I went to see the doctor today. In my life this last year and a half that isn’t a very unusual thing. In fact as I sit here now I have three pending appointments over the rest of this month. Tomorrow I go to my family doctor to check my blood pressure and to have the two stitches put into my finger taken out. On the17th I go to the Juravinski clinic to have yet another Ct scan. and then on the 25th a follow up appointment with the radiation oncologist and the nurse running the study I volunteered for when this all started.
What is good is that unless they find something unusual in the scan and blood work being done then, I am considered a cured man.
The surgeon today confirmed that the last operation has done what it was supposed to and covered up the wayward end of my jawbone. I found out that he had opened up the suture on the outside of my face, not because there was anything wrong but just because he needed better access to the area than he could get working through the inside of my mouth. There was no sign of any tumor or infection it was just that my mouth wasn’t big enough for all the tools and work he had to do. I can’t remember the last time anyone told me my mouth wasn’t big enough, let alone too big.
Dr Archibald the surgeon who has seen me through all this carving and re-carving since last August, has now determined that as far as he can see at the present time I’m all done. He wants to see me in three months for another follow up appointment but there is currently no need for any more treatments, operations or further medical intervention.
I have also been given approval finally to start trying to eat things like a normal person. You know like through my mouth instead of the feeding tube still in my stomach. I’ve been told to start slowly with soft food like yogurt, soup etc and if I can handle, or more accurately swallow that to continue trying more and different food as I try to learn how to eat and swallow without choking on food going down my windpipe.
I am left now with a weakened jaw where it was separated and then rebuilt. Loss of a couple of more teeth on the right side where radiation damaged tissue had to be cut out taking away any base for the teeth to sit in. More problematic in the long run is that I have lost nerve function in the lower right side of my face and this means that I don’t feel food or liquid sliding down my throat on that side. Because of this the usually automatic reflex to close the windpipe doesn’t happen and that could lead to choking and or pneumonia if I take food into my lungs instead of my stomach.
It is possible that this will mean having to take all feed through the tube for the rest of my life. Taking some food that way to supplement what I can swallow if I can’t eat enough, or in the best possibility, being able to eat normally enough that we can do away with the feeding tube altogether.
So now all I have to do is get over the pain and stiffness left from all the operations, learn to eat again, regain my strength and energy and finally get around to that marathon training that was behind the trip to the doctor in the fall of 2009 in order to deal with that pesky infection in my right tonsil. Sure wish I had gone after that earlier and more aggressively way back when.
Meanwhile as they say at my university “Surgite” Or if you prefer as the rowing club says “ Forge Ahead”.