Saturday, February 28, 2009

I'm home

I guess I've been home for about 26 hours. Sort of lost track of time. Shelly just made another one of her very fine lasagna's. Memaw and Pepaw took the girls last evening as I was checking out of the hospital. They just dropped them back off. Also, Tammy and her daughter Michaela (and a friend) stopped by too. Anyway, I'm more out of it today than yesterday. In case I don't update again until Monday, I go get the stitches out this Friday and at the same time will go over the full pathology report. More later...

Friday, February 27, 2009

I'm awake

I tell you. The hardest part is coming out of anesthesia. I guess I kept wiggling so much I about fell out of bed. I just kept hearng them say, "Now stop it. You're only making the pain worse."

I'm thankful for those who were here. I knew I wouldn't be much company but didn't know I would be barely possible to even acknowledge your presence.

Calcium levels are fine so I should be going home this afternoon. This just a guess as the doctor hasn't been in yet.

Clarion North is the best hospital in the world. Lisa Miller said I wasn't going to a hospital but rather a hotel. She's about right.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Friends and Family

Things happened really fast when we got to the hospital. We were there only 45 minutes before they were wheeling him into surgery. That's when things slowed down - at least for all of us waiting. Dr. Goldenberg said the surgery went well. We will know more when we return to him in a little over a week with the pathology report. Emory is really tired so we didn't get to see him until 5:00pm or later. We then went and fed the girls and then came back to the hospital to say goodnight. He just wanted to sleep. We'll know tomorrow if he is able to come home or needs to stay another night.

As Emory and I go through our journey of life - we continue to grow and learn - especially about how to be a better friend. We are taught this by how our friends treat us. We know it's not always easy to know what to say or do. We've been in the same situations with others - we didn't know what to say or do. We have been so blessed and amazed at how you all have comforted and encouraged us. A kind word, a card, a phone call, a hug, a prayer - these things have helped so much.

Thank you from all of us.


I just wanted to make sure I knew how to post. It will probaby be late evening before we get home from the hospital and I can post.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

All the kids from Shelly's side...

We have this pyramid picture from when the girls were 16 months old and one taken last week.

The surgery time is set: 2:30 PM on Thursday

Hmmm. That arbitrary rule to not eat after midnight the day before surgery is a little more significant now that I learned my surgery time is in the afternoon. Anyone who knows me knows how much I like my breakfast and how I don't normally eat past 8PM. Oh well, I guess I can skip a few meals.

The surgery can take up to 2 hours. My guess was that it would take no more than 30 minutes since it is such an "easy" surgery. See the post from 2/5 if that didn't make you chuckle.

So, I have to be there at 12:30 for the 2 hours of prep before I get the laughing gas. Then 2 hours in surgery. Then 2 hours to wake up. I'll be alert in time to tell the girls good night.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I'm not ready for this!

These are old pictures. I am posting them here to show my niece Brittany what they look like to see if they will be suitable for her wedding. Brittany was in our wedding in 1995 and she is returning the favor by asking our girls to be a part of her wedding.
Edit: Anyone seeing this and then subsequently talking to the girls, please do not say anything about them being in a wedding. The result would be a constant hounding of "When is the day coming?" or one of a 100 different ways they would annoy us for the next several months. Thanks.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The platform swing in action

(I've learned my lesson: Don't post about something you are going to do. Wait until it is over. I never made it to the library with either one of the girls.)

I had a most wonder piece of cheesecake this weekend. Okay, okay. It was more than one piece and less than four. The Cheesecake Factory's cheesecake is almost as good as what Shelly procured for me from her good friend at the school where she works.

It is AMAZING what a few minutes on this swing does for Riley. Amazing. Sidney loves it too, but Riley needs it. I feel so bad that it took a year to get it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The first of a few make-up postings

What a week? It went fast.

Tuesday evening was spent responding to an email from a friend (Pam; her link is to the right). She did some research on thyroid cancer and radiation exposure in the military and found this organization: National Association of Atomic Verterans.

I then spent some time in research and joining this group. It is mainly for the unfortunate souls involved with nuclear weapons testing, but they recognize the risks involved for those of us in the nuclear power program. Since I have thyroid cancer and since 85% of the cases of thyroid cancer are linked with radiation exposure, I thought it was worth the effort to learn more.

Well, I'm off to take the girls to the library one at a time here soon. It's a lot of extra driving, but so worth it to get them separated. We really haven't separated them as much as we should for one-on-one time with me, but when we do the effects are amazing. They do frequently get separated when Riley is off to therapy, but that's when I'm at work and it is always the same scenario: Riley is at therapy and Sidney is with Aunt Kim or Aunt Rachel. When they are together they are constantly in competition for attention. Anyone with more than one kid can relate to this but when with twins it is downright maddening.

That reminds me of this recent example: Several weeks ago Riley had a cold and Sidney didn't. After our normal night time routine (brush teeth, floss, read one story apiece, and prayer) Sidney remained sprawled out on the bed crying. Once we finally realized why she was upset we didn't know whether to laugh or cry with her (out of exasperation on our part). Turns out I didn't pray for her to feel better. What?! Being the sarcastic person that I am, I prayed for her to get sick soon and then said, "There I prayed for you. Now get to bed!" (Lest you think I'm horrible, it always happens anyway after one or the other gets sick, so does the other. I only asked for it to happen soon.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Feeling better; now in wait mode

Did I tell you I have to wait an extra week (or is it two?) because my surgeon is going on vacation? I didn't have a choice anyway but I guess it is good that I'm not his last surgery before vacation. You know how you get at work during the last few hours or days before a retreat? I'm glad I'm not that final patient. I use the same logic when I get my car worked on, even if it is just an oil change. Never a Monday or Friday.

Likewise, I didn't want to be the first patient after his return, so I chose Thursday. The surgeon does surgies on Wednesday and Thursday only so I elected to wait the extra day. Plus, Shelly works Wednesday's and is off on Thursday's. See how thoughtful I am?

16 days and counting.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Should have done this a year ago

I made mention of finally getting the platform swing up last weekend. It's a lot of fun, and yes, it holds me!

Here are just a few photos I took yesterday. I had the camera set up to take a picture every second and then later increased it to two seconds. No flash could keep up with that so I increased the ISO to 800. The results are quit grainy photos. Also, the focusing couldn't keep up as I had it set, but I think there is a better auto focus setting I can use. I will try again soon.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Talk

I have to say, writing here has been cathardic. (Shelly has been wanting me to use that word in a sentence.)

Immediately after publishing yesterday's post, Dr. Meacham called. 7AM. It took me off guard and I forgot to ask about the 5 - 10% chance of these procedures not curing me - at least not directly. I told him about my biggest fear was that this isn't the only cancer; that if the radiation from the nuclear reactor was the cause then why would it only affect my thyroid. He told me I couldn't live with the what-ifs and that we would know more during and soon after the surgery. Then, in the years to come I will be monitored more closely than average. He took special note of my radiation exposure, stating that he hadn't realized that bit of history from my one (and only) office visit on 12/31/2008. It was very nice of him to have called.

Then, I get to work and before I even set all my stuff down my cubicle neighbor comes to tell me of her experience dealing with thyroid cancer from a couple years ago. The most encouraging part was her description of how much better she feels. It will take several months to get to that point, but that day is coming! I put in a good days work but it takes nearly a whole week for that one day.

Okay, the title of this post was The Talk so what does that mean?

Here's the conversation:
Emory: If the worst happens, do you think you would remarry?
Shelly: I don't want to talk about it.

Emory: But I want to.
Shelly: Okay.

Emory: {waiting}
Shelly: Yes, I suppose.

Emory: Would you stay here, in this house?
Shelly: We just put a lot of effort into getting the house to get it remodeled and I like the location, so yes, I think so.

Emory: Would he drive my car and keep it in good working order so it could be the girls' first car as we have discussed?
Shelly: That sounds like a good idea.

Emory: Would he use my golf clubs?
Shelly: No, he's left handed.

(This conversation never took place. It is a re-write of a joke I read in a popular magazine with the initials R. D.)

Friday, February 6, 2009

It's sinking in

Yesterday was a rough day. It's hard to focus on anything. The lack of being able to think straight was one of the reason's I sought medical help in the first place. Now it's at least twice as hard to focus.

Riley and Sidney are having a difficult time too. Riley is constantly talking about me and the cancer and Sidney is in denial. After building the snowman on Sunday and then (finally) finishing the platform swing a few hours later, she said "You don't look like you have cancer. You just played outside and finished the swing, so how can you?" It was a well thought out argument and was humorous at the time. However, after 4 more days she is sticking with it. She's praying that I won't go to the hospital. Riley's prayer is that I don't get cancer twice. Well -- isn't that great? One is praying that it will cure itself and I don't go to the hospital. The other is praying that if I have it now then at least don't get it again.

Shelly had a hard time yesterday as well, but I leave it up to her to share her thoughts.

Here's some specific things to pray for:
  • That I can do a decent job at work during this waiting period before surgery.
  • That I recover quickly since I have just enough vacation/sick time built up to see me through the typical recovery period.
  • That I don't get cancer twice (for Riley).
  • For the right things to say to comfort the girls.
  • For Shelly's continued strength.
  • That it isn't any worse than what they think.
That last one is my biggest fear. If my exposure to radiation from the nuclear reactor on the submarine is the cause, then did it only affect the cells of my thyroid? I find that hard to believe. How will I know one way or the other, or is that too much to ask?

If you took the time to read this far then I love you. If not then I like you but you'll not know it.

- Emory

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tuesday's visit with the surgeon

The visit went well with Dr. Goldenberg, the surgeon who will be performing the thyroidectomy. Shelly went with me to ensure all the right questions were asked. One such question put the surgeon on the defense: "So, this is an easy surgery then?" to which he replied, "Yep, any old lay person could do it." It was a tense couple of minutes as we were trying to decide if it really offended him. It was a weird and different place for me since it is me who normally has the foot-in-mouth disease. Of course any old lay person would realize the real intent of the question was to find out how comfortable he was with the surgery. In the end, we left with these main two comforting thoughts:
  1. Dr. Goldenberg does 3 or 4 of these per week and has been doing it for 20 years.
  2. The pain and recovery will be a breeze compared to the tonsillectomy and UPPP surgery that I had in September, 2006.

The hospital will be Clarion North and the date is set for 2/26. The time of day is unknown until 2/24. Assuming everything goes as planned, I will be in for one night and two days. The recovery period is up to two weeks, or less if I feel fine after a week.

The complete cure rate is 90 to 95%. We failed to ask what happens to the other 5 to 10%. Does it mean there's a chance it has spread and therefore this is only a partial cure? I will be calling Dr. Meacham to get a better idea of this and a few other questions. He is the one who decided the bloodwork, ultrasound, and FNA tests were needed.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Taking time to stop and smell the --- snow.

Here's the first problem with a blog. How do you travel back in time?

On Sunday (2/1) the girls went out with me to feed and water Oscar. An hour or two later (time means nothing when you're having this much fun) we had "Frosty." I know - what an original name.

(That's lens flare between the mouth and nose, and near the hat. Oops.)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Getting Up To Speed

Where to start?

I'll cut to the chase and tell you I have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. It is a highly praised cancer. Among it's wonderful attributes are the following:
  • If you've got to get cancer, this is the one to get!
  • The chances are extremely high for full recovery.
  • There's no physical side effects to the treatment. E.g., no (additional) hair loss, etc.
Actually, I guess the list stops there. And - I know - according the theory of relativity I do have it good. But it's still cancer and it's a bit hard to see just the positives when you are right in the middle of it. It is extremely hard for the girls to see that anything is wrong. Shelly is staying strong and positive, which helps a lot.

Here is the time line of events leading up to this point. I always wanted to create a blog for the family, but really, did it have to come to this? To be sure, this blog will continue after this little ordeal is behind us. I love reading other people's blogs, so now I will return the favor.

I was extremely tired after running the mini marathon in 2008. Actually the tiredness started right after construction on the house ended and training began. But, I pushed through the training and ran/walked it in the decent time of 2:23 and some odd seconds. After the race I ran out of motivation to keep exercising. I then realized how tired I was. I went to the doctor and some blood work revealed that I had very low testosterone. Fine. More medicine and the problem is solved, right? Wrong. The meds worked to a certain degree but the medicine was not responding as expected, prompting Dr. Watt to send me to a specialist. The time now is around September/October. After several weeks, the specialist called to set an appointment for the beginning of December, I believe. A few days before the appointment the office called to say my appointment was postponed indefinitely. (I don't know the details but it turns out the specialist was dealing with his own serious situation.) With a last moments notice, I was scheduled to see a different specialist in the same office on 12/31/2008. Finally, I'm in.

During that visit which I thought would only take about an hour out of my day, I had so much blood drawn for tests that it altered my donation availability. For another test that day, I went to another location and had an ultrasound on my throat. I didn't know they could do that. Those results came back to the specialist and they called me to schedule a FNA biopsy for 1/23/2009. The FNA stands for Fine Needle Asperation, and let me tell you, there's nothing Fine about it. Okay, it's not that bad unless you're scared of needles. Luckily I'm not, but it did hurt for a couple days.

I must admit that I'm pretty naive. None of that that I just described clued me in to the possibility of them doing this for anything other that just ruling out a malignant tumor. The doctor who performed the FNA came back in to the room to describe the preliminary results. I recall hearing the word "suspicious" but, hey, that's just the preliminary results. And "suspicious" isn't a real medical term is it? Yep, it is. I had a feeling something wasn't right by her tone but I did the manly thing and put that box right back on the shelf and got down the get-on-with-my-day box. We had our friend Tammy and her daughter coming to visit and I had to get Riley's swing built. It's been a year and I need to get it done already.

Last Monday, the first day the official results could come in, came and went. Tuesday I woke up to a horrible cold and ended up staying home from work. I later decided that turned out to be a blessing when we got "the call to change our lives."

I will be focusing on how I feel, without the constant apology to those who have it worse - it is to be understood. But please let it be known that I sincerely understand that others suffer a worse fate and suffer more on a daily basis as they receive treatments. I will be linking to some of these blogs of which I am aware. Funny thing is is that they in turn realize that they have it good compared to others. It is life's theory of relativity in action.

The journey down this fork in the road begins, and you are welcome to travel it with me and my family.

Thank you and God Bless You for your prayers on our behalf.