Thursday, January 24, 2013

How I Can Tell My Meds Are Off

The energy and euphoria that came from switching to the blue pills was too short-lived.My meds are off again. Here's how I can tell:

  • Fourteen people looked at me today and said, "Oh my God, what's wrong?" Well, darn. I thought I was doing ok.

  • Vertigo. 

I am extremely proud that I didn't fall down today. It occurs to me that this should not be such a large accomplishment.

  • It's cold in here. Actually, it's not. But I'm freezing.

  • Shenanigans. There are none. I do not have the capacity for imagination or shenanigans. I can't think of anything clever or... something like clever. I'm like Nitnots here. Intellectually, I know I should miss the creativity and hilarity that my brain usually hosts. But I just feel plain. No new insights into the brilliant business plan of buying that shut-down funeral home and turning it into a haunted hotel (The Dead and Breakfast) have crossed my mind today. I think I should miss that? I enjoyed making that plan.

  • Energy. Yeah... I don't has it. I yawn a lot but that tends to wear me out. The only exception? Math lessons. For whatever reason, I get a major rush from teaching math. I don't know either.

  • Mood swings without laughter. I seem to be alternating between grumpy, tearful, miserable, and bitterly angry. At nothing. I am currently considering going after the guy who edited down the Jennyanydots dance number in the CATS movie. Intellectually, I can see that this might be unreasonable. 
It's possible a lot of this is due to stress, lack of sleep, or whatever. Here's what would help:

1. Chocolate.

2. I need a new endocrinologist. One who will tell me what treatment I need and then actually arrange for me to get that treatment. And not change the dates of my treatment without telling me and then act like it's my fault. Well, look who just swung back to bitterly angry.

3. I need my meds adjusted.

4. And a good lead on the perfect location for the bakery. Oy.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I Think What This Situation Needs Is Some Irradiation

If you're not as into the whole Imagination Movers scene as we are, you can go here to catch the toe-tapping tune that inspired the title.


In fourth grade, I did a report on Marie Curie. I remember putting a lot of effort into that report and, I believe I earned a pretty good grade on it. The report was an actual book report because this was before the internet, and it was hand-written in cursive. I remember that I turned the report in in a dark pink folder featuring a lame drawing of something that was vaguely humanoid holding a test tube that was colored with yellow highlighter... because radium glows. And because the accessible printers were not yet capable of printing pictures.

Because anyone can win one Nobel Prize...
I thought about that highlighter-glow several times today as the latest new doctor talked about how many microcuries of radiation I'm going to get. *Spoiler alert: only 29!

Maybe one day, a unit of measure will be named after me... though I shudder to think of what it would quantify.

What was I-? Oh. Yes.

I have to have a smidge of radiation.

"But, Mandi," you protest. "I thought they already got all your thyroid and cancer out."

Well, yes. But here's the thing: there's a chance that a little glitterspeck or two of thyroid tissue is still in there, hiding. And there's a chance that those wee bits of thyroid could travel somewhere and start cancering again. The best way to prevent that from happening is to kill it with fire radioactive iodine. It'll also make it easier to test for cancer recurrence for a few years. So why not?

29 microcuries is not very much, not much at all. In fact, they don't even admit you to the hospital unless you have 30. So you see? No big deal.

Here's the plan:
Step 1: Today's blood work will (hopefully) show that my synthetic thyroid hormone replacement needs to be upped. That change will (hopefully) take effect tomorrow.
Step 2: Early February, I'll switch to a different synthetic thyroid... one with a much shorter half-life.
Step 3: Profit
Step 4: Mid- February, I will completely stop taking any synthetic thyroid and try to avoid eating iodine (anything with salt or preservatives). After a couple of days, the lack of thyroid hormone will make me feel, in the doctor's words, "like death warmed over". Delightful. But necessary to help my body absorb the radioactive stuff.
Step 5: A week later, I will take the radioactive pill and FINALLY gain superpowers start back on my usual synthetic thyroid pills.
Step 6: I will be quarantined in the Fortress of Solitude (AKA a hotel somewhere nearby) for a few days so that my kids and husband are not exposed to my radiant glow when it's at its peak.
Step 7: Back to life as usual and pretend it never happened.

So really, this is the best thing ever!

  • I get to be radioactive (again) for a few days. There is a very good chance that the third time will be the charm and I will finally be able to shoot webs out of the scars from that tarantula bite. (Don't think I haven't tried before.)
  • I get to find out what it's like to have no thyroid hormone in me at all... that should be interesting. And it'll give me the chance to practice my slug impression.
  • I get a few nights in a hotel. Just me and some books... and probably some business paperwork to catch up on. 

I am so stinkin' lucky that I have this option.

"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less."   - Maria SkÅ‚odowska-Curie

Saturday, January 12, 2013

But a Happy Cave Dweller

Blah. There is a disruption in the synthroid/calcium force and I am beat. It's two more days until I can talk to the doctor about adjusting my meds. Almost every day, I feel like a cave dweller. Because I'm draggin'. Get it? Draggin'? Dragon?

Puns are cool.

This fatigue is different from anything I've ever experienced before. Remember that time I took that black belt test and it lasted two and a half hours and I was the only one testing so it was basically me moving around and doing karate stuff for two solid hours? That was nothing. Remember that time I went into labor at 3am and the labor lasted twenty hours and so I was trying to make a human appear after a long, painful day that started after very little sleep? That was nothing. This is a deep-down, bone weary exhaustion that leeches my energy from every aspect of my life. I can't describe it accurately. My eye itches, but I don't have enough energy to lift my whole arm and rub it.

I'm having a hard time accepting this fatigue. When I had my gall bladder out this time last year, I came away with amazing energy. I felt better than I had in a long, long time. When I had the surgery in March, the doctor told me I'd have more energy- "It'll be like you have an extra hour in the day," he said. And he was right. I had stamina out the wazoo.

All that surgery, all that recovery time, and now those wonderful benefits are gone. Cancer stole my energy because cancer is a jerk.

OK, as Mrs. Garrett used to say, with the facts of life, you take the good and you take the bad. Luckily, the good is more important than the bad.

Good: The bug had her 5th birthday party!

More good: Despite the exhaustion, I was able to make her cake! And it came out almost how I wanted:

A good time was had by all:
Here's us because I'm not going to post pics of other people's kids

Bad: Remember the spot thingy that resides in the back of my right eyeball?

Doesn't everyone have photos of the inside of their eyeball?
That terrible thing that the optometrist found last, last summer? I had to drive out to Montgomery over and over to see a specialist and make sure it wasn't growing? Yeah, that thing. Since I had thyroid cancer, I have to go and get this thing checked again. The eyeball specialist is a very nice man. But I hate going there. I was so happy when I finished those tests and I would never have to go again. I have to go back at the end of the month because cancer is a jerk.

Good: Report cards! Both the kids brought home great report cards. And, through a serendipitous turn of events, the eye appointment I made three months ago happened to be the same day as the boy's second nine weeks awards day, so I got to go see him get his name called for All S's and something something reading:

OK, here are some other people's kids because I don't have a solo awards day picture.
Good: Reading! The kids love Junie B. Jones and Ramona books. That is the best thing in the world. Reading to them makes me the happiest cave dweller in the world.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I think that... wait. What?

Since the thyroidectomy, I've been taking synthetic thyroid hormone. I think my levels are off and they're going to have to adjust my meds soon. Some days are fine. Some days are hard. Most nights are pretty rough. I'm exhausted. 

I don't just mean tired. This is something altogether different from any kind of fatigue I've experienced before. I'm beat. And there's no amount of coffee or scary movies that can wake me up. I can fall asleep standing up... not that I can stand up for long anyway. My mind wanders and I find myself writing more and more things down to keep track of them. 

Here's where I would create an endearing graphic with an exhaustion scale on it. I would. But I'm too darn tired. Just pretend you saw a colorful fatigue scale with "staying up past my bedtime" at the bottom, "being a college student" and "having a newborn" in the middle, and "thyroid meds are off" WAAAAAAY at the top. Also, pretend there was a cute bear demonstrating those levels. 

It was only a year ago that I was working full time, going to night school, making cakes, and being a wife and mother. How? How did I do that?

I've cut back on the number of cake orders I'm accepting. I'm deliberately reserving a weekend a month with no cakes so that we can do family stuff. The cake calendar still looks mighty busy in the next few months, though. I hope I can pull everything off. 

In five days, I'll go talk to the endocrinologist about radiation (hopefully not) and my meds. I think I could sleep until then. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Protips: Orlando

We've been to Orlando three times in the last four years. Here are some things I've learned from these trips. Now, just FYI, these tips mostly apply to families like ours (two adults, a couple of kids, and a budget):

Rent a house: If you choose to stay in a hotel, there is nowhere to go and escape your children enjoy some quiet time. Staying a couple of miles farther from the parks is both cheaper and you can get more space. Renting a house also gets you benefits like a washing machine that you can use any time, a full kitchen where you can cook food you know your kids will eat, and a private pool. Separate bedrooms, separate bathrooms, and your own living room. It's delightful, and you can spend a day or two in the rental just relaxing without driving each other crazy. Bonus: a lot of communities where you can rent a house offer perks like a clubhouse breakfast, playgrounds, or movie nights!

They were so sad to leave this house.

Sea World: I like saving money, and Sea World can be a great option in that regard. Buy your tickets online and save $10 off of each. Then, bring that $10 to the park and buy a 2nd day's admission with it at any of the "Vacation Club" desk things. BOOM! Two days for the price of one and that place has so much to do, you'll need both days to do it all.
Don't miss the Clyde and Seymore show.
All Day Dining: At Sea World this year, we popped for the all day dining option. For around $100 (for the whole family), we got these bracelets that allowed us to eat as much as we wanted, all day long. Elevensies? Yes, please. We totally got our money's worth, and it took the pressure off. If we didn't like a meal, we didn't lament wasting $40. We just went and got something else. Un-freakin'-limited food and soda. And Sea World has some diverse dining options. Have breakfast at Voyagers (so good) and then eat everywhere else during the day.
I love all day dining THIS much!
THAT is a hearty breakfast!

Steak fajita sandwich

Brisket, ribs, and mint chocolate cheesecake? Yes, please.

Souvenirs: OK, this one takes some planning, but it's worth it if you can pull it off. has big big sales twice a year. Join their e-mail list and get the e-mail notification (and discount code) when the next sale starts. Then, buy your kids some Disney pj's, toys, autograph books, or whatever. It'll me MUCH cheaper than getting it in the parks and still official Disney stuff- the same merchandise that's in the shops in the parks. If you're less discerning, check the junky tourist shops in towns like Kissimmee. The farther from Orlando you are, the less expensive the souvenirs.

Character Dining: Here's the thing: time is limited. When you're at a park, your time is precious. Do you want to spend it waiting in line for a ride or waiting in line to see a character? I prefer rides and attractions. Plus, you never know when a character will be there or when they'll leave on break. If you book character dining, you're guaranteed some face time with the characters at that meal. It's a little more expensive, but if your kid just wants to meet Mickey and doesn't care about the rides, why not book breakfast with Mickey at the Contemporary Resort? Then you don't even have to buy a park ticket at all.

Quality Time

Much Better...

The last time we were in Orlando, we booked a character breakfast at the Contemporary Resort.  It was a nice buffet breakfast and the characters were great! It would have been a fabulous experience... except for one thing... Emi was sick. I mean, really sick. The highlight was when she threw up at the table. Yeah. That happened.

So, we decided to try again. And this time was much better! Nobody threw up! 

It was early o'clock, y'all.

Nobody threw up!

The boy's favorite!

Goofy signing our autograph books

Goofy ^ 3

Mickey signing autographs

Chef Mickey

Donald signing autographs

Emi loved Donald

She can't believe how he's signing that book...


He's smitten

 After breakfast, we wandered around the hotel a bit. This was near the restaurant. It's HUGE, I mean HUGE and made of real gingerbread. The gingerbread men around the base of the tree are standard, large gingerbread man size.

This is about as much vacation as I can take. Oy, my legs are tired! Back to the rental house for some rest today. 

Sea What I Did There?

I don't know how to record our visit to Sea World. I don't feel clever about this one.

It started pretty rough- at the first show, the dolphin show, I was struck with how much I miss being an animal behaviorist. I mean, I love my students at school. But these guys don't lie about their homework and tell me their momma is going to sue me:

I miss it sometimes. And Sea World is the place where I miss it the most. So it was rough for me. My kids, however, loved it:

By the time that show ended, I decided to suck it up and enjoy my time with my family. You can't go back, only forward, right?

We saw all the shows:
Pets A'hoy has the tightest behavior chains in the park, hands down.

The awesome, lad-back atmosphere of sea lion and otter stadium

The main event... but I gotta say, they keep missing the mark on Shamu Stadium wetsuit designs.

The Christmas Clyde and Seymore complete with cheesy, Old Navy commercial-style sweaters.
We caught the drummers on stilts:

And Nathan rode his first roller coaster, The Shamu Express:
We got the commemorative photo, complete with snazzy Shamu frame.
The kids got some autographs in their books: 

Emi loved that guy.

She rode some rides.

When did she start posing for pictures like this?

They talked to a flamingo
We were there ALL DAY! From park opening to after dark! A new record in baby stamina!
One of the giant Christmas trees
OK, this was my favorite thing that happened at Sea World that day. You know how I can always find a good parking spot? OK. I found these great seats for the Shamu show: 

Fourth row, right in front! The only thing was... it was cold that day. Like, in the 40's. And those awesome fourth row seats were square in the Soak Zone.

Doss worried about us getting wet. But my mojo held. Not a single drop hit us. Even with this guy redirecting the water streams toward the audience:

Dry. I did my best to act like I knew we'd be fine the whole time. "I didn't beat cancer just to die of hypothermia!"

I miss it. But the bakery adventure starts soon. Gotta keep moving forward, right?