Saturday, January 16, 2010

Be careful of what you ask for

I was really only trying to be cool like everyone else. Really, that was it. Last fall I went to the Thyroid Cancer Survivors Association's ( annual conference. Everyone else talked about their endocrinologist and the tests they undergo regularly. I asked another long term survivor and she said that she had an endocrinologist. I even asked an endocrinologist who had given a presentation and he said thyroid cancer patients should probably be followed up with by an endocrinologist. I felt very uncool, and a little uncomfortable - I mean was I missing something important here?

When I was first diagnosed back in 1981, I used to seen an endocrinologist twice a year and then once a year. I had blood tests a lot. Then that endocrinologist (with the perfect doctor completely illegible handwriting that is etched indelibly into my medical chart) retired in the late 1980s and I was sent to a new endocrinologist who went to part time around 1999 or 2000. She told me I could be followed up with by a general internal medicine doctor with periodic visits to an endocrinologist. I haven't seen one since. So last fall I was feeling a tiny bit neglected and asked my oncologist, who happened to be the next doctor I saw after the conference, and she said it probably wouldn't hurt so she sent me to an endocrinologist.

I saw her yesterday. What was I thinking? What is the one thing in my life I need fewer of (besides weight) than anything else? Doctor appointments! Apparently times have changed. I should be seen by an endocrinologist twice a year for blood work and an attempt to level out my thyroid levels which have been bouncing around. And I should have a neck ultrasound every five years. I have never had a neck ultrasound in my life - well maybe back before surgery in 1981 but that was the last time. And although it is likely I would experience a recurrence at this late date, it is possible - thyroid cancer does recur decades later, blah, blah, blah.

Synthroid is hard on bones and after nearly three decades of taking it, bone density is a concern and I need to watch my calcium intake. Calcium and synthroid cannot be taken within hours of each other - I knew that part but apparently your body can only absorb about 500 mg of calcium at a time and it should be split up over the course of the day and I should take one tablet at lunch, one at dinner and one before bed. This definitely complicates my life. Here was my pill intake: wake up - synthroid and tamoxifen; 1 hour later celexa, etodolac, lyrica; 3 hours later vitamins including 1500 mg calcium and 600 units vitamin D; before dinner more etodolac and lyrica. Am I going to remember to add the calcium to all this? NO WAY! I usually remember to take vitamins once a day - but three times? My husband laughed hysterically at me and said I am going to end up with the largest pill box on the planet. (Thank YOU honey!)

So after this week, I now have all sorts of holes in my February calendar filled. In addition to the endocrinologist, I had to add other appointments and change some things. I have two doctor appointments, dentist, and a neck ultrasound. I was admiring the emptiness of my calendar for the month. I believe there is still hope of March but April, May and July now have appointments already. Actually next week I do not have a single doctor appointment - but I think my husband does and I have to drive him (sigh). And to make up for it the following week I have two and an MRI.

So the moral is be careful of what you wish for because you might get it.

Now a brief note on my husband. He got a benign pathology report yesterday from his surgery. No sign of any additional cancer which means, regular colonoscopies but no further surgery or other treatment. Big giant sigh of relief here.


Barbara LuCore said...

I'm so glad your husbands report showed the tumor was benign!

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