goal is transparency and always to make you and Jesus smile.
In faith, Deanna