Blame it on the Thyroid

Ever since my thyroid was removed, I find it harder to lose weight, had bouts of low energy at work and frequent yawning. Then I just find myself saying, “oh, it’s my thyroid.”

My colleague found the phrase catchy and started using it as a random excuse.

“Oh, shit! I forgot to chart in the trauma flowsheet! Nah, it’s my thyroid!”

“Oooppss! I lost my pen! It’s my thyroid…”

He’s so funny I had tears running down my face.

But seriously, I’m scared. I’ve read a lot about people gaining 20-30 lbs after thyroidectomy. I thought I’d lose weight when I start using Synthroid? Some say when you have a higher dose of Synthroid, you will lose weight. I wonder why my Doctor isn’t increasing my Synthroid dose when my thyroid levels are low? No one even called to schedule me for RAI 6 weeks after the surgery. I wonder if I should call and ask. But then again, I feel skeptic about doing the RAI even if I think I should. 

“It’s my thyroid.”

When I’m irritable, I don’t know which one to blame. Is it PMS or is it my thyroid?

Poor thyroid. Getting all the blame when it’s already gone.

Life After Thyroidectomy

It’s been a whirlwind since the start of 2017. 

2016 was promising. New life. New place. New friends. New job.

But 2017 took me by surprise.

It all started when a colleague noticed a lump in my neck while giving her a report. At first I was like, what? I was trying to feel my neck but I couldn’t feel any lump. Then she guided my hands to the lump and there it was. 

I went to the restroom to check my neck on the mirror. It wasn’t that obvious. But I admit I was kind of bothered. What if it grew? It would look ugly, like I have a goiter or something. So I showed it to my close friend in ER. And she called one of our doctors to take a look at it. So he examined me and said I should try to monitor it. It might be nothing. So I just shrugged it off thinking, hey, maybe it would go away.

I also told this casually to my former preceptor and she was all like, “hey, get it checked. You know Pat? She had the exact same thing. Then for all you know, it turned out to be cancer and she had it removed. If I were you I would go see a doctor right away.”

But the thing here in the US, you can’t just walk in to a clinic to see a doctor. You have to establish a Primary Care Provider before you are seen. I asked one of our Physician Assistant to refer me a PCP. I called the office and I was scheduled for an appointment after 2 months. So the PA referred me to an ENT specialist and I was scheduled to be seen right away.

I went just to put my mind at ease. I know it was nothing. The doctor did an ultrasound and told me that the lump on my left thyroid is bigger than normal. He suggested doing a biopsy to see whether it’s cancerous or not. He made an appointment and I left.

I was afraid of the procedure. It means they would put a long needle on my neck to get some samples. I was so afraid that I cancelled the appointment. I thought to myself this would go away.

But then the PA and my other colleagues urged me to do it. Just so I can have a peace of mind.

So I called the clinic and rescheduled. The procedure was uncomfortable but it wasn’t that bad. The doctor told me he’d call me for the result after 1 week.

I was at work when the doctor called. He started saying that it was cancer. Then he started telling me the next steps and that someone will call me to arrangefor  the schedule of my surgery. They had to remove my whole thyroid.

I was trying to absorb what the doctor just said. The word cancer sounds like a farfetched idea. It seems like he’s talking about another person not me. It feels like I’m watching everything in slow motion. I have to tell J. I went to the breakroom and saw my close friend. So I dragged her inside and told her what the doctor told me. I just found myself crying and hysterical. She called our Charge Nurse so I can go home. I couldn’t talk. I just cried uncontrollably. They tried to pacify me and some of them are also crying with me. The Charge Nurse let me go home. So I called J. 

I didn’t tell J right away. When I told him he was quiet. He just let me cry. When we reached home, he hugged me tight. I just cried and cried. When I felt better, I decided to tell my family about it. My Mom wants to come here immediately. I told her I’ll be fine. 

Before I went home, my Charge Nurse let me talk to Pat, the Nurse who had the same fate as me. She told me everything there is to know about thyroid cancer. She said it’s the most treatable cancer so I don’t have to worry about it.

I just needed some time to absorb the news. I called my agency and they arranged for my short term disability and sick leave. J and I spent the rest of the day at home, with me sulking in bed. The next day, I avoided everybody who is calling. Some friends dropped by the apartment but I told J to tell them I don’t feel like talking or seeing anybody right now.

On my 3rd day, I asked J if we can spend time at the lake. It was freezing outside. We took our thick  jackets, brought some food and went to the lake. It was beautiful and peaceful. We fed the ducks and just sat there admiring the view. We went home and I was feeling much, much better.

The date of the surgery came. It all felt like a movie scene. My colleagues were very supportive of me. The sent me flowers and cards. My friends were there to pay me a visit, gave me flowers and stuffed toy and some food. Everyone was really wonderful.

I had 9 days to stay at home and rest. After that I went back to work like nothing happened. My colleagues were really nice and helpful. I find the first few weeks at work exhausting. But I think my body finally adjusted to the Synthroid I’m taking every morning before breakfast.

I’m doing okay so to speak. I have learned to appreciate life and the people around me more. I am truly blessed for everything despite of. 

Who would’ve thought I’d be able to survive this? I’m amazed myself. I feel like I’m stronger than before. After all, I am a survivor.

My Life in the US

It’s been more than a year since I came here. It was a mixture of excitement and fear. I was excited to be in a new place, meet new friends and start a new life with J. Fear of what will happen and what my new job in another ER will be.

J and I finally lived in an apartment of our own and driving our own car. Since I’m the only one working for now, J became a house husband taking care of all our needs, all the cooking and cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, ironing etc. We finally got used to the arrangement. My salary is just right for us. Living in this part of Texas is cheap. So we were able to get by and save some. 

My work place is huge. I was overwhelmed at first. This is the real deal. My new colleagues gave me a warm welcome. They were really nice and supportive. There was no hostility around. There was no negative energy. Everyone is helping one another. Even the Doctors are nice. No one is superior. No one yells at you. The Charge Nurse, the Nurse Supervisors are all great. The only stress we have is the workload. There are a lot of sick patients. I tell you, even the patients here are nice. You might encounter one or two rude patients but they’re usually on drugs or they have psychiatric problems.

The people here will smile at you and greet you. They will open doors for you. The place is simple. No tall buildings around. Just a small town with trees and greeneries.

I’m loving this place.I cannot tell how much. It’s been more than a year now and I couldn’t complain. 

Starting a New Life in a 46kg Luggage

 

photo credits from Pinterest

 
As I stare at the mess in our room, the travel bags, mountainful of clothes, unkempt laundry, documents and other trinkets, I feel so overwhelmed that I can’t help but to reminisce.

More than 5 years ago, I started my life in Abu Dhabi, UAE with a 30kg luggage on hand. I had $1000 and a pocketful of hope. I eventually found a job, rented a 900dhs bed space in a cramped bedroom and started living independently. I met new friends and built new memories away from home.

I married a year after (to my boyfriend of 12 years) and moved out. We accumulated a lot of stuffs and memories together.

Now onto the next chapter, we’re finally heading another path. In 12 days, we’ll be moving out to another country.

I started by emptying out our drawers and found a lot of sentimental stuff that may not mean so much to other people, but it means a whole lot to us. How can I throw away the small love notes that we leave everytime we don’t see each other? And how about the things we bought that we love so much but can’t bring it with us? I guess we have been too attached to things and memories that it makes it hard for us to let go.

Then I remembered the 30kg luggage when I started my life here. It may look so easy but before I came down to 30kg, I had a hard time parting with the things I love. But I was able to go through it without any regret.

Now that I’m gonna start a brand new life in another country with my husband, trying to fit our lives in a 46kg luggage each is also a big challenge. But as we try to sort out again and again the things we need to bring from the things we need to let go whole heartedly, we finally learn that starting all over again and leaving the old stuff behind is the only way to do it. 

Now, as I stare into the pile of accumulated things and memories, I think I’m ready to start a whole new life with my husband.

Nursing. It’s not for EVERYONE.

  I don’t think Nursing is for me. 

Nursing is for people who have a lot of patience, who can endure long hours of work (and additional hours if required), who can sacrifice family and other important matters just to be there for the patients. Nursing is for those who can tolerate being shouted at, berrated and demanded of all the things needed to be done, sometimes forgetting that a Nurse has some needs too, which is frequently ignored in order to fulfill his/her duty. Nursing is for those who can maintain their composure even if the people around them are insulting them or trying to put them down.

Nursing is for people who goes out of their way helping patients in need even if it’s out of their job description. Nursing is for those who knows how to separate their own personal feelings when they have done the best they could and still lose a patient. Nurses strive to help the sick and the dying, even risking their own health. 

Nursing is for those who can work even if they are not appreciated for all the hard work they’ve done. Nursing is for those who feels that even if the world around them seems to crumble, a simple and sincere gesture from someone who finally appreciated them means a whole lot more than a plaque or an award from the hospital management. 

All of that said, and being a Nurse for almost 8 years, I know that this job is not for me. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve gone through all these things. I saw that despite the working condition of the Nurses, they are one of the happiest people I know. Team work is highly developed and they will be your family away from home. 

But I cannot imagine myself doing this for the rest of my life. I am not a people person. I am happiest working on my own space away from the crowd. I derive my energy doing things on my own in a systematic way. I love to write. I love to read. I love observing people. I love talking to them about their life. I love to ponder on things.  I love to just be in a corner and enjoy nature, listen to people chat without being interested, watching stray cats and birds flocking, or anything that looks interesting. I love a small crowd of people whom I share the same point of view. I love nonsense conversations as well as intelligent ones. I am happiest when I can be with myself.

Nursing can define a person. Not all Nurses are alike. I’ve seen Nurses who are truly dedicated to service. Those are the kind of Nurses who should be running the hospitals.

Nursing is not a career. It is a calling. I salute all the Nurses out there around the world. You have all my respect. You are a modern day hero. 

As for me, well, I hope I can finally find my true calling. I am still a Nurse though, in a true sense of the word. It’s a tough job. But I still think it’s not for me.

Ella’s Bookshelf

 
   I’ve been chatting with my Nursing school college friends on Facebook messenger group chat, when I just suddenly told them to read a book which is highly recommended by Ella’s Bookshelf. I just coined the term without giving any thought about it. My friend seemed to find the name a bit catchy and told me why not start a blog and name it Ella’s Bookshelf. I quickly waved it off and thought that I don’t even have enough time to read much less to blog. I mean, I do have THIS blog, which I rarely visit. How can I even start a new one? Although it’s a really nice idea. Then my friend talked about writing a review about the books I’ve read and they will just visit my blog to see which books are highly recommended by me. Then another friend replied and she seemed excited about the idea of a new blog. 

Ella’s Bookshelf. I do have a lot in mind on what to write.  Now I’m thinking about it. It makes a lot of sense to write a review on every book that I read. I’m not after the viewers, the stats, or the number of visitors who leave a comment. I’m a very, very private person. I just want to write my thoughts whenever I feel like it. 

Now my problem is, how do I start?

Trying to Stay Positive in a Negative Environment

I’ve been diligently reading books and articles about positive thinking, being happy, and watching videos or listening to positive affirmations over and over. I’ve been doing this on and off ever since I can remember.

But it’s so easy to forget everything I’ve learned once I get overwhelmed at work. I work as a Registered Nurse in a hospital, in an Emergency Room. Imagine how stressful that place is. I don’t think I need to give you a mental picture. I know you can imagine how full of negative energy the atmosphere is. 

I often arrive home from work exhausted, upset from being shouted at by patients, patient’s relatives or friends, doctors, other nurses, not to mention the overwhelming workload from being understaffed and trying to juggle one patient to another. I often find myself shouting back, defending myself and feeling that I had enough. I almost want to quit.

But I’m not a quitter. Whenever I go home and try to do some meditation or listen to audiobooks regarding positive affirmations and positive thinking, I often wonder if I’m on the right place. Do I really like my job? Am I happy and contented in my chosen career? And in my heart, there was a faint feeling of hesitancy. 

I may read all the books about positive thinking. I may meditate often. But if I’m not happy with where I am, I don’t think it’ll work. I know what I just said is negative. But I also learned that, to be able to be happy, you must love what you do.

That’s the conflict I’m in right now. How do I stay positive in a very negative place? It’s like trying to go in an exit or trying to go out in an entrance. People will block your way. It’s like trying to defy gravity. Gravity always wins. Then you stop struggling and just go with the flow.

Now this is my challenge. For 60 days, I will try to listen to positive affirmations until it’s embedded in my subconciousness. I will not give up. I want to see if I can remain like a lotus flower. I will rise and bloom amidst the murky water.



Living in a Muslim Country

I’ve been living in a Muslim country for more than 5 years now. The first time I came here, I was woken up by the prayer in a mosque nearby. I thought I was dreaming. For a while there, I felt lost and confused as to where I am at that moment. I hear the Muslim prayer everywhere: in the bus, in the supermarket, even in the ringtones of some Muslims. I got used to it eventually. Even if I don’t understand it, it felt sacred and peaceful.

Everywhere around, you can see a mosque. Muslims pray 5 times each day called salah. I admire their faith and dedication. Almost everyone greets you Assalamualaikum (peace be upon you). Everyone calls each other brother or sister. It makes me think that Muslim people are peace-loving people in general. But it makes me confused as to why there is war in the Middle Eastern countries.

I was able to embrace the Muslim culture. I have a very high respect for the Muslim community. I have learned some Arabic words like Bismillah (in the name of Allah/God), Masha’allah (in God’s will, or something as an expression of appreciation), Insha’allah (God-willing), and some other positive or good Arabic words that use to praise or greet a Muslim.

I still preserve my Christianity though. I was born and raised a Catholic and I still observe the Catholic traditions. I am very thankful for this country for allowing other people to practice their religion. I was taught in Catholic school to respect other religions as well, because we all pray to one God.

I am not purely religious though. Religion doesn’t dictate my faith. My faith is between God and me; respect in humanity, in all living things, and the world we live in.

Being in a Muslim country has taught me the true meaning of Faith. It taught me that we are all brothers and sisters regardless of race and religion. I still don’t understand why there is war though. But one thing I’ve learned is that, being a Muslim doesn’t associate one as being a terrorist.

I love my Muslim brothers and sisters. Peace be upon you. Assalamualaikum.

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Morning Has Broken

I diligently programmed myself yesterday to start waking up early everyday at 4 o’clock in the morning. Early mornings, right when everyone else lies peacefully sleeping in their beds, are the most peaceful and the most valuable moments to start off your day right, as Robin Sharma points out in his book. This is the golden time where you can think clearly and appreciate everything in your life. Starting your day right means programming yourself that no matter what happens during the entire day, you will end the day still feeling great about yourself.

I started off by writing down 5 short term goals in the night, unplugging the technologies that offers distraction, and spending quality time with my husband. Right before sleep, I vowed on self-discipline to be able to reach my short term goals.

And so, my alarm went on at 4 o’clock in the morning, did some yoga exercise for 15 minutes, ab workout for another 15 minutes (eherm…um, yeah), and studied my ACLS manual.

At 5:45 am, I went to the kitchen to fix some breakfast and finish just in time as my husband woke up. Then we had breakfast together before he went for work.

It feels refreshing and invigorating to do a lot of things in such a short period of time. When you program yourself everyday to think that today is your last day on earth makes you do things that you feel happy doing. It just feels great.

I wish everyone to be at their best everyday. Live as if it’s your last.

Stress-free

Ever since I started reading the books of Robin Sharma, watched his videos on Youtube while preparing for work, I began feeling less stressed.

There are too many distractions to keep you from finding your inner self. Most of our time are taken away by technology, by our problems, and other things that are bugging our minds. It’s so easy to complain and stay in our comfort zone. We fail to realize that once life gets harder, it means you’re leveling up, and when you surpass that level, it feels great. Achieving something takes hard work. Nothing comes easy. We must learn to see hardships not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity to grow and learn more about life.

Life is beautiful. In all sense of the word, I have finally realized what it means. In order to see it’s beauty, avoid all the unnecessary clutter in your life and try to focus on what’s more important. We must live in simplicity. Too many choices can deplete your mind. Did you ever experience buying something and when you get to the store, you are faced with so many choices that you spend so much time choosing what you really want?

We must practice self-discipline. We must learn to master our thoughts. And in order to achieve that, we must eliminate all the unnecessary clutter that distract us.

Have a nice day.