Thursday, November 29, 2012

For Cody:

The hospital called three times today. The scheduling and medical history calls were quick and easy. I prefer to think that the scheduling nurse was that... efficient... because she's just good at her job. I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that she had been warned to talk quickly and not let me answer. And good for her! It worked out well. This time. But you can't hang up on me when I'm there tomorrow, sweetheart!

Unfortunately for the financial department, they didn't get the brevity memo. Bless her heart. I tried to be good. But then we got to this part:

Her: "And if anyone calls or visits, is it ok to let them know that you are here?"

Me: "Sure... But only if they have presents."

Her: "Ex-... excuse me?"

Me: "Only let them know I'm there if they have presents."

Her: "Ha ha ha."

Me: "No, I'm serious. Can you, like, search people before they can come visit? Maybe pat them down, make sure they have a gift?"

Her: "..."

Me: "Just make sure you're thorough with the pat-down. They might have a gift card."

Her: "Ummm... ok?"

Let that be a warning to you! I'll probably be unconscious until around 11 tomorrow night. But if anybody wants to come visit after that, you might want to make sure your get-well gift is highly visible. I hear the hospital bouncers are "handsy".

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Captain's Log: Day 3

Today, I'm struck by how amazingly fortunate I am. Here's why I'm lucky:

1. Stage 1/ thyroid: the easiest stage of the easiest brand of cancer to beat. It's like playing Fruit Ninja on Zen mode.

2. 1.8 cm. That's wee. And that was the "big"one. If there are others, they'll be even wee'er. And that's awesome because wee'er, however challenging to spell, is fun  to say.

3. It doesn't hurt.

4. We caught it early. The original plan was to have the right lobe taken out after Christmas or even spring break. Getting it done this month was GREAT thing. Now we can get it all done before it was originally scheduled to start.

5. I have plenty of sick days accrued that I can use for the occasional surgery or radiation treatment if need be. (This would not be true if I were deep in the throes of opening a bakery.)

6. The people for whom I was going to cake this weekend have been very understanding about me cancelling for the next surgery.

7. Even the worst case scenario, if there's cancer in the left lobe, the local lymph nodes, and other lymph nodes, and I have to go in for real cancer treatment, then I still have options. The brand new, fancy pants Cancer Treatment Center of America in Newnan (which, by the way, opened the same WEEK that these tumors were found) takes our insurance. In fact, it seems to be some kind of fancy cancer spa. I'm intrigued and nowhere near as scared of the big-kid cancer scenario.

8. Speaking of insurance, we added supplemental cancer insurance this year. It took effect October 1. I was diagnosed November 26. True story.

9. All those weird symptoms make sense. When this is all over, I'll be able to regulate my body temperature again!

10. I have already reduced my chances of it spreading and becoming breast cancer by 9 pounds. Because I'm nothing if not proactive.

11. I have awesome, supportive friends who help me keep the proper perspective. Case in point: a copy/paste my new favorite e-mail:
" Are you going to rename your bakery Cancerpotamus? Cake for the Cure? The Susan G. Cakeman Foundation?"

What more could I ask for?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Shopping

Remember that time I got diagnosed with cancer? Yeah, yesterday. That time.

There are a lot of feelings that come along with seeing your name on an official pathology report next to the word "carcinoma". Most of them are bad. There's the obvious, "Oh, crap." And there's the "What's going to happen?". There's "What am I going to tell my kids?". And even with a relatively easy-to-beat cancer like thyroid, there's the old "Am I going to die from this?". Because it's still cancer.

But, it doesn't totally suck. Now, as a two day cancer patient, I can speak with authority. There are some benefits to having the big C. Mind you, they are extremely lame and in no way make it worthwhile. Did you hear that, kids? Cancer: not even once.

For one thing, people are nice to you. Cancer is like a talisman against rudeness. Or maybe it's just that petty stuff doesn't matter enough to register anymore. The flip side of that seems to be that people approach you in hushed tones and ask only how you are. There's no flippant banter about coffee or vampires. Or again, maybe that's my own filter that's keeping me from engaging in that kind of interaction. Meh, we'll see how day three goes.

Obviously, the biggest benefit, by far, is getting to sport a purple shirt at Relay for Life. And, if you look at it a little bit sideways, this is an opportunity to become a cancer survivor. And, I have a sense of relief that I wasn't totally crazy. I knew that biopsy was wrong! I knew it! In your face, biopsy!

And then... there's the humor. Because what's the good of having cancer if you can't laugh at it?

I'm a virgo.

I got this mug yesterday after I had lunch with Doss. (p.s. If you tell your waitress that you're celebrating that you have been given the opportunity to become a cancer survivor, she probably won't understand. Learn from my fail.) At first, he was not amused. He has since come around because I'm hilarious. I bought a mug with a cancer zodiac sign... the day I was diagnosed with cancer!

I like my humor like I like my coffee: dark and in a mug.

But the yin-yang mug is not my greatest shopping purchase of the week. May I present, Ulysses S. Grant:

Technically, he has nothing to do with the whole cancer experience because I found him on clearance at Lowes last weekend. But he makes me happy... partly because he only looks like he's made of wood, but really he's made of some kind of heavy ceramic. And partly because he always looks slightly bewildered.

And that's why Doss is a little bit relieved when my debit card gets stolen and I can't buy anything for a while.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The C Word

and I don't mean "chitlin's"
I know it's supposed to be spelled chitterings, but who says that? I mean really?

Here's the lowdown:

The nodules on my thyroid were first found by a doctor in 2001. They were small, they didn't affect thyroid function, so we left them alone.

This summer, during a routine check up, my favorite doctor "found" them again. And they were bigger. Tests showed they weren't affecting thyroid function *much* but they were definitely bigger. So they needed to come out.

I had the right side and middle of my thyroid removed last Monday (November 19th). No big deal, recovery was a breeze. But this morning at my post-op appointment, I found out that the pathology report isn't so great.

I had a stage I, 1.8 cm carcinoma in the right side of my thyroid.

Because it's more than the 1 cm cutoff for a micro-carcinoma, I have to get the left side of my thyroid and the local lymph nodes removed asap. I head back in to surgery on Friday.

If there's cancer in the left side or lymph nodes, I'll have to do a quick, 2 day radiation thing at the hospital. If there's no other cancer, I might have to do the radiation thing. We'll see.

Regardless, thyroid cancer is pretty easy to beat, so no worries.  Once you get past the whole "THERE IS CANCER IN MY NECK! EW! GET IT OUT! GET IT OUT!" feeling, it's not so bad. I'm not in any pain or anything.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Surely there's a way to leave a comment in there somewhere

The hospital called again yesterday. I'm headed in for my third surgery of 2012 and this was the usual call telling me what time to be there and reminding me not to eat after midnight.

Bless her heart. The pre-op nurse who called me really should have been given a heads up. I got the distinct impression that most of the people she calls aren't as fond of banter as this girl. There needs to be a place in that hospital file for them to put a warning to people who have to call me. Something like, "This is not a psychiatric patient. Don't be alarmed." or "She thinks she's funny. Just play along."
Or maybe they should just have a drop down option in the intake form. You can specify your religion. Why can't you specify your humor? Methodist. Dry wit.

Nurse: "Can I please speak to Amanda ummm... Biga-"
Me: "This is Amanda."
Nurse: "This is Pre-op Nurse calling from East Alabama Medical. I'm calling to give you the time of your surgery."
Me: "Oh boy! Lay it on me!"
At this point, the nurse seems genuinely pleased that someone on the other end of the phone a) speaks English and 2) sounds happy to hear from her.
Nurse: "OK, are you sitting down? Are you ready?"
Me: "Yes. I'm sitting. Hit me with it."
Nurse: "Your time is... 1 p.m."
Me: "Huh. I'm gonna be hungry."
Nurse: "Well... before six a.m., you can have some clear liquids and dry toast."
Me: "Well, that's something."
Nurse: "Clear liquids include black coffee, plain tea, water, Sprite, or ginger ale."
Me: "So like beer?"
I like to think this was especially funny because she is looking at the intake information I had JUST, minutes before, provided to the hospital that specifies that I don't drink.
Nurse (hesitantly): "No. Not beer."
Me: "Oh. Of course. Light beer."
Nurse: "No. No beer."
Me: "OK, I'm writing this down. French toast..."
Nurse (at this point realizing that I'm hilarious): "No! Dry toast. Dry. No butter. Nothing."
Me: "That sounds pretty gross."
Nurse: "You can dip it in your black coffee."
Me: "That's a terrible suggestion. Thank God you're not a chef."
Nurse: "No bacon, no eggs..."
Now I start to feel bad. I want to let her know that I understand the instructions. This is not my first day at the rodeo. And I'm sure she has better things to do than deal with my nonsense.
Me: "Right, because I could aspirate it during the surgery."
Nurse (relieved): "Yes! And it'd get all in your lungs-"
Me: "Waste of bacon-"
Nurse: "And you'd have to go to the ICU-"
Me: "And then I'd have bacon breath for the rest of my life. And nobody wants that."
Nurse: "No, nobody wants that. You know, no one's ever said that to me before."
Me: "Yeah, I get that a lot."
Nurse: "Are you a nurse or in the medical field?" (I guess because I used the word aspirate?)
Me: "Nope, I'm a teacher."
Nurse: "A teacher?"
Me: "Yup. Really."
Blah blah, more instructions on where to go, what to pack, etc.
Nurse: "OK, do you have any other questions for me? I'll actually be one of your pre-op nurses on Monday."
Me: "Great! What kind of cupcakes do you want?"
Nurse: "What?"
Now, I completely understand her reticence in light of our conversation up to that point.
Me: "I'm a baker. I'll bake y'all something on Sunday to keep my mind off having my neck cut open. What do you want?"
Nurse: "You're a baker?"
Me: "Everybody needs a hobby."
Nurse: "Ummm... chocolate?"
Me: sigh
Nurse: "You don't have to-"
Me: "'Chocolate.' Here's what I'll do. I'll bake some devil's food cupcakes, and I'll bake some chocolate chip cookie dough into them. Then, I'll hit them with peanut butter icing and some chocolate ganache."
Nurse: "Are you serious?"
Me: "Yeah, I think I still have a little of the good chocolate left."
Nurse: "I love you."

I can't wait to meet this person on Monday. She deserves a cupcake.