Sunday, August 22, 2010

The one where I drill a hole in my head.


If your response to watching the Tin Man perform horrific surgery on Santa Claus, while Billy Mays tries to sell him a magic lamp, is to see how long you can balance a book on your head...perhaps you need to seek another line of work.

I'm 12 days into the LID diet while im typing this, and unfortunately there may be no end in sight. As the title implies, I screwed up. I have been taking a medication called Liothyronine which is a thyroid hormone. As far as i know, its different from the hormone that I will take regularly (Synthroid) once i get past the RAI. (In case you are just joining us, RAI=Radioactive Iodine.) Im pretty sure my doc told me that the Liothyronine is much faster acting, and to be used as a way to alleviate some of the symptoms that i would have after going off my main hormone. That should mean it gets in and out of my system faster right? That's how i understood it anyway, i could be wrong about it. Geeze, hows that for an opening paragraph? Im sure it was both compelling AND rich, right? Ugh.

Are you still with me?

Good. Anyway, my stupid rookie cancer patient mistake came when I discovered that I was supposed to stop taking it when I started my diet and as I said at the beginning, I'm 12 days into it. I don't know how far it will set me back but I feel like a total dweeb for screwing that up. I'm supposed to take a blood test later this week, so ill be able to see what the damage was.

What a total dweeb might look like.

As far as the diet goes, I'm getting better at it. As in I'm getting better at figuring out how to make up some fried goodies to eat. I'll expound on that more in a minute, but first I need to crack open my dome and let out some of the things that have been swirling around in there.

I want some of you to try to balance a book on your noggin' while you read this...

Look, I know that I should be taking the opportunity to broaden my culinary horizons by trying out new foods. Bravely sailing my grocery cart into the uncharted aisles of the produce section or some such nonsense, but let's get real for a moment. Let's all remember that I've gone through a relatively crappy couple of months. I'm sorry, but at this point, I don't really need or want to embrace another major change in my life. It probably sounds like I am whining and overreacting a little bit and that might prove to be true, but at this point these are the feelings I have. Rationally, I know that the diet is only temporary and that soon enough I'll be able to drown myself in delicious cheeseburgers, or slide down a smokey river of brisket and sausage and barbecue sauce if I want. However, it seems like one more stupid thing I have to and deal with, and frankly, I'm running out of patience and energy for this shit. (Pardon my fran├žais)

It's been hard enough coming to terms with my cancer and the effects it has had on my life in the past and how it will continue to effect me in the future. Making approximations of familiar foods keeps me happy. Making my house smell like fried potatoes is not only fun, but helps to keep that little Maslow button in my brain pushed. Once I put some distance between me and my surgery and recovery, ill try to get back into a regular diet and exercise. I feel like i have to because, I've recently read that my type of cancer recurs in 20%-30% of folks who get it once. That's terrifying to me. (Sigh) I currently have youth on my side even though the lease is running out on it. I still have time to rectify most of my lifestyle mistakes. It's hard though, to suddenly change gears in the middle of a life that is already on cruise control. In previous posts I've mentioned the Body For Life diet and i plan to return to it once I'm able. In fact, I'm kind of excited about it because I anticipate much better results once my hormone situation is back on track.

In a lot of ways I am still trying to wrap my noodle around my current situation. It has been both good and bad talking to other Thyca survivors/patients. It's been good because you finally realize that there actually other people who have been through what you are going through, people who can validate your feelings, both physical and emotional. If you are a newly diagnosed patient, or if you are a family member of one, please seek out as much help like this as possible. I know it sounds cliche, and it is, but other patients are your best resource as far as what to expect on your road ahead. Those of you who have helped me, and manage to read this, I want to say thanks to you. You have been great and I hope one day to pay forward the help and support and knowledge that you have given me.

On the other hand, it's been scary to talk to these people because I am seeing for the first time just how big a deal this thyroid cancer thing really is. Its like my job.

Er, that sounded bad. let me explain.

For those of you who don't know, I work at a local television station and I told some of the folks that I work with that it's like the first time you realize that hundreds of thousands of people see the work we do. That the shows we do actually manage to escape outside of the walls of our building. Every time I screw up, a boat load of people see it. If I stop to think about that, it can be paralyzing. That's the kind of thing I felt when I realized how widespread thyroid cancer is. It suddenly ceased being a local/nick problem and I felt simultaneously empowered with new and better information yet, had become much smaller, and in some ways much more powerless against such a beast. I can only imagine how other folks with worse cancers handle this. Its hard to imagine that you can beat such an animal when so many others have struggled so greatly with it.


Even Debbie Downer thinks I need to lighten up.

You know, after re-reading that last paragraph it seems like I might be a little defeated, but I'm trying to keep my head up. Despite the severity of my cancer, I still have a great prognosis. My doctors say that there is no reason that I shouldn't recover fully from this and and at this point, I have to trust them. I have to trust their remedies and solutions to my particular problems. I have to keep in mind that for as much that has gone wrong, there has been a lot that has gone right for me:

The surgery went fairly well. There were some complications and the recovery was hard but considering the complexity and sheer length of the surgery I say it was a win.

I still have all my structures and functions that run through my neck. I can shrug my shoulders and my face doesn't look like Sloth from "The Goonies. That means no nerve damage. Yay for not looking like Sloth.

I can still talk. This is a biggie, considering that my right vocal chord was encased in tumor. (i read the surgical notes the other day, and that's the word he used.) It has been a long time coming back, but I can say that I have seen great improvement in the last couple of days. I finally sound a little more like myself.

A large part of the cancer is gone. Hopefully. My doc says that he is going to hit me with a fairly heavy dose of RAI which will hopefully (again) kill of the rest of my thyroid tissue/cancer in my body. There's a lot of hope goin on here.

I have a great support system. This is arguably the best thing for a cancer patient to have, and I'm blessed. I have had the greatest support from friends and family. I get a little overwhelemed when i think about it too much. Once again, to to all of you I offer an extremely heart felt thanks. I know it seems like I do this at the end of every blog post, but I cant say it enough.

Wow, this post really got away from where I wanted to go....


Enough said.

Alrighty then, now that I got all that off my plate I feel better. I was planning on making this a post about the ways I've discovered to make and eat LID safe junkfood, but it turned into this. I'll post that next time.


  1. Nick,

    Owch with the liothyronine thing. I was actually taking that before I started my LID and had to stop...but the good news is at least it does leave your system way faster than Synthroid so you might not be set back too bad.

    Have you talked to your doctor about it yet? Cuz there's a drug called Thyrogen that they sometimes give people before RAI treatments or scans so they don't have to go off their meds at all. They just inject you with it (two shots in the butt!) a few days before RAI and for some reason that I still don't understand it makes up for not being off of synthroid/liothyronine for two weeks. Last I heard they might actually be running low and only giving it to certain types of patients and it's kind of expensive but it might be worth asking your doctor about.

    I hate being on this diet for extra-long too. But at least we'll be better cooks, no?

    - RG

  2. Hey there, the good news is that i talked to him and he thinks that i will be ok. As of right now, he didnt tell me to change my RAI date. We'll see.

    We talked about the thyrogen route, but for some reason my doc decided against it. I dont know exactly why. My impression is that it had to do with the severity of my cancer, but that might be wrong. Anyway, he did say that there is a shortage of it, and im not getting it.

    As far as being a better cook goes, i think thats debatable. So far ive basically spent alot of energy and time trying to figure how to fry everything, which as you know has been met with varying success. Those biscuits you mentioned on facebook sounded tasty! Anyway, thanks again and i hope you get good news from the PET scan.

  3. Thanks! The biscuit recipe is on page 98 of the Thyca cookbook. They were pretty easy even for someone as culinary-challenged as me and they taste pretty good :)

    And I'm glad your RAI date is set. The sooner you get cheeseburgers again, the better.