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Archive for October 25th, 2009

I know some of you start to worry when I haven’t posted something for a while. I’m reluctant to say that, this past week, you would be right to be concerned. It hardly seems possible, but in some ways things have gone from bad to worse. (I’m wondering if the Captain of that QE2 I wrote about earlier was maybe a little impaired and turned the ship the wrong direction?)

The short version is: the very instant my abdominal pain began to ease, so that I could actually begin to think about eating “normally” again, I developed a severe sore throat (probably a virus related to the afternoon fevers I’ve been having) and it has made swallowing absolute torture. The worst of it has been going on for about four days, and – believe me – I have tried EVERYTHING:  salt water gargle, baking soda gargle, hot water with honey and lemon, various hot teas, cold water (with and without lemon), tepid water, slippery elm lozenges, zinc lozenges, scraping my tongue (!), popsicles, ice cream, broth, tylenol, illegal drugs, you name it…I can swallow nothing without it being traumatic.

Magic Mouthwash (a/k/a "novacaine")

Magic Mouthwash (a/k/a "novocaine")

They finally prescribed a special mouthwash for me (actually called “Magic Mouthwash”) that has an effect similar to novocaine. The idea is to numb the throat briefly so I can eat. However, when I use it, my lips, mouth, tongue and gums become completely numb, as if I’d just been to the dentist, but unfortunately I can’t get enough of the “magic stuff” to the far back of my throat where I swallow (I’ve tried and tried).  Not to mention, the rest of my mouth is then so numb that putting a spoon or fork in there becomes a bit like feeding a baby. Most of it ends up on my chin.

Soooo, since Thursday I’ve eaten next to nothing: I can get a spoonful or two or yogurt down with great difficulty. I’ve tried a few spoonfuls of oatmeal (very unpleasant). I managed about a 1/4 cup of chicken noodle soup (broth mostly). Even the Ensure I was living on previously won’t go down without a lot of discomfort. Needless to say, I’ve lost some more weight. The last time I checked it was about 107.

I’m very aware that the whole point of this window of time before surgery is to regain strength and weight, and to be as healthy going into the surgery as possible. Yet the clock is running down rapidly and I continue to waste away. I can’t help but wonder what the big overall plan might be here. I must admit, I feel a bit forsaken – or maybe that’s just starvation talking. Throughout this whole ordeal with cancer, I’ve understandably had a few low points and have let despair creep in from time to time. This past week or so, I think I’ve sunk to a new level of desperation. I’ve had many a tearful conversation with the powers out there that are far greater than me, trying in vain to comprehend how, after surviving the chemo and radiation treatment with great difficulty, I should now be visited with the inability to swallow food. Surely this is a bad joke that will end soon.

Meanwhile, Dr. Fekrazad has gently suggested I start taking an anti-depressant. He argues that I will be more likely to have my physical health improve if my mental health gets a boost. He also thinks it would help me deal with the emotional effects of the surgery a bit better. Although I’ve been opposed to this idea in the past (for myself – this is not my opinion for others), I went ahead and filled the prescription and now have a little bottle of Lexapro on hand. But I haven’t been able to take any yet because I can’t swallow them.

A better mood in a bottle?

A better mood in a bottle?

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