Sunday, June 10, 2007

Off to Nursing School

Following completion of treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma and subsequent recovery I began nursing school. The entire time I wished it were medical school, however I was grateful for the opportunity to find a career in the health care field. I absolutely loved it and the material came very easy to me. I found that I did not need to study often as I just absorbed the information like a sponge. My marks were among the highest in the class and I often emerged from an exam 1st with the highest mark. I am sure that it is the same for any individual, once they find something that interests them, it is like second nature and it all falls into place with very little effort. Although it was not medical school I felt as though I had "found my calling" or was at least looking in the right direction.

I was able to find 2 nursing positions rather quickly after graduation, one on a day surgery floor of a hospital and the other in a long term care type hospital. I had been a stay at home mom prior to this and the freedom I felt started to adversely effect my marriage. I started to wonder if I had done the right thing marrying so young. I loved my children dearly and could not imagine life without them but I so craved a close loving marriage. At the time I did not realize just how much was missing from my marriage as I will explain in a later post.

Be back soon,

Such a long story--where do I begin

Greetings to all on my first entry!

This blog will, for the most part, be about my health struggles post- total thyroidectomy however the years prior to this tell quite a tale as well...So...I will start about 20 years back because as Oprah says, "everyone has a story." This is mine.

I truly realized that to put those difficulties into perspective I would need to outline my entire life story. Nothing, absolutely nothing has been more challenging since the time following my thyroidectomy and if you continue to read all that has occurred it will certainly put it into perspective. The thyroid gland is an essential part of ones body, effecting each and every cell and life without it is more than challenging to say the least. More challenging than all that has occurred in my life thus far, and as you read it may be hard to believe.

I decided to write my manuscript and this blog after recently watching, "The Pursuit of Happyness." I cried, not just a single glistening tear but shoulder shaking sobs. Not only because it was a touching story of human suffering and the spirit to rise above it but because it so closely paralleled my life in many ways. My story however has many other challenges as you will see if you continue to read. Cancer, marital problems, suicide, business failure, rather financial ruin that lead to losing everything, our home, all possessions, even to the point of homelessness and hunger. Many terrible things have happened and I will tell the story step by step. I hope those reading it will enjoy the experience of me purging my soul as much as I will. Actually I am again on sick leave from my job as a community nurse so when I am not napping I will be typing.

I married Paul very young, actually 2 months prior to my 18th birthday. I had my first child at 18 and my second at 20. I was young and foolish as they say and here I was with a 2 year old and a newborn baby, both boys. Little did I know that this marriage would end in a major tragedy one that would rock my soul to it's core and that of my children's forever more. That in itself is a long tale so I will save that story in order to keep this blog in a somewhat sequential order. To begin I suppose the best place would be at the cause of much damage to my body, in particular to my thyroid gland.

I remember the day vividly, the day that started my health began as a nosebleed that just would not ease. Off to the ear/nose/throat doc to be assessed. As he proceeded to cauterize the vessel he questioned, "how long have you had that lump?" The lump in question was in the middle of my neck and had been there at least a year or so. It did not hurt or bother me in any way so I just ignored it... (P.S. never ignore a lump!) This specialist felt it best to have it removed as he said, "just in case." My family doc said, "you are young and healthy and "I guarantee it is nothing serious."

(Message to my former family doc:Never make a guarantee!) Next thing I knew I was booked for surgery. I must say that there is something very CREEPY about having your throat cut...little did I know it would not be the first time that a surgeon would put a scalpel to my throat. The pathology report took 2 weeks to return and I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. There I was, 21 years old with a 2 year old and a newborn baby and the panic set in. Was I going to die? At the very least I was concerned about how I would manage this situation with 2 small children. My husband at the time was a hard working man but pretty much emotionally absent and I knew that he would never provide the support other than financially. I was however told, "this is the best kind of cancer to have." WHAT??? That statement still gets me going every time I think of it! I suppose they were just trying to make me feel better....

The following month was just a flurry of tests, scans and appointments the worst of which was a lymphangiogram. This involved having needles, actually rather large needles of dye injected between my toes and then incisions to the top of my feet to inject more dye in order to visualize the lymphatic system. This test I must say would be a great torture technique, it caused nightmares for many months and was excruciatingly painful to tolerate. It was then decided that radiation therapy would be the treatment of choice. Oh, if only I could turn back time. Never was I told of long term side effects or what my future would hold. They decided because I was so, "young and healthy" that I would be given a very high dose of radiation, daily for 6 weeks. The result of this "very high dose" was unbelievably painful 2nd and 3rd degree burns on my upper body, lower jaw, chin area and especially severe under the arms, the actual exit point for the rays. That is something I will never forget. The worst part however was that it never occurred to me at the time that these burns were nothing compared to the unseen internal damage that was going on.

I somehow managed to make it through that dreadful time despite many problems. After several months of dark and difficult days I recovered and began to look at life differently. It was then that I decided to enter nursing school. I had always wanted to be a doctor but with 2 small children and just recovering from the treatment I knew that it was not a possibility at this time. I was offered a seat in the Registered Practical Nurse program, free of charge with child care included, how could I refuse? I decided to go for it as medical school just wasn't in the cards for me any longer and I needed to move on and think about the future. I thought that the cancer would be the most difficult thing I would ever face in my life and that I had made it naive of me.

See you soon for the next entry,