The Prize at the End of The Cancer

So…all I could see was the darkness.  After spending five days alone at Mothah’s, watching television talk show’s and talking on the phone, and showering non-stop to get the radioactive sweats off of me, I left and drove back to Emory for another body scan.  Along the hour’s drive, I had a melt down.  One thing I failed to mention in my previous post is that during my hypothyroid state, my paranoia made me borderline on the ridiculous….perhaps lean towards the psychotic…. I am quite sure that my family would say that there was no perhaps about it! I was bat shit crazy there for a few minutes.   I could not see this then, of course.  I would purposely listen to songs in the car that would make me think of things that would bring me to tears. Now, why I would do that to myself is the million dollar question,  but it made total sense to me at the time.  So, I was driving up I-20, listening to one of my favorites: Mr. Brightside by The Killers…..This song made me think about how after I was dead, JC would be dating someone else….if you know the song, then you can piece together the rest of this scenario.  It was complete and total bat shit crazy at it’s very best.  So, I cried my way to Emory.  By the time I got there, I was a hysterical mess.  Remember, I was about 8-10 weeks post-op, having had absolutely no thyroid medication….my TSH was sky high.  I was like a time bomb waiting to go off at any second.  When I walked down the hall in the hospital, I would walk right next to the wall–not because I needed it for physical support, but being out in the “air of the hallway” made my paranoia worse.  When I say I was bat shit crazy, PEOPLE, I am NOT joking.  They took me in to do the body scan and when it was over, they told me that there was something glowing on my head.  This was not good, they said.  They needed to scan again, they said.  I thought I was going to lose my shit,  I said.  I asked if I could see the scan, which I expected the answer to be hell no.  To my surprise, they let me.  I had to laugh.  The glowing thing was sticking straight out from my head.  What was I laughing at, they asked.  THAT IS SO OBVIOUSLY MY HAIR!!! I practically spat in the guy’s face.  “I’m sorry, ” I said, “But do you see a knife like protrusion sticking out from my head?” The technician did not find this the least bit amusing, and back into the scan I went.  I was sure to smooth my hair down to my head this time.  Sure enough,  guess who was right? Moi.  This time, the glowing strip was straight down on the side of my head, right where I had smoothed my hair.  I was sort of starting to get a big head.  If I could read a damn body scan–hell, I might ought to apply for a job in Nuclear Medicine!  So, the official ruling was that I had sweat so much that the RAI had pooled in a strip of my hair.  Clean scan.  This meant that I got to start taking Synthroid and get back to feeling normal (whatever that is!) again–until July, when I would have to do all of this yet again, for the massive therapeutic dose of RAI.

After a few weeks of taking the medication, I was able to get back on my feet and go back to work–teaching Art and French at St. Timothy School.  I taught Pre-K through 6th grade, and I loved it.  Unfortunately, in May, I was forced to have the world’s most heinous surgery ever.  I can assure you that this is a tale on it’s own, but I will say this:  I would not wish this upon my worst enemy, and if faced with the problem again, I would choose to bleed out.  That is all I will say about that now.  Those of you who know me, know. Those who don’t, can just wonder.   I am simply adding that to tell you that my life was in no way a piece of cake at this point in time.  We also decided to move….. Talk about crazy….

The time flew by and mid June came much faster than I wanted it to.  It was time to stop the Synthroid and start eating shitty rice cakes and natural peanut butter from Whole Foods, yet again…dammit.  This time, since school was out, we sent the kids to Mothah’s for a week.  JC and I had read up on RAI and discovered that if we stayed a certain distance from each other, we could stay in the same house.  I ran this by the doctor, who said YES, thank GOD.  This meant that I would not have to be quarantined in total isolation.  Emory did not run out of RAI this time.  Everything was much smoother, this time.  After it was all over….clean body scan!  I went back on Synthroid.  I did not know that it would take an act of God to regulate the Synthroid… I remained somewhat of an emotional basket case for a while.  A year went by.  The medication was still not regulated.  I did not feel like myself.  I was beginning to think that I may never feel like myself again, and I was just going to have to be okay with that.  I was alive.  That alone was enough.  I decided that if I couldn’t feel like myself, FINE.

The next part of the story should perhaps be called The Epilogue…..

*WARNING:  SOME OF THE FOLLOWING MAY BE TMI….just sayin’……if you cannot handle women’s health and pregnancy, perhaps you should exit and consider the above the end of the story.  For more adventurous readers, carry on….

It was time for my yearly OB-GYN appointment.  I loved my doctor.  We talked about the possibility of my birth control pills and the Synthroid not working well together.  We decided that I would stop taking the BCP and in a month come back for an IUD.  I was 36 years old.  JC and I had always talked about having more than 2 kids, but at this point, we really thought that was off the table.    So, I immediately stopped the pills and honestly did not give it a second thought.  I did tell JC about the plan, though–it was not a secret.  A couple of weeks went by–and I mean literally a couple, maybe 3 weeks….and I knew I was pregnant. I am that in tune with my body, but I did do 3 tests just to confirm…. The endocrinologist told us not to get all excited yet.  Too late!  He said that since I was a year out from having had the RAI, all was safe as far as that was concerned; however, my Synthroid was not yet regulated and it was all very iffy in the beginning…..  I had to have a neck ultrasound in my first trimester and the doctor discovered a couple of growing lymph nodes.  This, of course, scared the shit out of me.  Now, here I was pregnant, and having to have surgery.  We had to wait until the first trimester was over because I would have to be knocked out with the old twilight stuff.  It was the only anesthesia that would not hurt The Baby.  The doctor removed 13 lymph nodes–none cancerous, thank God.  My medication had to be kept at a lower level because I was pregnant.  I had zero energy.   I had to visit the perinatologist every other week for him to check The Baby’s thyroid.  I have a wonderful collection of 5 x 7 glossy photos of The Baby, in utero, as a result of these visits.

The Baby was not due until the middle of March 2008.  I was extremely uncomfortable.  It hurt to walk.  It hurt to breathe.  At one of my mid-February visits to Dr. Korotkin, he said he thought The Baby might weigh over 10 lbs! He was going to do an amnio to see if his little lungs were developed enough to induce.  HELL YES!  This nightmare was soon to be over, I remember thinking to myself.  I received a phone call telling me that  I was to report to Northside Hospital at 8:00am on February 28, 2008.  The induction would begin soon after, and since this was #3 for me, I was quite confident that it would be fast and The Baby would be in my arms by early afternoon.  WRONG.  Oh, how wrong I was. When the nurse came in to give me the epidural, a sensation of panic spread over me.  Mothah had told me that I would regret getting that damn tattoo on my lower back!  I had gotten it in San Franciso, in sobriety, and I had chosen that area of my body because I knew it could be easily covered up.  I had never heard the term tramp stamp….until about a week after we got home from San Fran! OMG.  My first tattoo…I was actually quite proud of it, was indeed, a tramp stamp.  It is not the kind that spreads the entire width of the back.  It is relatively small–the size of a silver dollar–under normal conditions. Now, it was about the size of a dessert plate.  I had clocked in at 225lbs the day before at the doctor’s office.  I had gained a whopping 85lbs.  I felt like complete trash, sitting up there, waiting for that epidural with my backside exposed and that tattoo hanging out.   I told the nurse that Mothah had told me I would regret that damn tattoo, and that right then, she was right.  The nurse started laughing and told me that mine was very minor compared to some that she had seen.  This made me feel a little better.  A little.

The  epidural did not work the way it had with Mini Me and The Middle Child.  It made me numb from my toes to my chin and I threw up intermittently all day long, which was lovely.  I felt like I was paralyzed.  Afternoon came and went and I was not even dilated half way.  SHIT!  I did not want The Baby to be born on February 29.  That would mean he would only have a birthday every 4 years! How would we ever explain that? Finally, around 11:00pm, I was 10cm dilated and ready to push.  The only problem was that I could not feel my legs at all.   In fact, I could not even hold one of my legs up by myself.  Hell, they weighed about 80 lbs each.  I pushed and pushed–or thought I did.   Finally, when midnight came and went, we decided that my in-law’s should take Mini Me and The Middle Child on home.  At 1:30am, the doctor decided, FINALLY,  that an emergency c-section was in order.  They wheeled me into an OR.  I was feeling enormous pressure on my lower back, and it was very painful-regardless of the fact that I was still numb from my toes to my chin.  The anesthesiologist was sitting on a stool up by my head.  I was begging him to knock me out.  He could not until The Baby was out, and unfortunately, The Baby was stuck.  It was starting to get a little chaotic in the OR.  The doctor got up on top of me, straddled me backwards, and was trying to pull The Baby out of the birth canal.  I was screaming.  The lights were bright.  It was a complete clusterfuck.  Why was I not surprised?  The doctor was calling in for back up….they were going to have to break my pelvis to get The Baby out, when we heard what sounded like a cork coming out of a bottle of champagne.  That was The Baby’s head popping out of the birth canal.  He looked like he had been in a bar-room brawl, but he was totally fine.  I was still screaming for the anesthesiologist to knock me out. “Don’t you want to hold The Baby first?” he said. “HELL NO! HE IS THE THIRD ONE! I WILL HOLD HIM LATER! KNOCK ME OUT PLEASE!!!” I screamed…..then all I saw was black.  Peace.

When all was said and done, I had lost over 2 liters of blood and they would not give me a transfusion.  I was at Northside for 5 days.  The Baby weighed in at 9lbs 3 oz–my biggest baby.  We named him Truman Hayes Boyanton.  His birthdate is February 29, 2008.  I got over my not wanting that to be his birthday.  He loves his birthday.  When everyone else his age is 100, he will only be 25.  He gets it.  I was a complete wreck for almost a year. My not holding him right after birth had zero affect on our bonding.  He was mine.    We moved when The Baby was 2 months old.  Moving does nothing to help with psycho.  It took me 2 years to lose the damn weight, and FINALLY, FINALLY, my thyroid meds regulated!!!! I have felt like myself for about 7 years now.  I told you….it took an act of God.

Protocol has changed for thyroid cancer patients, and after the 5 year mark, I have not had to have another body scan.  As long as my bloodwork comes back looking good, I get an ultrasound every year and I see my doctor every 6 months.  I have moved on.  I rarely even think about the cancer anymore.  What I like to think about it is this:  It was a terrible, scary time in my life,  but at the end of the cancer drama, I got a prize! A great big, bouncing baby boy prize, and I cannot imagine what life would be like without him.



6 thoughts on “The Prize at the End of The Cancer

  1. An incredible, and I don’t mean that in a ‘good’ way, experience you had to endure. You beat cancer with a stick and a f@ck off and that’s bad-ass. You’re incredible-and I DO mean that in a good way! As much as you had to endure I am so happy you conquered! Hugs and high fives, right here! PS-I think we’re neighbors…GA?

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