If you took a look at my calendar over the past six or seven months, and if for your viewing pleasure I color-coded every appointment that was health-care related — let’s say green — you’d see that the primary-care physician appointments, the endocrinologist visits, the lab visits, the hospital stays and ultrasounds and biopsies, voice therapy appointments, otolaryngologist vists, dental visits, and ophthalmologist exams…
Well, it would basically look like a pool table. Look at mid-May, however. Look into mid- to late June and on through July and August. There’s nothing there. Well, little to no green. A few isolated cells, but that’s it. There’s a six-month routine follow-up with the surgeon who performed my thyroidectomy, as well as a follow-up with the nuclear medicine doctor who oversaw my radioactive iodine therapy as part of the thyroid cancer treatment.
While important, these appointments are mostly medically perfunctory.
In fact, this past Monday I visited my endocrinologist for my three-month checkup. (These visits, which are recommended every three months, are for me becoming more like every-four-month checkups; they go so well because I’m doing so well with my self-management that we keep including more time between visits. A good thing!)
For the past three years, my endocrinologist has always been my diabetes guy. With the removal of my thyroid, however, and the transition to synthetic thyroid hormone pills that I have to take daily, my endo is becoming my everything guy, because he’s now my thyroid — or, rather, my I-don’t-have-a-thyroid — guy.
And that’s what happens at a doctor visit that used to be all about diabetes. This time we did the routine diabetes-visit things: looked at my HbA1c, which actually dropped from 7.0 to 6.6; talked about my blood glucose levels and if I’d had any lows and what those feel like when they’re coming on; he examined my feet and looked at my insulin pump infusion set sites.
And so on, and so on.
But he focused more on the lab results from my recent blood work. Those lab results were all pretty danged stellar given what they’d been a month or two ago. My TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) level, which was at 80 prior to my radioactive iodine therapy six weeks ago (normal is usually less than 3), was now at 0.36. Look at that! There’s a decimal point there. See it? Point three six.
We also talked about how I felt, because hypothyroidism, which I went deeply into before the RAI, can trigger anxiety and depression. I’ve had nothing but blue skies these past few weeks. It’s wonderful. There’s a lot to be said for feeling physically and mentally healthy at the same time
So, yes, May is turning out to be the first in many, many months when I feel myself again, when I have energy, when I start to realize all of the little things I so enjoy that I’d simply stopped enjoying during the thyroid-cancer stuff.
Hello summertime (with a nod to diabetes, which keeps on truckin’, no matter what). Goodbye to papillary thyroid carcinoma and all its post-thyroidectomy travails.