Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Lit Up"

Today has been a long day. We spent 3 hours at the hospital, not including driving time. We received a lot of information today. Dr. Estrada, the nuclear medicine physician, thought Emory's cancer was "interesting". So far we have "oddball" and "interesting". I don't think it's the right kind of interesting though. One thing that hit me was he said "A cancer diagnosis is for the rest of your life." Emory will continue to have follow up treatment. We'll always be on the look out for it. I really don't like it hanging over our heads. But we have faith that if we stay the course the doctors set- things will work out.

Emory didn't feel well during the scan. He had to lie very still for a half hour while they scanned and took pictures. He only "lit up" where his thyroid was so that means the cancer hasn't spread at this time. This isn't a guarantee it won't in the future but hopefully with the RAI - it will be wiped out. We met with Bob Anger (no joke on the name) who was the radiation safety specialist to go over all the precautions. After that it was time for the radioactive iodine. We all walked into the "Hot room" as they called it. Gerald, the nuclear medicine lab technician (aka Jerry Lewis from yesterday) brought the RAI out in a lead container (to protect us) with a tube in it of the RAI. Emory had to drink the poison up through a straw. It was all surreal and fast. As we stood up to go - he set off the radioactive alarm. They said "yup - you're putting off radiation."

Finally Emory is able to eat regular food! He was so excited to have some milk. It will be tons easier to fix food now. He goes back for a scan next Friday. And then in a year he has to do this all over again. In the meantime he will be seeing Dr. Meacham - the endocrinologist - regularly for blood work and check ups - about every 6 to 8 weeks. We also learned it will take 6 to 8 weeks for the thyroid replacement medication to be at an optimal level - so it will be awhile before he feels better. He is now in his 3 day seclusion from everyone. He then still has 4 more days after that to stay out of the public. He has to be careful in the next 40 days. If he went to the airport - he could set off the radioactive alarms there or they told us to carry a paper about his treatment because some police have radiation detectors in their cars and have pulled over people who have gone through treatment. Now that would be something to explain!

The girls are sad and miss their daddy. This morning they cried when we left because they knew they wouldn't get to see Emory for at least 3 or more days. They are staying with my family until they can come home. The good news it is only for a short time. I think this is enough info for now. I think I could go to sleep.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Glow little glow worm, Glimmer,Glimmer

Today was the first day for Emory's RAI (radioactive iodine) treatment. Now before I go into today .....let me tell you a little about the last 3 weeks. It has been a whirlwind for us. We just got through my dad's funeral and all the emotionality of it - then BAM! Here is the next month or so of your life and a list of all the things you need to do. We knew Emory needed treatment. We just didn't know how BAD he was going to feel. He had to become hypothyroid (I know - he doesn't even have a thyroid). The point of it - he was going to feel so tired and so foggy - but this would be great for the treatment. His diet was key to making the treatment a success. He needed to deprive his body of iodine so when he gets the RAI - any cancer or thyroid tissue left would gobble up the RAI - in hopes of killing any cancer left. We know the end of treatment is worth it and compared to so many other conditions and cancers - this will just be a small blip in our life (as quoted to us by the surgeon). We are grateful. So having said that - it still has been a lot for Emory to go through. Actually we all have gone through. The girls have just lost their grandpa and now they see their daddy really sick. And starting tomorrow they can't see him for several days.

Back to Emory's diet because it has consumed so much of my time. His diet requires no processed foods. Pretty easy you think. I think I cook from "scratch" - but in reality I don't. Anything that has an ingredient with salt - can't be used - not even chili powder! It's weird - Emory can have salt without iodine but not anything processed because it may contain salt with iodine so everything has to be made from scratch - the real way. I will say I have learned a lot - but much of it from the mistakes I made. Emory hasn't staved to death. He could have all the fresh vegetables and fruit he wanted. But he couldn't have dairy or soy. I made him homemade bread - it was actually good. The salsa was decent but I melted a spatula in hot oil making tortilla chips and ruined a whole crockpot of beans by oversalting it. We've had a lot of laughs in the midst of all this. We always like to see the dark, funny side of it. Like today - Emory said he should've walked around the airport setting off the alarms because of his RAI. Emory has felt so bad that he hasn't blogged or even sat and watched much of any TV! I joked with him he definitely doesn't over think things because he doesn't think much. Ha! This is how exhausted and foggy he is - he said I could drive to the hospital today. Emory DETESTS my driving! So you know how low things have sunk. One funny thing that happened last week - at least it's funny now because he's alive - is one morning I woke up and took my arm to hug him and his skin was COLD to the touch! I will say it really scared me but when I saw he was breathing I felt a little better but definitely creeped out. I knew he would feel cold but not actually cold to the touch. He has been sleeping in long johns, 2 shirts and wool socks. Plus he puts a fleece blanket close to his body and THEN all the covers on top! If you want to know something funny - ask Emory about the fly incident.

Back to today. We get escorted back to radiology by a man in a white lab coat. He reminded me of Jerry Lewis in the Nutty Professor. Anyways he was a little kooky but he made me laugh. Emory was sitting in a position where he couldn't see them get the RAI but I could. The workers were careful to stand behind the special shield so they would't be exposed to radation. They bring out a vial of the pills, carefully open it and then pour the pills into Emory's hand because they don't want to touch it. The pills looked like something out of a movie - they were bright blue and red. Emory took a sip of water and down they went. Now todays dose only has a half life of 13 hours so he can still be around us. Tomorrow is the BIGGY.

This is just a snipet of what's been going on. We've been joking if the cancer doesn't kill him the treatment will. It's been rough and he still has a ways to go. The doctor said that he might be feeling better by Memorial Day. We'll know more tomorrow - if he "Lights Up" on his scan- it will tell us whether he has any more cancer and the posibility of additional surgery.

To be continued............

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's Official!

Today we met with the endocrinologist. When Dr. Meacham walked in he said to Emory, "You're an Oddball." So it's official. He has an official diagnosis by a medical doctor. I know - we're all thinking the same thing - this isn't new information. But unfortunately he isn't referring to Emory's personality but to his pathology report. The good news is that he still has a really high cure rate. The bad news is he has to go through a bunch of gunk so it stays that way. We left the doctor's office with a list of all the steps and tests that will be happening over the next month. It was just a tad overwhelming (especially with all the other things that have been happening in our lives!) And the doctor kindly told Emory that he will feel pretty horrible going off his temporary replacement thyroid medication to prepare for the RAI (Radioactive Iodine) treatment. Plus he has to be on a low iodine diet for at least the next 2 weeks. So basically he gets to eat like a rabbit. So there you have it - in a nutshell. Maybe Emory will post later about all the steps and tests that will be happening.