Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A State of Health

Last week Wonderful Wife and I visited Dana-Farber for my bimonthly surveillance checkup.

The punch line? All clear.

I'm still cancer-free.

It has now been more than eight months since treatment ended. I'm one third of the way through the two-year period in which my type of cancer recurs if it is going to.

Dr. Chemo did a thorough exam of my neck and tongue and then put the scope in my nose to look directly at the base of my tongue on video. All good.

She told me my neck feels "exquisite".

Wonderful Wife likes to touch my neck. The skin is still hairless and baby soft.

Before the exam I had blood work for the first time since the fall. Dr. Chemo told me I am hypothyroid - my thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormones. I have to start taking thyroid supplements, which I am likely to take for the rest of my life.

Strangely, the main symptoms of hypothyroidism in adults are fatigue/lethargy and mental fogginess. I feel the opposite of that. Over the past few weeks I'm really feeling like my old self - energetic and in "getting shit done" mode, both at work and at home. I feel energized both mentally and physically.

The main remaining side effects are pretty much the same: lack of taste and saliva. I think taste is coming back a little. I'd still put it somewhere around 30% of normal (if that) but once in a while something tastes kind of good for a change. I'm still well inside the normal window for those issues to improve.

In other news: I've started riding my bike to work again. Before cancer I had commuted to work by bike for eight years. The last time I had ridden was the day before my first chemo treatment last June. I worried that with significant weight and muscle loss I would feel very weak when I got back on my bike. I was pleased to find otherwise. I'm definitely not as strong, obviously, but I'm not nearly as far down the fitness ladder as I thought I would be.

Perhaps some of that is do to walking. I walk a mile each way from the train station to my office. I have a Fitbit that I obtained as part of a research project at work three years ago and I carry it everywhere in my pocket. I've been averaging about 15,000 steps per day for the past several months. I guess that counts for something.

As I wrote in the last post, I'm feeling quite happy. This morning I was especially happy on my way to work even though I was walking in a light rain.

We got a puppy at the end of February after years of consideration and months of careful thinking about breed and the responsibility. Rhodie is an English Springer Spaniel. I've been wondering today how much she is contributing to this happiness I'm feeling. I was the most reluctant family member when it came to getting a dog, but I think Rhodie is turning me into a dog person. She is so happy to see me in the morning and when I get home from work, and so sweet when we put her in her crate at our bedtime. I suppose that has to be contributing at least a little.

Regardless of the reason, I'm enjoying life today.

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