It has been about five weeks since my treatments ended. I still have lingering side effects, some of which will continue for some time. I have had trouble with my stomach throughout the process. At this point the problem is very strong acid reflux. I’ve been on four different medicines for this, none seem to work. Hopefully, I will soon get an appointment to see a specialist. I also still have sores in my throat left over from the radiation. One has healed up, but two others are still there. I have trouble swallowing. My salivary glands have been cooked so my mouth is constantly dry. I can eat foods, but I must wash down every bite with water. And finally, a lot of things don’t taste right because they also fried my taste buds. From about half way through the treatments I haven’t been able to taste anything sweet. A lot of other things just taste bland.
Having said all of that, I did enjoy Thanksgiving. There was enough food that I could taste – turkey, ham, vegetables, etc., allowing me to enjoy the day. I still can’t eat a lot, but what I ate was good. It was great to have a big family celebration including my parents, four of our kids, their spouses, and two grandkids. I helped the kids make some Thanksgiving crafts (not my specialty!), and Gracie, the older one, created a fun photo booth. We watched the Redskins lose to Dallas – the worst part of the day.
Today I had a doctor remove my feeding tube. It was so good getting rid of that thing. With my picc line gone, and now the peg line gone I will finally feel “normal”. You pick up a lot of ne vocabulary during treatment. A “port line” is inserted in the chest. It has a small reservoir under the skin. It is typically used for long term treatments. I didn’t have one of them. A “picc” line is inserted in the upper arm, and a catheter goes through the vein to a major artery near the heart. It is typically used for short term treatments. Both are used to administer IV’s for treatment. A “peg line” is a flexible feeding tube inserted through the belly directly into the stomach. It is used for feeding when a person can’t take food by mouth. So now I have no external plumbing. YAH! More reason to be thankful.
Now I just have to wait until January to have a PET scan to determine if the cancer is indeed gone from my body. They have to wait until my throat heals up from the radiation before a PET scan can give an accurate read. I have follow up visits with my two main cancer doctors next week. Meanwhile, bring on Christmas!
I haven’t checked in for a while, so I thought I’d give a little update. Last week was a good one, I’m feeling much better. I started the week still not able to each much of anything. By the weekend I was getting more and more real food. I declared yesterday “No Can Sunday”, since it was the first day I didn’t have to put a can of jevity in my feeding tube. I had a protein shake for breakfast, soup for lunch, and ravioli for dinner in a restaurant. The side dish was asparagus. I was so happy. I was eating real green vegetables by themselves! You can’t imagine what a big deal that was for me.
A lot of food still doesn’t taste right. I taste some things well (like the asparagus), and other things just taste bland (like the ravioli). I hope all my ability to taste comes back. They say some things may not come back. The oddest one has been the inability to taste anything sweet. Since a lot of the things they recommend eating early on (shakes, protein drinks, ice cream, etc.) are sweet, none of that stuff tastes good to me. Now that I can eat more savory things, I’m beginning to enjoy it again.
This is a big deal! For over a month I didn’t eat anything by mouth. It’s weird but you kind of forget how to swallow! And when I first started trying to eat, NOTHING tasted good. It really messed with my head. I knew I needed to eat, but I almost dreaded it. I lost about 40 pounds. If you know what a “foodie” I am, that is crazy! Now I am just beginning to actually enjoy it. Hopefully, I can get rid of this tube very soon. I do hope to keep most of that weight off, and get back in better shape. I also lost a lot of the muscles in my arms and legs from lack of exercise.
I only have a week and a half to be ready for Thanksgiving. I hope by then I am ready to overstuff myself the way you are supposed to do on that day.
I finally caught that big speckled trout I’ve been dreaming about! O.K., not for real. But it was a nice surprise all the same. Peggy and I were out shopping at Target yesterday when I got tired. I went and sat in the car while she finished up. I was feeling a bit frustrated and sorry for myself for not having any energy. Just as Peggy walked up to the car she saw some friends of ours. I look up and there are two of the nicest people I know – Susie and Rick Thornton. After asking how I was doing, Susie said “We have a birthday present for you in our car”. Rick went to the car and came back with this fish. And, on the back of it several of our dear Crossroads Community Church friends had written notes. What an awesome and thoughtful gift!
Susie had got the idea from a Facebook comment exchange from one of my blog posts. She had commented that the fish are going to miss me while I am in treatments. I responded that fish fear me. The gift made my day.
This whole thing reminded me once again of the presence of Godly people in my life. So many people of faith have surrounded me with prayers, words of encouragement, and acts of kindness through this time. We often look for the presence of God in our lives. I must admit that sometimes I feel God’s presence, sometimes I don’t. However, we should never neglect to recognize His present with us through the lives of His people. In the same way, we should always remember that there are times when we bring God’s presence into the lives of people through acts of kindness.