Collateral damage.

Just returned from a check up, the doc stuck metal spatulas in my mouth then a micro camera down my nose to look at my throat. Both were fairly unpleasant making me want to gag. The doc said my epiglottis was a mess with a large sore on it, explains much of my current discomfort. I also noticed underneath my chin was very wobbly, they had said that there would be some swelling as lymph and other stuff collects: lymphoedema, so now I’ve a fat, wobbly chin. Overall though nothing untoward, notwithstanding my mental breakdown. Doc booked me in for another check up in 6 weeks time at which point they will book me in for an MRI scan and other tests for 4 weeks later. Which means that we won’t be getting any sort of definitive results until mid-April at the earliest, the timescale is lengthening.

Forgot to ask about yesterday’s scan until Kate reminded me, well memory loss is one of the multitude of side effects. Popped back to see the doc and he said there was nothing to worry about, just 2 miniscule nodules. But surely that’s how lots of stuff starts with just very small things?

There is a course called the ‘New View Programme’ for patients after treatment for head and neck cancer. Have just contacted them to book in for the next course as I am feeling quite emotional; I am quite shocked at how fatigued I am and the continuing pain and side effects of treatment are beginning to get me down. The extreme side effects, or rather full frontal assault effects, over christmas and new year abated significantly and quite suddenly. This surprised me and caused me to be somewhat euphoric for a few weeks. But over the last week, as I realise that further improvements will be very gradual and long term, my mood has shifted and it’s something I have to sort.

Chemo and radio therapy are vicious treatments, I’ve experienced their acute effects and am now coming to terms with their medium and longer term effects. I’m getting more pins and needles and seem to suffer from the cold more than  I did before. This is probably peripheral neuropathy which is basically nerve damage caused by the chemo. My upper jaw and ears ache more lately, this jaw stiffness is called trismus and typically develops a few weeks or months after treatment has finished, it has to carefully monitored. I may experience hearing loss.

Extreme tiredness or fatigue, is one of the commonest side effects and it’s certainly got me. It’s also linked to pain, having almost constant pain as I have in my mouth and throat ‘takes it out of you’.

And I haven’t even begun on the emotional and psychological effects of treatment and the knowledge of having cancer.

Well, after writing only brief pieces about myself in recent weeks I’ve made up somewhat in this blog. I have had some heavy duty treatment so it’s to be expected that I have some heavy duty collateral damage. It’s hard: physically, emotionally, and mentally but I have the most wonderful wife and despite her bearing the brunt of some of my anger and despair Kate has sustained me and I owe her so much that any words I write now will be so inadequate.

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.


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