Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sit Rep

Much has changed in my condition over the past few weeks. I've mentioned a few changes as they have happened but I figured I'd take stock of where I am for you.


The radiation-induced mucous is about 1% of what it was at the peak, production-wise. It seems like most of the mucous I produce now is while sleeping, and it isn't much. It is much thicker though. I haven't had to carry a spittoon for a long time now. I do occasionally need to spit, but maybe a dozen times a day now instead of several times a minute. I stopped gargling with the buffered saline solution a couple of weeks ago and now just use plain water to rinse or gargle. The mucous still tastes a little bad, but I think I've gotten used to it.


This is the most significant improvement in the past week or two. The past few nights I have only woken up once during the night and I always go back to sleep easily now. I'm congested at night but sleeping through it more and more. Wonderful Wife has to sleep with ear plugs because my irregular breathing keeps her awake. After four months of seriously interrupted sleep this improvement is very welcome.


Also much improved. I still have occasional bouts of coughing but I no longer have the uncontrollable fits. The "bottom rung" spot in my throat that used to trigger them and was the bane of my existence is long gone. The best part is I no longer have automatic coughing fits every night just as I'm about to fall asleep.


Not much change here. Most foods taste close to normal for the first bite or two and then the taste diminishes rapidly. My mouth is very dry and does not produce any additional saliva with food. So foods that are not inherently wet are difficult to eat. I have to take very small bites and wash them down with liquid.

My menu has been pretty limited: soups, toast soaked in butter and honey, hot or cold cereal and lots of juices. I also like salad greens with dressing. There is a surprising amount of moisture in greens, and the coldness and crispness is refreshing in my mouth. My dry teeth get wallpapered with fragments of green, though.

I sometimes get depressed about the limited range of what I eat. I'm trying to branch out. Yesterday the nutritionist recommended I try to eat what is for dinner for the rest of the family instead of preparing my own (wet) food. I tried that tonight and ate small servings of salmon, baked beans and pears. It works, but it takes forever with tiny bites and lots of rinsing and swallowing.

Eating is going to be my most significant long-term challenge. I'm slowly accepting the idea that the challenge is going to last perhaps halfway into next year. From what I have read and heard from others, taste is likely to recover pretty well but saliva might never fully recover.


I think I reported last week that my bowels are almost completely normal now. Regular readers will remember that I struggled a lot with bowel function immediately after treatment ended.


I'm not taking any! I haven't taken any medication at all for at least a week now.


My energy level has been pretty good. It seemed higher for a bit one to two weeks ago - I'm more tired this week. Perhaps that's because I'm always pushing my activity level a little beyond my available energy.


For a long time I was the dad who just laid on the sofa. I would interact with The Progeny but Wonderful Wife did the bulk of the actual parenting. Over the past few weeks I've been trying to take up my parenting weight again. For example, pre-cancer Wonderful Wife and I would alternate nights putting The Progeny to bed - supervising tooth brushing and then reading with them. During and after treatment I was too tired, especially by the end of the day.

The Progeny were resistant at first - they had become accustomed to Mom in the evening. But after the first night or two we got back in the swing of it. It's been such a novelty for them that so far we haven't done as much reading as usual; we've been spending time just lying together and calmly talking. That's been nice.


I've been going to work three days a week for the past three weeks, and working many of the other days at home. I still take some time to go walking/hiking when the weather is pleasant because those walks have done wonders for my energy level. This past week that didn't happen due to medical appointments on a couple of days.

I'm not fully effective at work. It's been so long since I've had to think about long term strategic-type things that my brain doesn't want to do it. So far I've been focusing on short-term tasks. Even with those, I find that concentration and problem solving are subpar. But it's getting better with each passing week.

The social aspect of being at work has been unexpectedly beneficial. Having lunch with my coworkers and friends has been very pleasant. Everyone is so happy to see me back - it's heartwarming. People gave me happy congratulations when they learned of my clear scans earlier this week.


Overall I feel like I'm doing quite well. Compared to a month ago and especially two months ago I am hugely improved. In the middle of the crap it felt like I would never get to this point, but here I am.

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