Second Verse, Same as the First! (Thyrogen Injections and Radiation)

Or in this case, second dose. My second dose of Thyrogen was as uneventful as the first, in, slight pinch, out. I'm actually rather impressed with the efficiency of my last few doctor/hospital visits. Considering I had to sign over all my viable organs just to get an appointment.

Anyway, today I had my radiation and that was NOT the same as the first. No hazmat suits or long waits in scary cold hallways (helped not being hypo this time). I waited maybe half an hour and then they just handed me this rather pretty little glass bottle with rather pretty little purple pills inside (4 of them) and a bottle of water. No isolating me in a room with danger signs and making me wait another hour. And I got to be around people afterward. Although it is fun to chase your little sister around telling her you are going to zap her with radiation. Find the fun in cancer when you can. And when you can't.... make low-iodine brownies (YUM!). Yes, you even get to EAT after radiation this time!

As far as I can tell I am not experiencing any adverse side-effects this go-around. Though I was tired enough to take a three-hour nap, but that could be a number of factors, not the least being this blessed rain!

My mother is a bit anxious about her biopsy and I don't blame her. No one I know is too keen on being jabbed with giant needles. But again, that was a relatively easy procedure. Just a jab and then the local anesthetic kicks in. Still, I will be going with her, and if you have a friend or family going through something similar, keep in mind that this person is probably quite scares and that even the offer of going will mean worlds to them. My dad is going with me to my scan tomorrow. He will have to sit in the waiting room the entire time, but it means a lot just knowing he is out there supporting me. Cancer is certainly not unique, but there's nothing like it for making you feel alone.

Back to my mom: out of nervousness she has been asking me to explain the procedure in detail repeatedly, a comfort missing when I went through this process and the whole reason I started this crazy blog. If you want to know more about my experience of the biopsy, click here. She also asked me about how to feel or see your nodules, or in other words HOW TO CHECK YOUR NECK.

There are two sad and honest truths here. One: Even with a professional checking my neck, I had no idea what to expect or how to recognize that something was wrong. When she pressed against my nodules, I thought it felt exactly like a zit. Maybe a bad zit, but a zit. Two: My nodules were big enough that you could see them, but I still didn't notice. Look closely at my wedding photo above. Now I cannot help but see the strange bulge at the front of my throat, kind of like an Adam's apple. It is not there anymore. But I didn't think much of it at the time, just that my throat was putting on weight with the rest of me or some such nonsensical thought of dismissal. And nobody else noticed it either.

So it's not as easy as it sounds. There may be no signs or symptoms, or if you are like me and completely dense about your body, you may not recognize the signs and symptoms when they present themselves. If you feel around and there is a sore lump in your neck, that is a good indicator that you need a throat sonogram. But your best bet is to have a doctor check your neck for you. And have them do a blood test. Not one or the other, but both. My blood test (specifically FOR thyroid problems) was negative a mere six months before my  mother-in-law (obviously the superior doctor) discovered my nodules.

And one last tangent while I am on the subject of the medical industry. This one is a WARNING. Apparently, even if you get one or two FREE annual checkups a year through your insurance, your doctor could still try to scam you out of money! This is what happened to my dad: He went in for his "free" checkup and they did the usual poke and prod and then asked him some questions.

Now this is where my dad made a fatal error: he ANSWERED the questions. The doctor asked him about his CURRENT medications and health status and such and in ANSWERING my dad was somehow soliciting additional advice outside the parameters of a normal checkup (normal apparently meaning you icily stare your doctor down and plead the fifth). The doctor wrote up these questions as extra expenses and then my dad was charged an additional $115 for the visit, leaving the insurance company to cover $80 and my dad with a surprise $35 bill (not good for anyone when you consider the economy and national debt). For nothing. For nodding yes or no in response to questions. Good grief American Health Care, what is with you??!

I guess I will miss it when Albert Brooks' 2030 predictions come true and a consultation costs $2000. At which point I fully expect we will all walk around in our bathrobes singing "I am Henery the Eighth, I am"....

REVISION: There were some side-effects from the smaller dose of radiation. The day after my second injection, I experienced nausea, diarrhea, and headache, but they were mild compared to the side effects of the larger dose and did not last more than a few hours.

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