Sweating the Small Stuff

A few years back, prior to The Cancer, I had my thyroid ablated.  This involves taking a radiated iodine pill which adheres to and shrinks the thyroid gland.  This was to treat my Graves disease that had me sweating constantly, always tired and frustrated with my attempts at weight loss.  There’s nothing painful about the process, except the patient is required to be away from other people and animals for several days so that they are not accidentally radiated.  And it worked really well.  So well that the doctor didn’t believe me when a month after treatment I was telling him it was a success.  “You can’t be feeling any difference yet.”, was his reaction.  But I was cold.  And I was never cold.  I loved it.  There were a couple of side effects that surfaced later, but once my Synthroid was regulated, all was well.

I relate this story only to fill you in on how effing frustrated it is to now be sweating at the drop of a hat.  Because the Tamoxifen I take to lessen the chances of The Cancer returning.  It blocks estrogen production and (I thought) throws the patient into early menopause.  HA!  Joke’s on me.  It doesn’t throw the patient into early menopause, it just mimics the symptoms.  My body will go through menopause when it wants to and that isn’t going to happen any time soon.

I don’t know why, but I was so focused on the hot flashes, that I didn’t even look into some of the other side effects of the drug.  I’ve been feeling like crap lately.  Just generic crap.  So I thought this morning I would check into the side effects in a little more detail.  Low and behold, many of the things that have been bothering me can be side effects of the drug.

  • Weight gain.
  • Mood swings.
  • Depression.
  • Thinning hair.
  • Bone and joint pain.
  • Swelling of the legs.
  • Peeling/splitting/ridged nails.  (Mystery solved.  Anyone want a ton of nail products?)
  • A few more that are too gross to discuss in public.

Then I go about researching my Effexor side effects.  Effexor is the drug I take to keep from ruining every relationship I have.  Well, looky there!

  • Weight gain.  (Really?  Again?  C’mon!)
  • Changes in mood (supposedly for the better).
  • Swelling of the legs.
  • Bloating.
  • Respiratory issues.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Loss of strength.
  • Abnormal dreams.  (I don’t mind this one.  They’re very entertaining.)
  • Other gross things.

I’m not sure if knowing this makes me feel better about things.  Usually, knowing there’s a reason I’m feeling the way I am makes me feel better, but looking down the barrel of three more years (possibly eight since they now recommend ten years of therapy, instead of the previous five) of worsening side effects from this drug fills me with dread.

I’ve been hearing reports of women who’ve opted out of the post cancer drug regimen.  I have a friend who’s having her ovaries yanked so she doesn’t have to take it any more.  My oncologist gave me that option, too.  But I’m not looking to have any more surgeries, thank you.  The last two years have been enough for me.  We’ll be putting off any non-life-threatening procedures until my PTSD subsides a little.  My PCP had the nerve to suggest it was time for another colonoscopy. “You should have one every five years.”, she suggests.  Well, I found the paperwork from my last one and guess what?  It was in 2012.  Boo-yah!  I have two more years and you can step off.

This past weekend, I was organizing my office.  One of the tasks was organizing The Cancer Binder.  When I was first diagnosed I quickly became overwhelmed by all the paperwork involved in managing the situation.  I was juggling four doctors and multiple tests and the plethora of bills that came from all directions.  It made me feel more in control to put all of this information in a binder.  All the bills I paid.  All the referrals.*  All the E.O.B.s.  Every pamphlet and piece of paper given to me by my doctors.  In the last year or so, though, I’ve started just shoving the documents into the book with no particular order and I wanted to get that together.  Then I put the bulging book away on a shelf instead of next to my desk where I have to look at it every day.  I wish I could say I wouldn’t have to update it, but the biopsy this spring proved I’m never going to be “over” this.  But having it “over there” is a reminder that things are not as bad as they could be.

Someday, I will be off these meds and through a real menopause and hopefully back to enjoying things like dry hair and not having to have paper towels at the ready to wipe my face.  Until then, I’ll just enjoy the one side effect of the medication that  is a plus:  Mosquitoes don’t think I taste good any more. 🙂

*Referrals were created by the devil and insurance companies just to make a patient’s life more difficult.  I have to call my regular doctor to get a piece of paper that says I can see my surgeon or my oncologist.  And there’s always a beginning and end date that never quite coincide with my appointment.  I had to change my most recent oncologist appointment four times until I could get the proper paperwork filed.

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The Danger of an Idle Workday

Things are a little slow again at work.  I’ve been lucky to have had enough to do the last week or so, but it’s started to peter out.  Even the three days it took me to figure out some looping had to come to an end.  And, while I like the break, I am a danger to myself when I’m left with too much time at a computer and nothing productive to do.  My problem can be summed up in one word.

Amazon.

So far today, I’ve ordered two instruction books for my steel guitar (along the lines of “Steel Guitar for Morons Having Not Touched a Musical Instrument In 40 Years”) and put a new bathroom scale on my wishlist.  I am this close to buying it.

The problem is, I have a bathroom scale (I think I still do) somewhere in my house.  It’s not a good one.  As I recall, it was a pain in the ass.  The kind you have to tap to start and then shoot for two out three (sometimes three out of five) for an accurate weight.  It was very frustrating.

I also have a gym membership and the gym has a doctor’s scale that I could use.  And while I was there, I could maybe use the treadmill or elliptical or something.  Since I was there and everything.  I read a tip on a blog that made a ton of sense.  She said that even if you don’t want to exercise, you should still get dressed and go.  Even if you’re walking slow enough to read a magazine while you watch a TV show, you’re still not sitting on the couch and you may just feel like doing something once you get there.

Instead of doing that, I’ve been eating poorly.  Again.

I don’t understand why I fell down the rabbit hole again, but I did.  Blame the birthday, blame the busy, blame the genes.  Doesn’t matter.  Eat like shit; feel like shit.  Feel like shit; only want to eat like shit.  That’s my circle of failure.  I had two good weeks and then it all went to hell in a hand basket.

To top it all off, I feel like I’m wanting to come down with something.  Which is not going to increase my desire to get up in any way.  I’m hoping it’s just allergies, but it’s feeling more and more like a virus of some sort.  I was pleased to have gotten at least two things done yesterday that needed doing, but for the most part, I felt like I could have slept all day.  And that feeling came crashing down on me Saturday evening, in the middle of a thoroughly enjoyable outing with the Besties.  I wish there as some little warning device I could wear that would alert me to a mood crash like that.  Sort of like the lights on the dashboard of your car that blink when it’s out of gas.  Yeah.  Like that.  Then you could tell your friends, “I’m sorry, but I have two more hours of happy left and then I’m going to get really quiet/bitchy/whiney.  Please don’t think it’s anything to do with you.”

Good news is this:  Husband is away tonight at a work function until the wee hours and Boy is closing, so I am going to get myself the hell out of here on time and go home to a house that has no one in it but me and my dog.  So I am going to skip Water Aerobics (yeah, yeah.  I know) and enjoy a few hours of peaceful bliss.  Or just go to bed as soon as I get home.

Onward toward tomorrow.

The Over Side of the Hill

Beginning my 53rd year.  Seems unreal.  I do not feel any different than I did when I began my 20th year.  A little more seasoned, is all.  Hopefully, making better choices.  (But still forget sunscreen half the time.)  Experienced enough to know that the times I want to stab my husband in the neck and the times I want to stab myself will pass.

Here are some things I’ve learned about myself:

  1. The best thing to do when I’m feeling blue is to be around people who make me smile.
  2. Being around people for too long leads to some much needed alone time.
  3. I love a nap.
  4. Napping is a sign that I don’t have enough interesting things to do.
  5. I’d still rather read a book old school style – with pages and a cover.
  6. I cry because I’m angry, not because I’m sad.
  7. No matter how much I hate the idea of it, exercise makes me feel better.
  8. No matter how much I love junk food, eating better makes me feel better.
  9. Seven and eight will always be a struggle for me.
  10. I’m dog people.  Cats are cute and all, but I love dogs.
  11. It’s never too late to try something new.
  12. “Good” food is a matter of taste more than execution.
  13. I prefer a smaller house and less stuff.
  14. I’d rather have money to travel than have cool things.
  15. Photos of my travels are better than t-shirts and souvenirs.
  16. Being a grandmother doesn’t make one feel old, it makes one feel young.
  17. Never make someone choose between you and the one they love.  You’ll always lose.
  18. I will always miss my grandmother too much on my birthday.
  19. It may not seem like much to me but it may be very important to someone else.  And vice-versa.
  20. Quality time spent with my best friend will erase anything bad that happened before it.

And now the weather is cooling and the apples are turning red.  Soon the leaves will change and we’ll slide into my favorite time of year.  Now with more kayak!