What a difference a year makes
What a difference a year makes! Maybe not a day, but a year does change things for the better.
May 28th 2020 was my final radiation session, so one year 2 days ago. Last night, because my six monthly examinations are due this coming week, I posted on Facebook for the first time in a long time. I also read some of my old blogs and a year has certainly eased some of the awful memories I had of my treatment.
Starting at Autumn last year, I started picking up some website work and that helped me get back into the swing of things. I took on a project at a rock-bottom price to help a start-up and also help me to start designing again.
Last year took a toll on me and I was suffering with depression, anxiety and panic attacks - none of which I recommend to anyone! I saw my doc and went onto Prozac for a while to help calm myself and I stayed on the drug for a while until I felt better able to cope with things.
What I had been through was bad enough, but poor Linda who suffered an horrific burn to her right leg and foot in an accident at work, was also in a bad way and unable to work for something like two months. Her burns were awful.
What a pair we made...
Come Christmas I gave up trying to eat real food. Eating was almost impossible due to the lack of saliva. My taste buds were still shot to pieces and it became a real chore to chew away on 'food', which eventually turned to be like cardboard and unable to swallow it.
With a little experimentation, Linda came up with a great smoothie which I still drink to this day.
The base is cornflakes which are soaked in milk. Then strawberry/banana Greek yogurt is added along with whey protein, apple, melon, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, spinach (got to have my greens!) and maybe a few more things I've forgotten. All this is then blended and the end result is a healthy, filling smoothie of which I drink one at breakfast time and two at dinner time. For lunch I have a couple of Ensure high protein shakes and a yogurt. In the evening I eat another yogurt and ice cream.
It works for me and my blood labs have been fantastic and my weight steady at around 156-157 lbs (71Kgs), or 11 stone in old money!
I had a PET scan towards the end of the year and got the all clear after that.
Now, six months later it is that time again and I have to go see my radiologist on Tuesday, where no doubt he will order another PET scan, and the following Tuesday I go and see my ENT doc for a visual examination of my throat.
I don't think my cancer has returned but it is always a rather worrying time until the results come in.
Throat-wise, things have got a lot better but there is still a long way to go. As I mentioned I don't produce enough saliva to be able to eat. My taste buds work minimally, unless there is anything spicy when they go berserk, and I have constant nasal drip which is both annoying and concerning.
The lack of saliva leads to another problem, which is tooth decay and this year I need dental work which is going to end up being very costly.
Talking of costs.....for those who read this in the UK, please bless the NHS! OK, I got lucky last year and through a friend, found a wonderful lady who was able to get me on an insurance plan. My only outlay was $1600 towards the cost of my treatment. My medical bills amounted to $427,000 - yes, over four hundred thousand dollars which is frightening. Had I not got the insurance, I don't know what the outcome would have been.
I am beginning to doubt whether I will ever fully recover from the radiation treatment. I am beginning to doubt whether I will ever eat real food again. I help out on a Facebook group which is all about Head and Neck cancer and I posted on there about the issues I was still having and someone replied to say that he was 9 years out of treatment and still couldn't eat.
It sometimes feels like we need a support group not just for cancer survivors but for radiation survivors - the treatment is that bad!
I'll post again once I get my test/exam results back - so in the next couple of weeks.
Thanks for reading and thanks for all the support and encouragement on the Facebook page 🙂
As an aside, Linda and myself have been blessed with 2 new grandchildren this year - Alfie and Max, who live in the UK. We are hoping to get over there, maybe at the end of this year to see them, Covid and finances allowing.