So November 24th, 2008 was fast approaching and I was starting to get a little antsy. I remember going to bed the night before and not really being able to sleep. I tossed and turned, said a prayer or two (or a hundred) and then when I finally had to get up and leave I just kept saying "I don't wanna go, I don't wanna go". Can't it just go away on its own? Ha!! If only...
We get to the hospital and do all the preliminary stuff...check in, dress in flattering gown, hat and slippers, walk down to the OR where your team is waiting to put you to sleep...gulp...it's just routine right? They will go in there, remove cancer and thyroid, close me up, I go home in 2-3 days right??
That was the plan, but my 2 hour ROUTINE surgery turned into a 4 hour surgery and then when I came to they told me that the cancer had wrapped itself so tightly around my vocal chords that they had to scrape at them for a lot longer than they had anticipated so they might be shocked for a while. My throat hurt and I wasn't talking very well. My brother in law Josh actually told me later on that I sounded like Michael Jackson...great...! The doc said my voice should be back to normal within a few weeks...
I was horrified to look at myself in the mirror because I had visions in my mind of this horrible scar, but was pleasantly surprised when I finally got up the courage. That's not so bad I thought. It was super swollen but once that went down it would look pretty decent. PHEW!! But if the cancer was gone then it was totally worth it! Scars will fade, scars will fade...
I was really really looking forward to only staying in the hospital for a couple days and then going home to my babies. But that didn't happen...my calcium levels weren't staying where they should have been due to the fact that they had to remove 2 of my parathyroid glands and we had to wait for the other 2 glands to kick in and keep my calcium up. So, they put me on ridiculous amounts of pills and vitamin D to see if that would work...NOPE!
Minutes, hours, and DAYS passed and I was still in the hospital. Nurses were constantly in my room checking vitals and tapping my face looking for twitches which indicate calcium deficiency and when I twitched WOW, it was like it was Christmas for those girls. LOL. I was quickly becoming a local hospital celebrity! I came in known as the young mom who was diagnosed with cancer while pregnant...and I was now being flagged as the Calcium Deficient girl!! I remember waking up in the middle of the night one night with a panicky feeling and my fingers, feet and lips were tingling like nobody's business. I called for the nurses to come in and they tested my calcium again and it was at a dangerous level. Apparently you can go into seizures due to lack of calcium...who knew?? NOT ME!! I was at the dangerous seizure level and had to get hooked up to a calcium infusion through my IV.
Just when I thought I was dealing with enough on my plate, a couple of days after my surgery my surgeon came into my room to tell me that the pathology of my tumor came back and apparently the type of cancer I had was a tall cell variant of papillary thyroid cancer and may require a more aggressive treatment...the room started spinning again...WHAT?? This is getting worse?? I thought this was supposed to be ROUTINE??
When the surgical team left my room I grabbed my laptop and googled (bad idea people). I freaked out and called Mike and him and Deb came to my rescue once again to calm me down. In my mind all I could think of was "I'm going to die". Panic was setting in and I couldn't stop crying!! How many more tears can I possibly shed? It was becoming exhausting! Eventually I went to sleep and tried to push all negativity out of my mind...that didn't happen.
Between the calcium issue and now this different variant of cancer I was now peaking the interest of the grand poobah of Endocrinologists. I had heard his name floating around between doctors and nurses and finally he came into my room with a big smile and says to me "so you're the one causing all the problems". EXCELLENT bedside manner! He eased my mind more than anyone about what was going on and told me that I was now officially one of his patients and he was going to take care of me. Listening to this guy talk to his students was like watching an episode of House! It was awesome. He would stand outside my door and throw scenarios out at them and want quick responses and it was pretty entertaining listening to them scramble for th right answer! The nurses told me that I was very lucky to have him in my court so that was very reassuring!!
Next day I saw one of the surgeons again and I told him that they had freaked me out the day before. He apologized and told me that they didn't mean to do that and that my survival rate was still really really good. It just means that it MAY need additional treatment...OK, back to breathing...!
My kids...I couldn't wait to see them but was also afraid of what they were going to think about Mommy's scar and being hooked up to machines. Of course they were apprehensive about touching me when they saw me and that broke my heart. It was like Rachel was looking at me like I was a stranger...but I told them I was ok and that I would be home soon. To this day if Rachel sees a hospital she will say "Mommy, hospital, doctor...OWWEEEE"! Mike would bring Caleb in to see me so I could still have some one on one time with him since I was feeling like the WORST mother ever not being with my newborn baby. The nurses were in love with him and would give Mike "the look" if he dared walk into the unit without a baby seat. Too funny. I did have the best nurses.
My blood was taken at least twice a day to check calcium levels and everytime the results came back we were all hoping for good news. I was in the hospital for 8 days when they finally said they were going to send me home even though I was only at the bottom level of OK for calcium. Good enough for me...I'm outta here. They send me home with calcium supplements up the ying yang and told me that if I started to tingle to get back to the hospital.
I was packed and ready so fast and then of course had to wait forever for the doctor's to do their rounds and discharge me. Then my wonderful brother in law Paul came to get me and take me home to recover....
(I apologize for the length of some of these posts, I am just trying to catch up with a lot of the major stuff so I can move onto more recent things)