Monday, April 19, 2010

You can play from the rough with your regulation thyroid

I want to write something happy and really funny here. I want to write something happy and funny but I’m a little stuck in that realm known as pro-fess-shee-unal-ism.
Here’s the problem: A while back I threw all these stories into a book for my mom via an online site. I made the reference public so that a family friend could order one too (yes, I did tell her it was also available for FREE online). Helpfully, Google picked up the reference and NOW when my name is Googled, the book shows up…with a link to this otherwise semi-anonymous site. It is my fault and a stupid mistake. I’ve tried and tried to erase the reference, but it won’t go away.

So here’s me, moved on to Philadelphia and a Postdoctoral Fellow (can I just say that I can never figure out if post doc is one word or two? Anyone?). Having survived graduate school with most of my organs in tact I now find myself facing the semi-real, although still unlikely, possibility of future employment in some sort of scientific/academic field. Even more troubling, I am currently supported by a fantastic teaching and research training grant.

How can it be both ‘troubling’ and ‘fantastic’ you ask? Well the folks who run this grant have provided me with a really awesome set-up: three years of support, lots of money for meetings and supplies, rigorous teacher training and free hoagies about once a month when we have an organizational meeting. So obviously that’s the ‘fantastic’ part. The hoagies are especially fantastic because the veggie hoagies on the platter are essentially raw broccoli and lettuce sandwiches which is both icky and genius. I think about those sandwiches a lot, but I digress.

Anyway, the ‘troubling’ part? They are pretty serious about this program and would probably prefer that I not undermine their efforts by discussing a time when I might or might not have had to suppress my gag reflex while cheerfully encouraging students to dissect cats with gangrenous livers. NOT. That did NOT happen, but if it had, what a great story that would have made for this sad, neglected blog.

So that’s where this stands. Me, stuck with the choice: entertain the two people who stop by here once every two months (yeah, I get a count on the hits) or retain the ability to make almost enough money to pay for a one bedroom apartment and health care in any major city. It’s a tough choice and I do love entertaining you but also, I really need the health care.
Which brings me to another point. The damn lump in my thyroid is now the size of a ping-pong ball. I’m not exaggerating, I put the largest diameter of the thing into Google and I got all these hits about the size of a regulation ping-pong ball. I’m glad it’s not bigger than a ‘regulation’ ball because that would just make me feel so rouge. Still, I’m a little scared and a little overwhelmed. I am not worried about cancer, that’s basically been ruled out although another biopsy will be done this week. Even if the biopsy comes back malignant the survival rate for most thyroid cancer 20 years out is something reassuring like 95%. Nope, I’m scared that I’ll have to wait another six months while this stupid lump gets bigger and then just be put off again:

“Come see me in six months.”

“I’m not too worried. Come see me in six months.”

“I tell you what, let’s check in on this again in six months? Sound good?”
No, it doesn’t sound good. It sounds stupid. Every time they check, the damn thing is bigger and bigger. This last ultrasound it was almost 50% bigger than it was a year ago. I feel it always now and it’s starting to make me feel strangely self-conscious about how I look. This is particularly crazy of me because I’m pretty sure that from a distance my ass (which is slightly larger than a golf ball) is more noticeable than a lump in my neck. But I USE my ass for sitting and the bigger it gets, the nicer it is to sit. The lump, on the other hand, seems to only serve the purpose of making me feel claustrophobic when I wear turtlenecks or drink too fast.
I also believe that Lumpolina (yeah, that’s what I’m calling it as of right now, Lumpolina. I named it. Gross!) is wreaking havoc on my energy levels. I sleep all the time. I’m not exaggerating that either. I average 12 hours a night. That means that sometimes I only sleep 10 hours but other nights/days I sleep more like 15. This was happening to me in Birmingham too but everyone, including me, just assumed that I was depressed or lazy and trying to avoid finishing my Ph.D. Well I’m nearly as happy as a clam here in Philly…a sleepy, tired, washed-out, moderately happy clam, and now I really believe I can say that something just isn’t working. I am also gaining weight at a steady clip, which is weird since I’m too busy sleeping to eat. It must be Lumpolina’s way of compensating for me. Like maybe if my ass gets to be big enough, no one will notice whether I retain “regulation” standards for ping-pong or have to move on to golf-neck. Just 0.26 cm more to reach that goal. Come see me in another six months.
So that’s the update. I’m good. I have a lump in my neck. There was absolutely no gangrenous cat dissection (but can you imagine if there was? No, don’t try. It would have been a terrible smell, had it happened.). I like it here but I’m struggling with growing up. I want to tell you all about it but can’t in case they decide to listen in and don’t like what they hear. Is that what we get for moving on and moving up? More secrets? Maybe that’s why I waited so long to get going. I must have known.
Oh, and I miss you. Yeah. You. Just know that I’m here. Even though I would like to; I just can’t tell you all about it any more, or at least not about the cats, because that didn’t happen anyway. I swear.

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