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Posts Tagged ‘endocrinologist’

This year we will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. On Friday I sat across a desk from another man who announced that it was our 15 year anniversary and we both marvelled the length of our relationship. I’m afraid this isn’t a juicy confession – this other man is my Endocrinologist who diagnosed my thyroid cancer 15 years ago and has been faithfully monitoring me ever since.

I still remember that bleak afternoon when the telephone rang whilst I was chopping up vegetables, a baby and a toddler at my feet, listening to the strained voice of my doctor asking if I was alone or if my husband was there with me, before dropping the bomb-shell about the lump in my neck. Strangely I remember hanging up and continuing to chop up the carrots which suddenly affected me like onions.

But now those two little ones are teenagers taller than me – one is learning to drive and has a part-time job and the other plays piano and reads ancient history books I don’t understand. I have watched them grow from little boys into young men and what a privilege this has been.  The day I stood over the chopping board, processing the telephone call, the future wasn’t so certain.

The doctor’s office is currently going ‘soft copy’, scanning and shredding their patients’ files, so on Friday the secretary handed me a crisp white envelope containing my important medical documents. When I came home I checked through them, feeling nervous and a bit sick.  There were the first scan results from St George Hospital – fading black ink heaving under the weight of the medical jargon, describing a suspect nodule clinically and without emotion, masking its meaning and making it sound almost harmless.  But then I flicked through the transparent scans showing the offending black spot in my neck.  My stomach clenched into a knot.  That’s all it had been – a black spot on a scan – it looked like a smudge or blemish that needed a damp cloth to be wiped away – but instead it changed my life.

The report I hated seeing the most was the one indicating the black spot was still there six months after surgery and treatment, and I was to go back into hospital for a further large dose of radioactive iodine. I had been quite positive up to this point, but this setback, and a further period of separation from my babies, pushed me over the edge and life at that time seemed very dark indeed.

Eventually the spot disappeared, the scans were filed away neatly in a dusty folder and life returned to normal. Until Friday those words that dictated life or death for me had been forgotten. But remembering them has made me realise that I was one of the fortunate ones. Since then so many dear family and friends, workmates and acquaintances, have suffered the agony of watching black spots return and grow and win the battle.

Perhaps unpleasant times in our life are best forgotten. But when we are accidentally reminded, there is an opportunity to reflect and be thankful – and I don’t mean the thankfulness we feel when someone buys us a coffee or when we find those new shoes we’ve desired so much are on special. Nor do I mean the smug #gratitude type of thankfulness we post on Facebook to show off to our friends… The thankfulness I mean is the true, deep, gut-wrenching type, the kind that leaps for joy at being alive and breathing, and delights at watching our kids grow up and relishes the thought of seeing our hair turn grey, the wrinkles emerge and our upper arms grow wobbly.  This type of thankfulness leaves me teary-eyed and thanking God for every day I’ve had since the black spot vanished – even the difficult and dull days. Every day of the past 15 years has been a miraculous bonus.

So Happy Anniversary, my dear Endocrinologist  – thanks for tracking through this with me – making that awful telephone call to a young mum at dinner time, listening to all my questions, watching me cry and putting up with me every year since then, taking all those tubes of my blood, explaining what those confusing abbreviations mean (so many times), each year listening patiently to my creative excuses about why I haven’t lost weight and for your unwavering belief that I would beat this. It has been quite a journey and I’m ecstatic to still be here.  Fifteen years of bonus time!

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.         Psalm 28:7

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Do you know what I found in my son’s pocket this week?  Under a sprinkling of sand I discovered:

  • an empty juice carton;
  • a lolly wrapper;
  • a black banana stalk;
  • ear-plugs;
  • a leaf;
  • a shark tooth;
  • a sock;
  • scrunched paper with a friend’s email address;
  • a USB stick;
  • a lump of greying chewing gum.

Such a diverse and intriguing little bundle!  I cautiously sifted through this treasure-trove, picking out the valuable items and tossing the rest in the bin.   Putting on my detective’s hat I pieced together his day.  One thing I noticed is he’s sourcing lollies and gum from somewhere other than home and he sure needs to learn to use bins.   The single sock had me baffled, however does explain why I end up with so many mismatched socks on washing day.

His little stash reminds me of the rubbish I carry around some days too – the clutter in my mind.   Sometimes the  unhelpful thoughts are my own, but at other times they are the thoughts expressed by others.

A prime example happened to me recently.   Looking at ways to improve my health and lose weight, I consulted a naturopath.  All went well at first until they began probing into my health more deeply, conducting saliva tests for cortisol levels and commenting on my adrenal function.   I became more and more alarmed as I was told: ‘You poor thing, your adrenal glands are barely functioning’ and ‘your cortisol levels are incredibly low, you must be feeling so terrible!‘. Apparently the only cure was a high dose of a concoction of herbs which I should take daily for the next twelve months.

I began to feel worse and worse.   Yes, I did feel tired, exhausted in fact.  Yes, my energy levels were almost non-existent.   Poor me, I must rest and shouldn’t push myself too hard…   Perhaps my cancer has come back and after defeating my thyroid gland its come to claim my other glands as well!

But then I decided to tell my Endocrinologist, who promptly sent me to St Vincent’s Hospital for a test of my adrenal function.  He told me this was the most conclusive test available.   The test result came back as completely normal.

When I saw my doctor a fortnight ago he reassured me ‘your adrenal glands are completely normal, you are healthy, there is nothing wrong with you’.   We laughed, discussed overseas travel and I walked out ready to enjoy life again.

And guess what?  I’ve been feeling fantastic ever since. I’ve been exercising, feeling frisky, having fun, and generally loving being alive.   How could I have allowed those negative words to have such a hold over me?

It’s sobering to discover that words can actually hold the power of death.  An extreme example of this took place during World War II when Adolf Hitler forced three of his soldiers who had disobeyed his commands to undergo psychological punishment.  They were placed in cells and told that a mythical poisonous gas had been released and they only had hours to live.   When the guards went to check on them three hours later two were already dead and one was close to death.   Despite the clear air in their cells and their young, healthy bodies – the poison that killed them came from the deceitful and deadly words spoken over them.   What we believe often becomes a reality.

So if we are to clear out the rubbish in our minds, where do we start?  If words can hold the power of death, then it follows that they can also hold the power of life.   One idea is to filter negative thoughts  and consciously encourage positive ideas which lift us and build a sense of purpose.   We can surround ourselves with friends who believe in us, inspire us, make us laugh and help us to see the lighter side of life.   Perhaps it’s possible to make some changes and leave unhealthy situations where our self-esteem is copping a constant battering.

Carrying around rubbish in our minds is far more damaging than carrying it in our pocket.  Take some time to listen to your thoughts.  Are you your own worst enemy or are you being kind to yourself?   There are days when the world likes to throw stones our way and others weigh us down with their misguided ideas, but we can lighten our own load, nurture our souls and allow affirming and life-giving thoughts to quench us from the inside out. 

On my bad days, when I can’t think of anything good to say about myself, I hold on tight to the things God says about me, that he loves me dearly, has numbered every hair on my head, and gives me the strength to make it through every difficult situation.    Don’t be afraid to do some mental ‘pocket checking’ and chuck all of that unnecessary rubbish into God’s eternal garbage bin.  You’ll be glad you did.

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”   Philippians 4:8 The Message

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