Monday, May 07, 2007

Wishing and Hoping and Thinking and Praying

The surgeon was a pretty nice guy. He told me that he will be doing a complete thyroidectomy, which I kind of knew he would. He also went through all the things that he would be doing to me, most of which I knew from my researching. He did make clear that it is possible that he could damage the nerves to my vocal chords and make me permanently hoarse as well as saying that it is entirely possible that the 'lentil bean' sized para-thyroids will stop working completely as they hate being touched, so I will have to take calcium for the rest of my big deal, really. Oh, and the other thing he was 'pleased' to tell me was that he is a cosmetic surgeon so he would do his best to give me a tidy scar. OK then...

He couldn't clear up for me the most pressing thing though; whether or not I would have to have the radioactive iodine (RAI) directly after the op. Apparently, once he's cut the thyroid out, that's it. He sees me for a sign off a week later and discharges me into the care of my endocrinologist, who will give me the RAI. I love my endo but he's a bit of a scatterbrain. In a good way! He's the one who called me back, three weeks after signing me off for the gestational diabetes to say that he really wasn't happy with the enlarged thyroid and would like me to get it sonogrammed. Scatterbrained in a good way! So I emailed him and called him once I had my surgery date (15th June) to try and find out whether or not I need the RAI asap.

He called me from home (again) at 6:30 that night. During our conversation I told him that I was more upset about the fact that I would have to give up nursing than the fact I had cancer. It's true! I think I understand why too. I have another focus! Better to be focussed on the giving up nursing than the fact I have cancer; one makes me angry, the other one would stop me being able to function. Anyway, he said that I didn't have to have the RAI immediately (which would be 4-6 weeks post op) as the carcinoma was so small and probably encapsulated, though they would know more when they got the pathology back from it. In fact, he said that there was some debate in the endocrine community as to whether someone with my history actually needs the RAI at all. That said, having it makes the observation of me easier post-operatively, so I will probably have it when Gabe's finished nursing, hopefully by the end of the year.

It was like letting go of a breath I'd been holding for two weeks. At the end of the day, I'm realistic. Gabriel is probably going to be my last one. Although I'm mentally a lot stronger than when I had Imogen, the feelings I had when she wouldn't latch, especially after having the emergency caesarean, haunt me even now. To have had to have given up with Gabe before he was ready would have been my body failing me yet again and I'm not sure what that would have done to my mental health, especially as I am unlikely to be able to assuage that guilt with another baby. So to be told that I don't need to is an immense relief.

However, there is a small possibility that the tumour isn't encapsulated. This basically means that the cells could be anywhere in my body and, if that's the case, then I will need the RAI pretty quickly. I've been in the tiny percentage so far. I don't feel as if I'm going to be in the tinier percentage! But, if it happens, it happens. I have, frozen, one bottle of expressed milk a day for about a month, so it doesn't have to finish immediately. I'm comfortable with that. That's the way the cookie crumbles.

After that, I shall be cancer free. I will have to take thyroid hormone for the rest of my life and probably calcium, so if civilisation goes to the dogs in the next 20 years, I will be up the effluent creek without the requisite boat moving equipment. But, hey, there will be more problems to cope with than me dying! We had lunch with my friend Ellen yesterday and she is on Synthroid (artificial thyroid hormone), low dosage chemotherapy for her rheumatoid arthritis and an insulin pump for her Type 1 diabetes. She leads a full and active life and has two beautiful girls. I think if she can do it, so can I!