Health And Weight Update

The news in brief – Still no all-clear on the thyroid cancer but surgery to remove a cataract appears to have been successful and I continue to lose weight which has resulted in my blood pressure returning to normal.

The news in detail – My life continues to be a roller coaster ride with the latest downer being the results of my one year follow up scan for thyroid cancer.  They have referred me for a CT scan on my facial bones and neck.  What pushes my buttons about this is that they told the CT scan people more about my condition in a little referral slip than they have told me in the past two years!

According to the referral form they have referred me for this additional scan because there was “atypical uptake in the left maxillary alveolar ridge” in my last scan.  In the letter they sent me asking me to get another scan the information about my condition was a lot less forthcoming!  All they saw fit to tell me was: “There is a small area that we would like to assess further with a CT scan”.

I searched the term “maxillary alveolar ridge” and discovered it is the part of the jawbone that the teeth are rooted in.  If there are cancer cells in my jaw bone I suspect I might be in trouble but I guess they don’t think I need to know that just yet.

It gets worse!  According to the referral slip the teeny, tiny, insignificant little cancer they found in my left thyroid hemisphere was actually a more dangerous variety of thyroid cancer than the large lump that was in my right thyroid hemisphere.  They told me about the second lump but they never bothered to tell me I had two different TYPES of cancer!

The referral slip says: “Stage III FTC of follicular variant and papilliary microcarcinoma”.

I’ve had the scan done but I won’t get the results, or whatever information they decide to share with me, until late December because I am not booked to see them again until then.

I’m not giving this issue too much attention right now, however, because I am more concerned with something else.  I had eye surgery to remove a cataract three days ago and I’m waiting to see (hehehe) how that turns out.  It’s looking (chuckle) good so far but I gather it takes about a month for the eye to heal completely so it will be a while yet before I can be certain there will be no infection etc.

I’ll worry about the cancer when, or if, the doctors tell me there is something to worry about.

The surgery was done at a different hospital and it was most uncomfortable but the staff, except for the guy who sedated the eye, were great and even he improved in his treatment of me as soon as he heard I have a job.  My eye simply refused to go completely numb despite several repeat applications of numbing drops and two injections.  This meant I kept jumping whenever they irrigated the eye which they had to do repeatedly during surgery.  The nurse noticed this and made a point of waiting until the surgeon had removed the instruments from my eyeball before irrigating.  She told the doctor she was doing this and he made a point of removing the instrument so she could irrigate.  End result was no accidental injuries to my eye caused by me jumping while there was a sharp tool inside my eyeball!

They eye was covered by an eye patch after surgery and it didn’t hurt much except for a brief period of intense stinging as the drops began wearing off.  A couple of panadol fixed that and there has been nothing much apart from slight irritation at the corners since.  The next day I discovered my sight was improved despite things being a bit blurry.  It’s as if someone has turned the contrast up and things are brighter and clearer!

Next step is to get the all clear from my optometrist to drive and a new prescription for reading glasses.  I do have a cataract in the other eye but they tell me it’s only 2 or 3 on a scale of one to ten where the one that was removed was ranked at 7 or 8.  I may have to have the other cataract removed some time in the future but it’s not bad enough to worry about yet.

In other news, I no longer have to take blood pressure medication every day, yay!  I developed high blood pressure after the radioactive iodine treatment but I lost weight recently and my blood pressure was back to normal at my last test.  During the eye surgery they took my blood pressure at least a dozen times (before, during, and after the surgery) and every time it was excellent so I no longer have to take daily medication for that!

Speaking of the weight loss – it’s a new diet – it has nothing to do with having cancer.

I went on a diet about three months ago.  I weighed over 50 kilograms more than the recommended “top” weight for my age and height when I started and I have now lost 17 of those kilograms so I have come a long way.  There is still another 35 or so to go but I am still losing weight so I am not giving up yet.

The diet was triggered by how much better I felt when my body was relieved of the burden of weight by being submerged in water whilst swimming in Thailand.  The contrast between how I felt in the water and how I felt as I walked out of the pool and gravity took hold again was just astounding.  In the water I felt like I was only 20 or 30 years old – no aches or pains anywhere.  Out of the water I felt like I was an 80 year old decrepit heap and there were aches and pains in every part of my body!

I’ve tried dieting before without much success so this time I decided to go back to eating the way I used to when I was young, poor, and slim.  Back then I couldn’t afford to overeat and I didn’t have to feed children three times a day so I used to eat one meal a day.  With no money to spare I couldn’t afford snack foods or sweets so icecream, chocolate, cake, chips and that sort of thing was a rare treat and one that was usually paid for by someone else!

At the start of the diet the plan was just to limit my eating to whatever I could fit into my stomach in one meal and, if I couldn’t fit it in at that single meal, I couldn’t have it at any other time of the day.  I have relaxed that rule a bit and allow myself a couple of bits of fruit as snacks once or twice a day but I save my eating for one pig-out per day and it is working so far.

What this means is I am missing out on nothing!  I have pizza – a whole pizza if I can fit it in too!  I have fish and chips, burgers, pasta, anything I want I can have provided I can fit it into my stomach in one sitting.

About a month after I began the diet I saw a series of documentaries on “The men who made us fat” I think it was called.  The series provided me with a couple of guidelines and they are as follows:

1. Sugar is evil!
Sugar switches off the brains mechanism for signalling a full stomach and it leads to over eating so I avoid sugar as much as possible.  According to the documentary the biggest sugar demon is soft drinks but I drink diet coke so I don’t have to worry about that one.

2. Low fat means high sugar and sugar is evil so don’t fall for it!
The food industry fought tooth and nail to shift the blame for growing obesity levels away from sugar and this led to fats taking the fall.  According to the documentary “When you remove fat from food you are left with food that tastes like cardboard so the food industry replaces flavour by adding sugar in place of the fat it has removed.”

3. Snacking is evil!
According to research the number of calories we consume in snacks throughout the day have no effect on the number of calories we will consume at mealtimes.  It may dictate when we want our meal but it won’t reduce how much we want to eat at that time. So, in laymans terms, every snack is EXTRA calories per day!

In my diet, theoretically, if I want to eat a whole blackforrest cake or stuff my face with packets of chips, chocolate, icecream etc I can.  The only restriction is that I can’t have anything else before or after it and I have to eat it all in one “meal”.

In reality, when cravings for such items hit, my body knows these foods won’t satisfy my appetite for 24 hours.  Giving myself the choice has led, every single time, to preferring a more substantial meal that will take longer to digest over swiftly digested sugar hits.

When the craving for a muffin hits it is easier to cope if you can tell yourself you can have it for dessert but you just have to wait until dinner time.  I usually choose to leave it in the shop because I know I will eat it if I buy it but knowing I CAN eat it if I really want to makes leaving it in the shop easier for some reason.  I back up the decision to leave it in the shop by reminding myself it is nothing but a well disguised lump of sugar and sugar is EVIL!

So that’s my diet and it’s working well so far.  No doubt I will have to get a whole lot stricter on myself once my weight comes closer to where it should be but I will worry about what foods I eat and how much of them I eat in my one meal a day when weight loss slows and just eating once a day is no longer enough to lose weight on.

I’ve had some lapses but they tend to involve one evil sugary snack or a second meal but this isn’t about looking good so I don’t give myself too much grief about it when it happens.  There is plenty of time.  This is about FEELING good and I feel heaps better already so there’s plenty of incentive to keep trying.

So far my blood pressure has returned to normal, my knees don’t hurt so much, I don’t get as breathless with exertion and I think my body actually appreciates not having to constantly work to digest food and snacks as there is no more heartburn or sluggishness except when I do have two meals.  I don’t feel like I’m 20 or 30 again but I no longer feel like I’m 80 either!