Saturday, December 29, 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

This Christmas season finds me grateful for many things: for modern medicine and the body's innate ability to heal; for my beautiful family who has been so supportive of me these last few months; for the freedom and beauty of our country; and finally, for a loving and caring Savior who made the greatest sacrifice on my behalf. Merry Christmas!

I am the Christmas Spirit.

I enter the home of poverty, causing pale-faced children to open their eyes wide in pleased wonder.

I cause the miser’s clutched hand to relax and thus paint a bright spot on his soul.

I cause the aged to renew their youth and to laugh in the glad old way.

I keep romance alive in the heart of childhood and brighten sleep with dreams woven of magic.

I cause eager feet to climb dark stairways with filled baskets, leaving behind them hearts amazed at the goodness of the world.

I cause the prodigal to pause a moment on his wild, wasteful way, and send to anxious love some little token that releases glad tears—tears which wash away the hard lines of sorrow.

I enter dark prison cells, reminding scarred manhood of what might have been, and pointing forward to good days yet to come.

I come softly into the still, white home of pain; and lips that are too weak to speak just tremble in silent, eloquent gratitude.

In a thousand ways I cause the weary world to look up into the face of God, and for a little moment forget the things that are small and wretched.

I am the Christmas Spirit.

Author Unknown

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Other Woman

Winter is definitely here...see proof below. This is the view out my front door this morning.





The forecasters say it will snow every day for the next 5 days.







We live on the top of a small mountain in a community named SunCrest, which is at the South end of the Salt Lake valley. The altitude is 6,330 feet and we usually get a good amount of snow.
This is our fourth Winter in SunCrest.

So, here's the deal.

We've always had shovels. Todd's favorite command has always been "KIDS - there's a snowflake in my driveway and I want it gone!" At which point, my teenage children would grumble, complain, kick, scream, and holler - but they would eventually turn off their video games and relocate the snow that had accumulated on the driveway and sidewalks. Then, they would come back into the house, red-faced, and track snow all over my kitchen. But that's a blog for another day.

This past November, Todd splurged and bought new snow shovels. He was tired of the kids fighting over the 'red' snow shovel. Who knew there were such differences in shovels?! Apparently the green shovels were 'crap' and they all fought over the coveted (and singular) 'red' shovel. So - Todd, feeling love in his heart and compassion for their angst, purchased 'red shovels' for all of them. It was a joyous day to behold. Here is a picture of the shovels in all of their splendid glory.












Then, a certain reality hit my husband.

Darren is going on a mission. Darren is the oldest and strongest of the 4. Darren is never home because he's working two jobs to pay off debts that he accumulated over the last year even though we as wise parents warned him about the dangers of debt and tried to subtly explain that debts don't go away even if he goes on a mission. Was that a run-on sentence? Sorry. Did you sense any frustration on my part? Sorry.

So, following the law of logical deduction, if Darren is never home, Todd realized he would have to be the one out there exercising brawn and power over the giant snowflake in the driveway. Todd is smart.

The seed was planted and a thought turned into an obsession.

Todd scoured KSL ads looking for snow blowers. "Jodi, I can't go another winter with those 'pieces of crap' shovels - even if they are all red now. Besides, Darren's not here to help."

hmmm.

One night he was especially quiet. I have learned to fear those times. Finally, one Sunday morning he sprung it on me. He had found a snowblower that he wanted to buy. He had been awake all night thinking about it.

Me: But you just bought all those brand new shovels.
Todd: Jodi, I can't go another winter with those 'pieces of crap' shovels - even if they are all red now. Besides, Darren's not here to help.

So, off he went to buy his new pride and joy, the apple of his eye. I hatefully refer to her as the 'other woman'.

Here he is with her. The happy couple.












Todd races home to her when it snows. Neighbors flock to our home when he is outside. They speak in hushed and reverent tones as they speak of her horsepower and size. I don't see him for the rest of the night because he has to help all of the other neighbors (who don't have snowblowers) with their driveways.

It's hard being married to a nice guy. And it's really hard sharing my nice guy with another woman! But I'm not bitter - and at least the snowflake is gone. For now.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

TIRED!


I tried going back to work yesterday. I made a good first attempt. At about 4:00 I realized that I was staring off into space. I noticed that my legs and arms felt like dead weights. My dad (who I work with - more on this in another entry) asked me a question and I realized that I couldn't find the energy to open my mouth, let alone summon some active brain cells that could come up with words to say.
Here are my before surgery and after surgery photos:

This is how I used to be.





And this is me now.









When my daughters looked at this picture they said, "ohhh - cute"!

They NEVER look at me lounging lazily and say "ohhh - cute! I'm so glad she's not making us dinner. I'm so glad the house is a mess. I'm so glad she asked me to run up the stairs and get her book."

Speaking of which - HOLY COW - I never knew a house could have so many stairs. I never really noticed them all before. These days I usually head up the stairs for bed around 7:00 pm and by 10:00 I finally make it to the top and crash!
Anyway - I knew I would be tired after the surgery. After all, we have thyroids for a reason. I had mine for 38 years before it decided to go AWOL. I was warned that I would be tired and run-down. I was told that it would take time for my body to readjust. But wow - this is a different kind of tired. It's not an "I need sleep now, I think I'll go to bed" kind of tired. It's more of an irritating, sluggish, run-down, "I can't find the energy to blink" kind of tired.
But - this too shall pass. One day I will have energy again. I don't know what each day holds for me. Some days are fine and I accomplish what I need to. Other days - not so much!
Eventually this thyroid cancer journey will be a distant memory. I will have learned from it whatever it is I need to learn. Until then - heave ho! It's time for bed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Run of Bad Luck??

Whenever you think you've had a really bad month or are inclined to feel sorry for the misery bestowed upon you by the fates that be - it may be wise to refer to this blog. I'll outline the chronological order of unfortunate events. The following details should invoke an unabashed gratitude that you were not living in the Watson home during the months of November/December 2007.

November 8.
The Leaping Deer

Our typical morning drive to school started out innocently enough. We were more than likely laughing at Connor - something we do regularly. We didn't see the deer stalking us behind a forest of trees. And we didn't know why the deer had such an urgent need to cross the road at the precise moment that we drove past. Was there a bake sale across the street? Did he see a really cute female deer? Was he practicing for 'reindeer games'? In any case, it happened so suddenly. All I remember was Connor screeching at the top of his lungs (it was kind of a girly scream if you want to know the truth). It was the most terrifying sight. It was horrendous to behold. Of course, I didn't get a picture as it happened far too suddenly....but it looked something like.....









This.......























I KNOW!! Terrifying! Now, imagine that beast jumping over your car - head 0n - and making contact with the roof - while your screaming 15-year old son reverted back to pre-pubescence. It wasn't a good day. Trust me.


November 9.
The first car crash

I'll just briefly paraphrase this morning's events as it really wasn't that interesting. Really. Um - yeah - I again was preparing to take my children to school. I don't recall exactly, but I'm sure there was a blizzard outside. I was probably recovering from being awake all night caring for my sick cats or something. Ahem. I backed out of the garage and I SWEAR the suburban in the driveway jumped out at me. You should have seen it!! There was no possible way I could have missed hitting it. See very minor damage below.














I only remember two things about the ordeal:

a) Connor screaming like a girl.

b) Todd's reaction















November 15.
The second and much more significant car crash

This day will live in infamy. I will never forget the phone call. I only remember blurbs of the conversation as the room turned black and I started to feel faint. The words I heard were something like "the car in front of me that I was following hit the front of my car, mom" (huh?) and "the brakes weren't fast enough" and "Do I have to call dad?". Of course, my first reaction was "ARE YOU OKAY"? Really, that was my first reaction. I promise. My second reaction was more along the lines of "YOU DID WHAT?" Then I'm sure there were incoherent ramblings, sobbings, and uncontrollable fetal-position swayings as I thought of what the news from this phone call would do to our insurance rates.

When Darren, our 20 year old son (who, to his credit has never hit another car before this incident) finally dared to come home, this is what Todd and I saw:












And this is what Darren and I saw:












The very next day. November 16.
Jodi's surgery #1

I donned a gown that was open in the back. I was drugged. A vital organ was surgically removed from my neck! I was sent home with not so much as a 'how do you do'! I have nothing else to say about that!


November 21.
The good news: mission call. The bad news: lab results.

As Todd and I were receiving some unfortunate news about my thyroid surgery lab results (see previous blog) - and while learning that there would be yet another surgery (money hungry doctors!) we were being bombarded by incessant phone calls from Darren and other family members - absolutely giddy with excitement. Yes, the envelope that would tell us where our missionary would be laboring and serving for the next two years had arrived. Darren apparently was holding his future in his hot little hands. "Where are we going to meet?" and "Can we order pizza" and "What if I'm going to Boise" were phrases we heard between the doctor's depressing drivel.

We fled from the office and risked flying deer as we sped to my mother's home. There we would meet like a gaggle of... well, family members I guess, and watch as Darren opened his mission call!

Here is Darren reading his mission call:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=HyiqY3AUfk0

Yes, Darren will be muk-lukking around in Russia!! Russia....as in the coldest place on earth. As in communism. As in "don't tell anybody you're American, because the Russians will beat you up". Yeah. That Russia.

This is what Darren thinks about going to Russia for two years (cheesy grin on the right):


















November 24.
Thanksgiving

This was a somewhat uneventful day except that I found Elora in a heap on the bathroom floor. She was green and sick. Thanksgiving Day. Turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie and everything that is good and holy and delightsome to the taste buds. Poor Elora. This was true tragedy and suffering - more than I could bear to witness. I think she eventually became un-green and was able to enjoy a few delectible morsels.

December 6-7
Surgery #2

Second surgery to take out the rest of the thyroid. They stripped me of clothes and dignity. The devils made me stay in the hospital overnight and away from my cats.


December 11.
The "little" crash.

It is said that bad luck happens in threes. Well, if that is the case, then maybe we had three sets of 'bad luck' threes.

I sent Elora to the store to buy a few things. Based on the events of the past month, I should have been smarter. I should have listened to the inner nag telling me I was a fool to let her take the car. I didn't listen. I gave my child the keys to the only vehicle that hadn't been crashed into! I've replayed the scenario in my mind several times and hope to come to terms with my error in judgment. Hindsight is 20/20 but I truly thought it would be okay.


Telephone rings....

Me: Hello?
Elora: Mom - I crashed the car.

I have to interject here. They say there are 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). I 'm sure I covered all 5 in this conversation.

Me: You did wwww-what?
Elora: I hit a guard rail
Me: Ha ha, Elora. You are funny. (denial)
Elora: Serious mom.
Me: WHAT?? WHO HITS A GUARDRAIL???!!! (anger)
Elora: sniff
Me: Okay - tell me this is a joke and I won't be mad at you. (bargaining)
Elora: I'm sorry mom. sobbing.
Me: Oh hey no problem. sigh. Darren and I hit cars this month - you should get the opportunity too! (depression).
Elora: Sorry mom. weeping and wailing
Me: Just tell me you're okay. We'll deal with it when you get home. How bad is the damage?(acceptance)
Elora: It's not that bad. I barely hit the corner of the front bumper.


This is what Todd and I saw when she came home:













This is what Elora saw:











And...












In summary.

In one month's time we have been stalked by a leaping deer; had 2 surgeries (read: mom is now missing vital hormones); we learned that our eldest son is going to communist Russia for 2 years; our 4 vehicles have all been crashed this month; It's Christmastime.

How we are coping:

*Todd is learning to deal with his emotions at 12-step meetings.
*I spend my time weeping uncontrollably.
*We all take the bus wherever we need to go now.


The only light in our lives is the baby of our family who tries to cheer us all up by doing this to her hair:













Bless her little heart. But as much as she's trying to cheer us all up and make us happy - she's NOT going to get a driver's license until she's 25!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Thyroid Cancer and Parathyroid Stuff!

Last Thursday I had surgery to remove my thyroid. 2 weeks earlier, I had surgery to remove a parathyroid tumor. The following is part of an email I sent to family and friends, explaining the ordeal of this past year. I am still home recuperating and want to share my journey with anyone who is interested. I'll be posting frequently in the next few months.

Thyroid cancer is one of the most treatable and highly successful cancers that there is - but it can spread. I am fortunate that it was found so early before it spread to the lymph nodes or liver. Please have your annual physicals!! Also - have an ultrasound if you feel any lumps in your neck (or anywhere for that matter)!

~~~~

About a year ago my family took me to Benihana's for dinner for my birthday. We had someone take a picture of our family. I remember looking at myself in that picture and thinking I looked sick. I was pale and I looked worn out. My eyes looked so sad. It was very surprising to me. I made an appt with an internal medicine doctor for a physical and asked her to definitely check my thyroid function. The results showed that my thyroid function was perfectly fine but my calcium was high. She said a person's calcium should never be high. She ran more tests and found that my parathyroid hormone (completely different than the thyroid, I have learned) was also on the high end and referred me to an endocrinologist. She told me that she suspected that I had hyperparathyroidism. She explained that one of my 4 parathyroids was growing a tumor and pulling too much calcium from my bones. Too much calcium in the body makes a person feel sick all the time (achy, nauseated etc.) - which is how I was feeling. The endocrinologist ran more tests and agreed that it was a parathyroid tumor. The only cure for this is surgery. I learned that the surgery was simple and that I would feel so much better after the parathyroid was taken out. More tests needed to be run, however, so the surgeon could determine which of the 4 parathyroids was bad. This is where things became complicated.

I went to a surgeon who told me that I didn't have a tumor or if I did it was too small. He said my calcium was fine. He said to go back to my internal medicine doctor because he couldn't help me. I was devastated. I had been through so many tests and just wanted to have the surgery to feel better. I felt very belittled and pushed aside. I left in tears and vowed to never see another doctor again! I think I really said that! I also started to feel like I was a hypochondriac and wasn't really sick at all. As a side note - it turns out he had inaccurate data and labs that he was referring to (I still don't know why there was a discrepancy with my labwork). I didn't know about the misinformation at the time and waited seven months to see another doctor. I should have held my ground and been more pushy instead of wasting so much time. I have since learned that we are ultimately in charge of our healthcare. Doctors see hundreds of patients and many times we are just names and numbers to them.

This past September I still felt sick. I had been sick all Summer. I decided to give the doctor thing another try. This time I did research and found an Endocrinologist that had experience with parathyroid tumors. He was awesome (Dr. James Grua). He nailed my condition on the head in the first 5 minutes and referred me to a great surgeon that has a lot of experience with parathyroid surgeries (Dr. Pramod Sharma). I highly recommend both of them. Dr. Sharma sent me for a couple of ultrasounds so that he would know which parathyroid was the offender!

The ultrasounds showed a couple of nodules on the right and middle parts of the thyroid. He wanted me to have a biopsy because of their size. Apparently most people have thyroid nodules and he wasn't very concerned - but wanted to be on the safe side. The biopsy showed some suspicious cells. He didn't suspect cancer at this point but told me that it was probably best to remove the right and middle parts of the thyroid - especially since he was already going to go in and take out the parathyroid.

The first surgery was on Friday, November 16. He took out half of the thyroid and the offending parathyroid (it was on the lower left side). The surgery was easy and I was sent home the same day.

The following Wednesday was my followup appt. I was told that the thyroid labwork showed papillary thyroid cancer and he would have to go in and take out the remaining half of the thyroid.

I am now home from that surgery and doing very well. My body is still trying to readjust my hormones but I am starting to feel much better. Especially today - and I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have been put on some thyroid medication (cytomel) which definitely helps with my energy level. I will have a radio-active iodine treatment in about 6 weeks and will have to be isolated for a few days. This will kill any remaining thyroid tissue that was left behind. I'll be checked again in about 6 months and then every year for a while.