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George Clingerman       XNADevelopment.com

eyebrowring_thumb I wrote a post a bit ago that was kind of a bummer. If you didn’t like that one, I suggest you move alone right now because this one is going to make that one look like rainbows and unicorns. I’ve already mentioned this has been a rough year, but well, I didn’t go into a lot of details. Now I’m going to because lately I’ve been having to pass on a lot of speaking opportunities and I’ve been dropping the ball on a lot of things that I normally help out with (Code Camp and PAXNAUG just to name a few). Rather then trying to explain to each person individually what’s going on (although I’ve already done that for some of my closer friends), I figured I would just lay it all out there for all of geekdom to enjoy.

My wife has been battling depression for a while. It’s been something we’ve learned to deal with over the years and we had all sort of strategies for getting through the rough spots. Well this year has been a little different, when she felt the oncoming symptoms of another round of depression and we begin to bunker down to get through it, rather then dropping into a little (albeit serious) depression, she nose dived off the 1,000 foot platform and plunged deep and fast into the murky black tar pits of despair. Since then she’s been contemplating suicide on an hourly basis and couldn’t get her mind off thoughts of taking her life.

Kind of a bad place to be and it happened fast. Oddly fast.

We started dealing with it right away however. Psychologist visits two days a week and daily checkins with the psychologist as well. We also met with the psychiatrist and got started on some Zoloft and Ambien (so she could actually fall asleep at night instead of shaking and trembling all night long). Per the psychologists instructions we went through the house and gathered up all the items Wifey had considered using to take her life. Talk about one morbid pile. I then removed the items I could from the house and hid the rest. She’s not even allowed to shave without me watching (not a bad thing though, I’m definitely not going to complain about having to watch my wife shave her legs! Sexy!). We also came up with ways for her to communicate how close to suicide she was feeling without having to use a lot of words. Days where she’s hanging around a 5 or 7 are good days. Days at an 8 or 9 I don’t leave her side much and if we hit a 10 I’m probably busting down a door and calling 911.

It’s been a bit scary, but we’re dealing with it. The Zoloft has finally kicked in so the number of times she’s hanging out a 8 or 9 on the suicide watch scale are rarer. Things are getting better. And we’re hoping this week gets even better. Let me explain what’s special about this week.

Jan15 You see, the week I went to the MVP summit (which I almost didn’t, but luckily got friends and family help watch for me and I checked in hourly up at the summit with my wife), Wifey came down with strep throat. She had to go into the doctor so he could confirm it and prescribe her some antibiotics.During the visit the doctor noticed visibly that her thyroid was enlarged. A couple of doctor visits and one biopsy later and it was confirmed that she had thyroid cancer. So there’s some hope (I know crazy that cancer gave us some hope!).

The hope is that the thyroid cancer was causing her chemicals to go all out of wack (an official medical term I’m sure) and that’s why she spiked so quickly into suicidal waters. At least that’s what her psychologist, psychiatrist and I are all theorizing. We’ll soon know though because the surgery is this week.

That’s right, on Wednesday my beautiful, suicidal and cancerous wife will go under the knife to have her thyroid removed. It should be a pretty straightforward surgery but it’s definitely still something that’s pretty nerve-wracking (especially for someone already dealing with depression…).

If you’ve been paying attention you’ll notice that I’ve covered two of the three things I love about my wife. Suicidal and cancerous. But radioactive? That’s the last bit of fun that we just recently learned about. Apparently if you’re going to get cancer, thyroid cancer is the way to go. They remove the cancer and then lucky you, you won’t need to go through chemotherapy or anything. In fact, all you have to do is take these iodine pills. These radioactive iodine pills. We’re still not sure about all the details of these pills but from what we’ve been reading online (and depending on state laws) she may have to be placed into isolation for a period of a few days to up to a month. If she’s allowed to come home she’s apparently not supposed to have human contact or even sit on the same couch with anybody for any length of time.

Those are going to be fun times. Especially with 4 young boys all wanting to give their radioactive mother a hug! We’ll know more after the surgery, but I’m expecting this month to get very interesting! We’re still debating over what type of mutation she’s going to grow. She was hoping for something cool like flight or laser beam eyes but I’m convinced it’s going to be some useless or lame mutation like being able to speak with a perfect British accent whenever she wants. No one ever gets the cool mutations anymore!

Jan23 So things do sound a bit rough, but on the bright side, things could be a lot worse. We have great insurance that has been covering all of the mental health issues we’re battling. We’ve been on top of and dealing with each thing coming our way and really we’re doing ok. It could be a fast growing cancer and it’s not. It could be a cancer that requires chemo and it’s not. The kids have been adjusting but they’re great little men and have always been a help out around the house and they love taking care of mom. They’re really sweet with her and I’ve always taught them  that she’s the queen and we all serve her. We’ve had lots of help from friends and family and the doctors. So really even those things seem like an overwhelming mess, we’ve had the strength and the resources to deal with them.

Anyway, I know I don’t want to keep writing these depressing posts, I really wish I could show everyone that things really are going well for me, I’m actually smiling and happy right now. And Wifey *IS* getting better. She’s really been great. (If you want to check out a couple of my wife’s posts from her perspective read these ones here and here. She’s a great writer and pretty brave just to be sharing.) Even battling with depression she still try's to do nice sweet things for me when she’s having a “clear” moment (thanks again for my comic books the other day!). So yes, definitely not everything is bad and I don’t want everyone feeling sad, but I did want to explain why I might be being a flake in other areas right now. I’m kind of internally focused right now so if you’ve been waiting for a response from me or wanted me to speak or help out with something, I seriously apologize, but you’ve been re-prioritized right now (down in case you hadn’t figured that out…).

I think if anyone else out there is struggling with anything like this, I would just say make sure you’re being proactive. Don’t put off getting treatment. Mental illness is a serious thing and don’t lose a love one because you’re embarrassed by it or you think it will just go away. Tackle these things head on and get the help you need. Lean on friends when you need them. People in your life care about you and let that care and love re-charge you and give you the energy you need to get through it.

But there you have it, that’s what is going on in my life and I love my suicidal, cancerous and radioactive wife.

Posted on Sunday, May 3, 2009 5:23 PM | Back to top


Comments on this post: Suicidal, Cancerous and Radioactive: Three things I love about my wife

# re: Suicidal, Cancerous and Radioactive: Three things I love about my wife
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oh g-toon ... you just made me teary and smile all at the same time. I love you guys. *smoochies* (those are mostly for my wifey.. lol)
Left by la on May 03, 2009 5:42 PM

# re: Suicidal, Cancerous and Radioactive: Three things I love about my wife
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G'day George, thanks for posting, my "Wifey" (yes, same name!) read it and cried. It's good for me to be reminded how important the important things are. I hope the operation goes spectacularly.
Left by Thomas Williams on May 03, 2009 10:11 PM

# re: Suicidal, Cancerous and Radioactive: Three things I love about my wife
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I hope she glows in the dark... I think the boys would love that...

Good luck Shawna with the op and good luck George with the boys.
Left by Andy on May 03, 2009 10:13 PM

# re: Suicidal, Cancerous and Radioactive: Three things I love about my wife
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George, you are doing great! You and Shawna being so open really helps many people. You have many people praying for all of you. We will be on prayer over-drive for you guys for a while. Try to rest. Tell Shawna how much she is loved.
Left by Karie Snodgrass on May 03, 2009 11:46 PM

# re: Suicidal, Cancerous and Radioactive: Three things I love about my wife
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Breast cancer in 2005 eventually helped me seek treatment and lifted me out of years of depression, starting me on a spiritual quest that continues to enrich and sustain me. To be honest, I'd rather deal with cancer and chemo than depression anyday.

Once I got treatment, I was able to realize the tremendous effect the depression and irritability had on my wonderful husband. It wasn't easy for him but he stuck with me and loved me through it. You're a hero, George, whether you realize it or not. And Shawna, it is possible to get past the darkness. May God bless you both and your family.
Left by marydear259 on May 04, 2009 3:35 AM

# re: Suicidal, Cancerous and Radioactive: Three things I love about my wife
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George:
Thanks for posting. It helps to see others going through similar things.
My wife had onset of bipolar disorder at upper 30's and suddenly was a different person. Medication helped a great deal, but it took a long time to find the right balance.
I don't presume to second guess the doctors, but your wife's symptoms sound remarkably like bipolar disorder type I. Depression, lack of sleep (I am presuming because she was prescribed Ambien), and suicidal thoughts. In bipolar disorder the lack of sleep is usually because of mania and racing thoughts. I only mention this because if she has biploar disorder, treating it with anti-depressives alone actually makes the mania and suicidal thoughts worse.
You are in our prayers.
Scott
Left by Scott Miller on May 04, 2009 12:01 PM

# re: Suicidal, Cancerous and Radioactive: Three things I love about my wife
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George,

I will keep your wife, you, your kids and your family (extended that is) in my prayers. I will pray that your wife's surgery is a complete success and that this will result in a stabilizing of her depression. You are loved.

Praying for you,

Andrew
Left by Andrew Karr on May 05, 2009 8:46 AM

# re: Suicidal, Cancerous and Radioactive: Three things I love about my wife
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A grim tale George but here's hoping for that magical and happy ending. just noted Wifey's posts on her blog after surgery, she's looking (fantastic BTW), at least the scar is low on her neck so that should improve her wardrobe choices for keeping it covered.
I bet the Kids are also overjoyed to have her back now.

Being in a family with different troubles I can fully understand where your coming from, so chin up and time to get on with life.
P.S.
Has her british accent started yet, yay brits!! :-) ("core blimey" and "Evenin Govn'er". We really dont speak like that, lol)

I'm guessing she will have a better mutation like t he ability to scrap at a phenomenal rate ;-)
Left by Simon (Darkside) Jackson on May 08, 2009 1:45 AM

# re: Suicidal, Cancerous and Radioactive: Three things I love about my wife
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My prayers are with you at this time. Best of luck!
Left by Brian Scarbeau on May 11, 2009 4:11 AM

# re: Suicidal, Cancerous and Radioactive: Three things I love about my wife
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Hang in there. All I can say is that we've been there too, and you get through it. Depression, thyroid, and radioactive, in that order.

And I hugged my radioactive wifey anyway.

Cheer up,
Joran
Left by Joran Omark on May 14, 2009 8:19 PM

# re: Suicidal, Cancerous and Radioactive: Three things I love about my wife
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Just found your site while looking for XNA tutorials.
Hope every thing is ok by now, this post is old...

normaly I would not reply on blog post and so.....

but did you know that suicidal thoughts can be an side effect of anti depression medicine....
Left by annonymous on Feb 11, 2010 10:26 AM

# re: Suicidal, Cancerous and Radioactive: Three things I love about my wife
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Yeah, things are going better. Thanks for leaving a comment. And yes, I know that anti-depression medicine can cause suicidal thoughts. I know a lot about this whole situation.

However, she wasn't on anti-depression medication at the time. So no link there.
Left by George W. Clingerman on Feb 11, 2010 10:52 AM

# re: Suicidal, Cancerous and Radioactive: Three things I love about my wife
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What a wife you have! That's a life with so much thrill! Hahaha. Without those obstacles that you always try to overcome, life would be boring. And it does feel so good when you finally overcome your problems. Wish you all the best.
Left by Boiler Problem on Jun 03, 2010 11:48 AM

# re: Suicidal, Cancerous and Radioactive: Three things I love about my wife
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My wife had Thyroid cancer too and had it surgically removed a year ago. Here is something that both you and her should know:
1) At any point (be it 8 days or 8 months after the RAI), she may get a swollen salivary gland. It swells because of the RAI blocking the passage, and it may get as big as an egg-half on her neck/jaw just below the ear. This will swell up immediately, BUT, it is a common side effect to the RAI. It will go down with ice or heat massaging, and it can inflame as quickly as within 20 minutes. So, make sure she knows this and be aware this could pop-up. My wife was "told" about this before the RAI treatment, but had this happen 8 months after she took the RAI, and doctors said it was normal and there is nothing to panic about.

2) After having test results in your hands when you are at the clinic and the doctor is present, have the doctor tell you what those test results mean. Me and my wife dismissed our doctor without any questions only until we read the test results and started developing questions about what this and that means. And trust me, THE INTERNET is not a viable source of information.

3) Avoid having you or your wife read up on statistics about Thyroid cancer or user experiences online. The truth is, the only people who continue writing about their experiences with having a thyroidectomy are those who had problems and complications. Best piece of advice: avoid the stress and just trust the doctors.

4) The Low Iodine diet is horrible, and avoid going to eat at restaurants. Just because the chef may say they make things with non-iodized salt, or Kosher salt, doesn't mean the processed foods they get already have not had any dairy or salty treatments to it. Best advice for the low iodine diet: download the cookbook for free from Thyca.org and make those dishes--they are pretty good even if they don't use iodized or dairy foods.

5) Stay healthy. This means both feel and eat healthy. A healthier body has magical effects on the body.

6) It is important to note that people who do not have cancer cannot describe how it feels to have cancer. It changes the way a person perceives the world and life. Understand this. I've gone through so much stress because of this and yet it is nothing compared to what my wife went through, and I agree to that.
Left by James K. on Jul 05, 2010 8:29 PM

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Left by COCAH SHOES on Aug 05, 2010 10:08 PM

# re: Suicidal, Cancerous and Radioactive: Three things I love about my wife
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Thanks for this post. I see it is from a few years ago, but somehow I stumbled across it. I'm looking for info on XNA (I teach Game Design and Development at a middle school and am developing a high school level online course) and such and you seem to have great resources, and now I realize a huge heart. I hope things are well for you and your wife and kids. My wife was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and I believe there is some undiagnosed depression there as well. It's not easy to deal with and I appreciate what in your story sounds like a true dedication and understanding of the root cause (rather than taking a victim role as a caregiver). I'd love to connect more with you on this as I appreciate your attitude, insight, etc. Best wishes.
Steve
Left by Steve on Dec 13, 2010 10:19 AM

# re: Suicidal, Cancerous and Radioactive: Three things I love about my wife
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good news thanks for your share. m.720
Left by Office Professional Plus 2007 on Jul 19, 2011 9:27 PM

# re: Suicidal, Cancerous and Radioactive: Three things I love about my wife
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