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
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.
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
The world would not consider me wealthy and yet I have A LOT of stuff. I was born into a family of antique dealers so acquiring things was a way of life. Things were justified by quality or cost instead of need. Collections were gathered and built. Auctions and estate sales a way of life. Get the picture? Stuff. Over the past few years the Holy Spirit has convicted me of the need to purge. To be a good steward of everything God has given me. I realize that years sound like a long time but it can take a while to change a heart, to clean out a basement. I also had to develop new habits or the change would be temporary. Our stuff can take up a lot of time and attention. We have to shop, purchase, maintain, clean, store, show off and even play with all that stuff. When we don’t have enough time or space for those things it can leave us physically and mentally exhausted or sick. It was during a recent illness that I reaped the blessings of this decision. It was a joy to open cabinets and not have the contents fall out, to actually know what I have and where it is, to not be ashamed to direct others into my closets and shelves. I experienced the joy of controlling my stuff instead of my stuff controlling me. It did not happen overnight nor is the process complete. My niece walked into our spare room yesterday and proclaimed, “What’s all this mess?!” I hoped the proclamation was just the sharp contrast from the rest of my well-organized home. But I think it was just a five-year-old on sensory overload. I am reminded that even the useful pretty things can pile into too much stuff.
So, how did I do it? (the purge, not the mess) It all began one morning while searching for something to wear that I decided that my closet looked like a thrift store puked. And my bedroom. And a few other rooms. They say that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. My unsolicited advice…pray before eating that elephant. Pray then move forward. I tried to focus on what I wanted to keep not what I wanted to get rid of. I wanted to enjoy the pretty things I had. It felt good to quickly get rid of the things I really didn’t want. When I began organizing things to keep it felt really good! Don’t discount having the Holy Spirit help you. He can not only prepare your heart for the task but guide you all along the way. I could not have done it without Him. Remember: Pray. Eat. You will never wish you didn’t!
“So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” Luke 16:11
There is something about social media that encourages normally tongue-tied people to freely express their opinions. I often wonder if they were standing in front of 150 or so people would they use the same words? Would they speak out? I am often surprised when people I have known for years suddenly passionately proclaims to be an expert on something I have never heard them speak about. It is unfortunate that many of these are unconsidered opinions. They see something online and without much thought basically jump into bed with whomever. Those who claim to be believers in Christ are not immune. We are prone to rant and rave, act superior and misquote Scripture at every seemly worthy cause. (this is my cue to quote Scripture correctly) James 3:8 tells us that, “but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison.” We should consider our written or spoken words as potentially untamed deadly poison.
In the world of digital communication, we often hide behind our phone, tablet or computer. It feels safe, comfortable. I am not going to suggest we listen passively as others promote things out of line with our beliefs or passions. There are many times when we are called to be bold. I will suggest we take a moment before responding. Pray. This is where I resist the urge to pray for smart witty words that will put someone in their place. Instead, I have been asking for a genuine love for others. To be a peacemaker. For the self-control to keep quiet or the wisdom to use words that will not bring harm. Our world is fast. We are programmed to think quick is good. And I will admit that I enjoy a quick witty response. We must remember that the printed word can carry more weight than spoken words and are more easily misunderstood. As believers, we must always honor God as well as others. The keyboard is a powerful tongue. Let us use our power for good not evil.