Cancer Free and Now I Can SEE!!
Well I've finished my two weeks in Houston for my base line study and cataract surgery. All my scans show no sign of cancer! It appears I’m no longer dying …well not of cancer anyway!
The eye surgery went well and I can’t believe how well I can see! I can see the hair on an ant’s ass a mile away! Or is that the hair on an aunt’s ass a mile wide??? Anyway…I can see things I must have been missing for years. I’m like a child with a new toy. Only this one is hard to break and even harder to misplace!
When I went in for my barium swallow test with my speech therapist, Deince Perez, (I just love her and yes that's how she spells her name) I had to change into a gown in the bathroom. I have been in this bathroom many times and never really paid attention to my surroundings. On the wall I spot a coin operated machine made of stainless steal that accepted quarters. I’ve seen it before, but this time I noticed two symbols on the machine and slot for coins next to each symbol. One appeared to be for a tampon, but the other I was unfamiliar with. Not to say that I am very familiar with tampons mind you!
I was thinking it might be condoms, but that would be silly to have a condom machine in the hospital, right? Well, I had to ask Denice what it was. This new eyesight has me looking at the world through a child’s eyes. I called Denice to the door and pointed at the box on the wall. “What’s that for?” Poor girl turned 6 shades of red, maybe even a little purple. She said, “Nobody’s ever asked me a question like that before! It’s for tampons.”
I had to laugh at her embarrassment, “I got the tampon one, what about the other one?” As her red turned neon she replies, “I’m going to say… maxi pads.” OK, so as a guy I have no idea, but now that I can see clearly again, I just had to ask!
The barium swallow test was set up because every morning I wake up I’m unable to swallow properly. The liquid does not want to go down, instead I become a sprinkler as it proceeds to squirt out my nose! After some use by midday I can swallow with some normality again. Dr. Clayman recommended for me to stick my fingers down my throat and stretch it out. Well I will say it helps but it sure ain’t pleasant!
The swallow test showed something a bit odd. Par for the course…when have I EVER been normal? I’m only swallowing down the left side of my throat. The odd thing about this is…it’s where they sutured the tongue flap and that side is the side that has more of a tendency to atrophy. My good side, the side untouched by surgery, was not allowing the liquid to go down. No explanation was given.
Denice wants to try to wean me off the feeding tube by beginning a diet that will be processed in a blender. So I’ve been given a cook book on how to make my meals. No fuckin way am I making pizza in a blender…and yes there is a recipe for that! I have been making shakes for some time and adding protein powder to aid in the healing process, but something about Lasagna from a blender just isn’t normal! As everything else with this experience, I’ll take it one day at a time!
I’m never really hungry. I have some taste, but since I can’t chew there’s not much enjoyment. When I do attempt to chew, a small portion of the tongue flap pops it’s way between my molars. Think of a balloon half full of air and when you apply pressure to the middle, it bulges on the side. This bulge then gets caught between my teeth and causes great pain.
Pain?? Yes…during the operation the plastic surgeon attached a rogue nerve to the flap. I can’t seem to feel hot or cold, but I sure as hell know I’ve bitten it! I might need to have a second operation to make “adjustments” to the flap. It was explained that this could interfere with my speech, but if it allows me to eat regularly I’m all for it.
While I was in Houston, a life long friend, Pom (Pomeroy) made a quick visit to see me… and I do mean quick. He traveled from Dallas to Houston in 17 minutes. Yes that’s right 17 minutes! How you ask? A US Air Force F-18 Fighter Jet. Yes, he is my very own Pom Pilot. He arrived in his flight suit, we drove over to Starbucks for some coffee then back to Dallas he flew. He is always there when I need him, one of my true friends.
I seem to run into so many people who have been touched by cancer. On my way home I sat next to a young man. We began to converse. Then the question he asks, “What brought you to Houston?” I explain, “Cancer.”
He tells me his story. He is a cancer survivor. His cancer was of the stomach. Our war stories are similar. He shares with me that both his parents died of cancer and he wasn’t suppose to survive. He’s been cancer free for 10 years. A happy ending!
I hail a cab to take me home from the airport, a 30 minute ride. During the ride I make small talk with the cabbie. As we pull into the driveway he asks, where I had gone. I tell him I was in Houston being treated for cancer. Forty Five minutes pass as we sit in the drive discussing cancer. He is a cancer survivor. He had cancer of the esophagus and went through similar head and neck therapy as I had. He has been cancer free for over 15 years. A happy ending!
I hope it's time for my happy ending...until next time!
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