Friday, October 25, 2013

A New Plateau

I seem to have reached a new plateau of recovery this week. I went to work three days this week and worked at home part time on the other days. Here it is Friday night and I'm still feeling pretty good. If you remember, last week after a slightly lesser amount of activity I was completely exhausted. So this is progress!

On Wednesday we went to Dana-Farber for my first post-treatment scans. These scans determine whether treatment was successful, and will continue for several years to watch for any recurrence. I had a PET/CT scan that covers my entire neck and torso and a CT scan of the neck only.

This post from July describes a PET/CT scan.

My next doctor appointments are on November 5. I'm not sure if I'll hear scan results before then.

I had to fast most of the day in preparation for the scans, including not drinking fluids. These days I'm all about getting my target calories so it was weird to fast. It also made me dehydrated, so the IV for the PET and CT contrasts was painful.

I was just rereading posts from May and June. I said at one point that I didn't mind needles. Now that I've been stuck dozens of times and experienced nurses trying to get IVs into collapsed veins? I mind needles a lot more.

The rest of this week I have managed food pretty well. I've hit or come close to my 2000 calorie goal every day except the fasting day. I've been trying a lot of different foods to see what works.

One day at work some coworkers and I went to a Lebanese place that has a "meza" bar with a wide assortment of hot and cold items. It as a great opportunity to try a bunch of different things. Some things I liked: tuna salad, "green gazpacho" (made with cucumbers instead of tomatoes), and especially spinach fritters which were just greasy enough to lubricate the chewing of them. I also had a bowl of clam chowder. Green salad also works pretty well, although I spend a lot of time after eating it scraping bits of lettuce off my teeth.

Soup is my main staple right now. Creamy tomato soups in particular taste good and go down easily. And they have a lot of calories.

This was the third work week in which I went to the office. The social aspect is mostly over now - people are used to me being around again (and people sweetly tell me every day how much they like having me back!) - so I was actually trying to do some work this week. I've noticed some mental side effects that I hadn't noticed before.

Some parts of my brain are rusty. For example, the problem solving part. My dear coworker Mike helped me solve several problems. After each one I would say to myself, "Doh!" The solution was something I used to know, or would have previously been able to figure out. When I try to solve a problem right now it just feels like those circuits are turned off.

I'm also noticing some eyesight changes. I wear progressive lenses and I also have a pair of single-focus computer glasses that I leave at work. They worked great before cancer. Now they are not the right prescription and I can't use them. I wonder if that's temporary. I'm almost due for my annual eye exam so I'll have that discussion with my eye doctor.

Tonight we went out for Mexican food. I had a fantasy that a cheese enchilada with sauce might taste good and be wet enough. I thought refried beans might work, too. But the result was the same as with almost any food I eat: it tastes normal and good for the first bite. Then taste disappears over the course of the next few bites. Then the food is tasteless for a few more bites and finally becomes unpleasant. But I think I managed to eat a third of an enchilada and maybe a third of my beans. I had a couple of bites of rice, but rice is like bread: it's very thirsty and soaks up what little saliva I have.

That being said, I am getting used to it. My mother's advice was right - just keep eating and the new experience of it becomes normal.

Little Sister told me the story of a chef who had the same cancer and treatment. He said his sense of taste took a year to come back and returned one type of taste at a time. Mine is already like that somewhat: I can taste sour and salty but not sweet. Tonight I had a virgin margarita and I could mostly just taste sour. I tried a sip with some salt from the rim and the salt taste was very strong. I also tasted Sprite that one of the Progeny ordered. It tasted like club soda - no sweetness (or flavor) whatsoever. Just unflavored carbonation.

I remarked to Wonderful Wife this morning, "When I'm not trying to eat or sleep, I feel kinda normal!"

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