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 (www.thyca.org) 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.