Posted by: dave1949 | 2011/02/25

My Year in Review

I will not be posting here for a few days. I don’t know why I even mention that because I seldom post on a daily basis anyway. The difference this time is that I have an excuse for my laziness. Just one more sleep in this apartment and then I, and Deb are off to the new to us house. We move Saturday. Cogeco says they will have a tech out on Sunday to set up our TV and internet services but you can never be certain of that sort of thing till it actually happens. I might therefore be without internet for a day or two.

The house we are moving into is about 60 years old and is in fact within about 200 yards of the school where we first met. Oakridge at that time was a senior public school with grades 6, 7, and 8. I lived and went to school about a mile away and to the east and south of Oakridge. Deb went to school about a mile away east and north of the new school. We could have probably saved ourselves a lot of trouble and strife if we had just started dating then when we met at out our new school but through the last years there, during high school, and on into and through University me never did date. To be perfectly honest Deb was one of the cool kids in the schools. A great athlete and a stunningly good looking girl. I was much more of a Cee minus, Dee plus character at that time and she had lots of others to go out with before she got down to my strata.

Any way we did finally start seeing each other almost exactly 10 years ago. During the intervening years we have lived together as roommates with no romantic attachments, and we have been lovers, and we have lived apart again. Now we are finally getting together and making this union permanent, or as permanent as anything can be in this world. I cannot begin to explain how lucky I feel that she has agreed to be my partner and spend the rest of our lives together. I know one thing it’s not going to be the same old, usual boy meets girl, falls in love after 50 years and lives happily ever after story. We have much too much to do to live through that old cliche.

As for me In just a week I get to celebrate the one year anniversary of the ending of my cancer therapy. March 4th 2010 was the last day of my radiation treatment. The rest of the year and the beginning of this year have been a physical and emotional roller coaster. From March through april and most of May I felt fine and thought I was on the way to recovery. I was feeling better and better and getting more energy back and things were looking up. THe first evaluations showed no detectable cancer present and I thought I had managed to dodge this particular bullet. Then for no good reason that I could figure out things started going down hill. Later the doctors determined that the cause of my struggle was that tissue damaged by the radiation treatments refused to lie down, die and slough off and out of me like any reasonable flesh would. Instead it died, and stuck around causing trouble.

First I noticed that my mouth was getting painful again and then noticed that I was unable to open my jaw properly. At one point I could only move my jaw down about 2 cm and although at that time I could eat anything I could get between my teeth that meant I was restricted to soft food which I could essentially suck into my mouth and then swallow without having to chew it. It turns out that your body isn’t particularly well equipped to handle your own dead tissue as a medical problem. If the offending stuff is from a foreign body ie bacteria or viruses your body starts up a pretty effective war plan to deal with and eliminate the intruders. When it is part of yourself your body doesn’t know quite what to do. It is usually a no no to killl and dispose of your own flesh but that is what was required at the time. Because of this I developed a rather large ulcer on the back of my tongue and the poisoning caused by the dead cells made me feel ill and in pain again. Doctor Archibald did biopsy in August where it was determined that the problem was not cancerous as we had expected and essentially scooped out the offending material.during the operation. So I started what should have been a second recovery period to get over the after effects of the surgery.

During this time, from mid August to November 23 I felt much better. I was again getting more energy and getting out more but I still couldn’t open my mouth so it was determined that I needed surgery to correct that. That operation was the really long one. After I started on what was a third recovery and still, didn’t feel sick. My jaw had been freed up, and although not back to normal I can again open my mouth wide enough to get food in and try to eat like a normal person. The main problem now was that nerve damage caused by the operation made and makes it difficult to swallow without food going down the wrong way. I have no feeling on the right side so what is practically an involuntary reflex for most people, the closing off of the trachea so food goes down your esophagus doesn’t occur. No sensation of food getting to the juncture so no swallow reflex to direct it down the correct path. Still it was getting better, or at least we thought so till I had that little bleeding spell On January 2nd. Part of the surgical repair had come loose and a pocket of infection had set up in the back of my throat. THe pain this would cause most people was also masked by the nerve damage so I had no idea there was a problem.

Jan 2nd in two episodes separated by a couple of hours I sprung a leak in my carotid artery and bled out an estimated 2 litres of blood. You shouldn’t do that if you want a long and healthy life. The good doctors, Archibald, again for the 3rd time and a young protegee of his Dr Gupta, worked for about 5 hours to repair the area and start me off again towards recovery.

Then this week while coughing up some phlegm I noticed something black in the blob of crud I spit into the sink. Further examination revealed it to be a stitch from some of the suturing they had done in the last operation. I wondered if after 7 weeks this meant that some of the repair work was coming apart again and whether it meant more surgery. I went to see Dr Archibald again and using a scope shoved up my nose and down my throat he determined that in fact everything is healing as it should this time and everything is secure and in proper place. My little panic attack about my mouth falling apart again was needless, as I am still on the road to recovery.

So now we are all caught up. I have to move on the weekend and all my friends and family are doing their best to be sure I don’t over exert myself doing so. Then next weekend Deb and I are getting married. The same friends and family are promising to supervise the honeymoon to make sure I don’t over strain myself then either.
Then all I have to do is get my energy back. Learn to eat and drink normally again, and as spring turns to summer get out on my bikes, or hiking or walking or running and get in shape to run the Toronto Marathon in Oct.

Trying to get in shape to run the marathon in October 2010 was the spark that led me to go see my doctor about a little bothersome infection on my right tonsil that didn’t seem to want to go away. If not for that I would have left it alone for much longer and this tale would probably have a worse outcome. As it is I should be getting married March 5th one year and one day since the treatments for my cancer ended, and the surgical interventions began. It will be ok with me if we don’t have to do any more of this sort of thing for a very long time.



  1. Interesting story, the two of you share.

  2. It’s good to see things are working out for you finally! Congratulations on your upcoming marriage and even more congratulations on your first year anniversary of therapy! May 2011 be better for both of you!


    My very, very best to both of you, how awesome is this? !!!

    Wishing you both a wonderful life together and many, many exciting journeys and fun times…

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