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My Own Private Chernobyl - Mo's Journal
September 21st, 2011
03:24 pm

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My Own Private Chernobyl
So I'm radioactive and very happy about it! It has been a long week, and it's only Wednesday.


I had thought that I had little to no thyroid function before surgery. I was getting progressively tireder since I was first diagnosed last spring. But I've found since surgery that "little" is a lot different from "no." What was left of my thyroid was removed on 8/29 and since then it's gotten much worse. In the last 10 days or so I've felt noticeably worse each day.

I went back to work after 3 days, although the standard recuperation time is three weeks, because I have very little sick leave. I figured there would likely be days where I truly could not get out of bed, so with that in mind I've worked every day I can drag myself to the office. I knew I'm unable to do five days at this point. Two weeks ago was Labor Day, so that was good. Then last week I figured I'd have to take one sick day. My preference would have been the middle of the week to break it up, but we had our big Panel Review meeting on Thursday, so that wasn't feasible.

Twice a year, we meet with officials from both the city and the state (they fund our agency through contracts) to present info on progress towards adoption. They give us a list of kids in our agency who are freed for adoption but not adopted as of a particular date - in this case July 1 - and we present what's happened with each of the cases: what our plan is for permanency for the child, what barriers we've encountered, what we've done to resolve them, what issues remain, and whether we believe we can file for adoption by 10/31. Generally about 8 or 10 of us come to the meeting, but only one presents - that's me. I can write notes on the list, but I don't have case files or anything and it's considered bad form to shuffle through papers. I can say I don't know when they ask me a question (but obviously I mostly want to know the answers) and someone else there can answer if s/he knows, or call someone to get the answer. But mostly I just speak and have to talk cogently, knowledgeably, and persuasively about each child, making the case that we're doing all we can. If we've already filed, or even finalized, that's great, and I had a bunch I could say that about, so that helps. For a large agency like ours, this goes on for 3-4 hours. As Panel Review got closer I really, really kept expecting someone to say "Dale, we know how sick you are. Soandso will take the lead on Panel Review. We can't expect you to keep the particulars of 114 kids' situations in your head and speak extemporaneously about them." But nobody did. So I did it. Anyway, the state guy told me I did an excellent job, but I think he just felt sorry for me.

My boss did suggest I go home after Panel Review instead of back to the office, which was nice. Except I fell asleep on the subway and missed my stop and it took me forever to get home. So then I took Friday, which was my birthday, off. I did a lot of nothing all weekend. I had planned on a (post) birthday dinner with the kids on Saturday, but I canceled. It would have been hard to get to a restaurant and I wouldn't have enjoyed it if I did.

I did go to shul Friday night and Saturday morning. I'm Adult Ed co-chair and we had educational programs Friday night (a dinner speaker), Saturday morning before services (a teaching on the parasha of the week) and Saturday afternoon after services (a class about Leviticus and choosing which portions to read on Yom Kippur afternoon). The Saturday afternoon one was what I wanted most to go to, but I didn't make it that far and the other two were very good.

Monday was a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Here's what I wrote at the time:
"I have my weekly adoption conference call on Fridays. Since I was out and I have a new boss and she's not up to speed yet, she didn't want to cover for me, which is fine. So I asked her to reschedule for Monday afternoon and said I'd update my records Monday morning (today) in order to be ready.

I left home at 7:00 this morning and got to the Bronx at 9:00. I can barely handle the subway steps at this point and it's very slow going. I got to my building and they said the elevators weren't working so everyone has to take the stairs. I can't do it. I can't walk up three flights of stairs. It's a horrible feeling - it's not like it will take a long time, or I'll be very tired. I truly cannot do it. So I sat by the security station waiting for the elevators to be fixed. At 9:30 my new boss said I should give up and go to the Brooklyn office but I wanted to wait it out. I gave in at 10:45.

So I got back on the subway and got here at 12:15. By that point I had, obviously, lost the whole morning. I had spent five hours getting to work and was completely exhausted. What's more, the telephone in my office wasn't working and since my office in Brooklyn is in the basement, my cell phone never works here. But I had email and it was full of urgent messages all telling me what to do as soon as I arrived.

The most urgent was a case where we were in danger of being told we made "no reasonable efforts" for this sibling group's (almost five year old twins) adoption. A bunch of things have gone wrong and there's court tomorrow. The Adoption Summary (15 page document) was one of the first I edited when I started a year ago, and no one had updated it since and it must be final by 3:00 this afternoon. The Social Worker updated it this morning. So I had to review it and give it back with corrections and any questions in time to make it final. The first thing I found out is that the social worker used his old copy from before I edited it a year ago to update, so all the spelling and grammar errors that I'd corrected are back. Nonetheless I correct it all again and find that he has the kids in Early Intervention still. They'll age out of Early Intervention in four weeks. They should be in kindergarten. Are they in kindergarten? If so where and what kind of setting? These are things I have no knowledge of but since he sees them every month he should know. I turn it around in 20 minutes with the outstanding questions and move on to the other urgent emails. At 1:55 my boss emails me to remind me that I was supposed to update my records and lead an adoption call at 2:00. I have no phone and - more to the point - had no morning today. I swear if I could quit I would."

But yesterday was better. I was sicker, but the end was in sight. I got my blood test results and found I can start Radioactive Iodine today. I worked late to finish up some stuff, stopped at the library on the way home and then came home and explained the isolation rules to the kids and cats and ex and segmented the apartment.

I dragged myself to the radiologist this morning. He looked at my blood test results and said "It's kind of amazing you're walking" and also "You must feel like a zombie." I don't know what zombies feel like, really, but if they feel like this I think I'll avoid the Zombie Apocalypse, if I can. But the radiologist also said that bad results/bad symptoms mean good surgery, which makes sense. And I'm just sooooooo happy that I don't have to (even better, can't) go anywhere for days! Hooray for radiation!

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Comments
 
[User Picture]
From:davidfcooper
Date:September 21st, 2011 07:42 pm (UTC)
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Glad you got the green light to go radioactive! Catch up on sleep, read, enjoy the unstructured time, and get well!
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:September 22nd, 2011 04:25 pm (UTC)
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Thanks, David. So far I'm enjoying it a lot! I feel great considering I feel lousy :-). I was singing and dancing
(dancing with my hands, because that's all I can manage) along to a song called "Radioactive Woman" last night and Zara laughed and said, "You look like a happy sick person!" and I am. The radiation symptoms are really, really mild. The fatigue is still getting worse, but:
a) I can sleep any time I want
b) I only have to walk from one room to another
c) My thyroid medication is sitting on my bathroom shelf, waiting for me, telling me things will be better as soon as I can take it

...so I don't mind.
[User Picture]
From:fgherman
Date:September 22nd, 2011 12:01 am (UTC)
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Sending you much love and healing thoughts.
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:September 22nd, 2011 04:26 pm (UTC)
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Thanks so much, Felicia!
[User Picture]
From:lilacsigil
Date:September 22nd, 2011 03:08 am (UTC)
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I'm so glad you get a break! I honestly don't know how you're managing to commute in that condition - I was dragging myself to work for 2 hours in the morning and 2 in the afternoon and I live about a minute from my job!

My radiologist said the same thing about the bad results - it means that any remaining thyroid tissue is ready to suck up that radiation and utterly destroy itself. Have some lozenges or something to suck - I got a pretty sore throat and some diarrhea but was otherwise fine.

Enjoy your radioactive rest!
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:September 22nd, 2011 04:27 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I have lozenges and also lemons, because my radiologist said that's the best to suck on to stimulate salivary glands. I am soooooo happy to have nowhere to go to but the bathroom :-).
[User Picture]
From:hitchhiker
Date:September 22nd, 2011 03:43 am (UTC)
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yay for radiation! hope it makes a truly dramatic difference.
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:September 22nd, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
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Thank you!
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From:kosiah
Date:September 22nd, 2011 04:31 am (UTC)
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I just know when I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and had a tsh of 129, I thought I was dying. I couldn't even think. Cut yourself some slack and relax. Also glad you get a break from work...
[User Picture]
From:aurienne
Date:September 22nd, 2011 03:14 pm (UTC)
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Does the Family & Medical Leave act cover taking time off to take care of yourself?
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:September 22nd, 2011 04:30 pm (UTC)
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Yes, it covers it, but it's unpaid time. I have no problem getting approved for time off as needed, but I'm trying to avoid time without pay. As is, my salary only pays half my bills, so to cut it...
[User Picture]
From:aurienne
Date:September 22nd, 2011 04:39 pm (UTC)
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Ah, got it. And I take it there's no short-term-disability insurance to cover anything.

U.S. society is NOT set up for people who are effectively solo economic units. And of course, they like to limit who can become a combined unit, too.
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:September 22nd, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
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I'm definitely relaxing, and glad of it.
From:fantasyenabler
Date:September 22nd, 2011 01:59 pm (UTC)
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Monday was a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

This should be required reading for anyone who thinks they've had a bad day. :)

Seriously, I'm very impressed by you right now. I can't imagine having to deal with all of this, and I know I wouldn't do it half as well. I'm just glad that you're finally getting the chance to get some rest. You definitely need it and deserve it. :)
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:September 22nd, 2011 04:30 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! I slept 11 hours last night and it was lovely.
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From:soukup
Date:September 22nd, 2011 03:11 pm (UTC)
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Oh, man, that sounds like absolute hell. Good on you for pulling through in one piece, and I'm very glad you'll have a bit of a break now. (Such as it is, I mean.) Hang in there.
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From:mofic
Date:September 22nd, 2011 04:31 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! It definitely feels like a break, even if I had to be radioactive to get it.
[User Picture]
From:talktooloose
Date:September 23rd, 2011 06:20 pm (UTC)
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Oy. It's amazing but not surprising that no one stepped in for you at the meeting with the State. That's the problem with being competent—you’re indispensible. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! R’fuah Sh’lemah, my friend!
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:September 24th, 2011 12:50 pm (UTC)
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LOL! I can't well be indispensable at what they pay me.

I'm getting lots of help. My assorted communities (online, in person, friends, family, shul, parenting group) have been extraordinarily kind and generous and helpful.
[User Picture]
From:talktooloose
Date:September 24th, 2011 04:26 pm (UTC)
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And they're just releasing X:Men—First Class this week (or next), so you can use that for some down hours!
From:(Anonymous)
Date:September 24th, 2011 03:45 am (UTC)

Hooray for radiation!

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You are one AMAZING woman, Dale. Glad you are hanging in there and am simply in awe of your positive perspective in the face of all the challenges of late. Glad you are relaxing and taking care of yourself with all the sleep. my VERY best wishes to you, Dale!

Ruth
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:September 24th, 2011 12:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Hooray for radiation!

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You're too wonderful. I feel like you're my head cheerleader and biggest help. Thanks so much for the plant and the magic wand and the cheering phone calls and everything else. You've done way beyond what's needed.
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