June 10th, 2021

blueglass

i gave at the office

labs for my annual physical and preliminary screening for autoimmune disorders, plus my annual thyca blood work that i stalled on for seven months: five vials full in the bin.

now, we wait.

this is the annual check for elevated levels of thyroglobulin, known for post-thyroidectomy thyca patients as "the tumor marker" because a spike in the protein can mean there's thyroid tissue and/or a cancerous nodule somewhere in the body. or it can mean rare antibodies, or it can mean i dunno, bodies are weird. in any case, it necessitates all kinds of follow up screening, some of it invasive, all of it exhausting, especially right now.

as you can imagine, it's not my favorite wait. and at least as of a few years ago, only one lab on the west coast tests for TG, so it could be a good week before we get results. this had scaled back to being a pretty mild healthcare stressor, then all the advanced screening stuff in 2015 and it's back to portal checks ten times a day during business hours.

two pieces of advice to the medically uninitiated:

1. maybe you've done some research, maybe you know somebody, maybe you've needed some advanced screening yourself, but unless you are a fellow survivor or a medical professional in the field with whom i have consented to discuss the matter, do not presume to explain thyroid cancer, treatment, or follow-up care to me, someone who actually lives in that world. there's all kinds of shit you could not possibly know. even if you're smarter than me, you haven't lived here for the last nine years, you haven't had hundreds of conversations with practitioners and other survivors, you haven't lost friends to it, you don't have the books and the reports and a two inch scar across your throat where part of you used to be. strive not to be that person, the one insistently and repeatedly droning on about what's really going on, suggesting supplements, reiki, changes to my medication or lifestyle, eating "keto," accupuncture, naturopathy, homeopathy, positive thinking, conspiracy theory or critiques about "western medicine" (which, no, what people are actually talking about with that racist verbage is institutional, secular, regulated medicine, medicine that was not solely developed in the "west," medicine for which there are at least structures for accountability and supportive networking, all things that can save lives and money. p.s. fuck you, forces in my life that have repeatedly given me cause to defend our dangerously compartmentalized, classist, racist, sexist, ableist healthcare system! this was not the hill i wanted to die on.) just, in general. don't be someone who explains thyroid cancer or how to "cure" it to me, a thyroid cancer patient, as a healthy spectator with little to no investment in the realities of living with thyroid cancer. no matter what my demonstrated response, the amount of emotional labor these conversations necessitate is incredibly exhausting. suggestion? if you are interested in this topic, or maybe do the work to realize that what's driving such lectures actually goes back to fear about it, consider listening to my lived experience, instead.

2. got blood work? do yourself and the phlebotomist a favor and pound 20oz of water a half hour before sitting down in the chair. it will be easier to find a vien, probably you can receive the standard needle, and the whole thing is over with a lot faster when you aren't dehydrated. especially when you've been fasting for 12 hours and need five vials worth, yeesh.

cicadas everywhere. ben's carried up two to the apartment so far. we let them out through the window. they've landed on me in the park, down the walk, in the doctor's office parking lot. a week ago, waiting to unload groceries: