Thursday, July 30, 2015

Divorcing Miss Peggy

7 Weeks out of treatment!

Things are starting to turn around the corner and come back towards a new normal.

Rich feels like doing more things, like mowing the pasture weeds down, doing light yard work but the recent heat wave along with a lot of humidity has dampened his spirit.
He feels like he has the whole summer to catch up on.

Indeed in many ways he has weeks of 'life' that he sort of missed while being in treatment.  Chemo was no cakewalk as was the radiation.

July 27th was the day scheduled for the removal of the PEG tube.  In the beginning, we'd decided to call this tube 'Miss Peggy'.  Rich had said that if he had to sleep with the damn thing it was getting a name.

And he gave it a woman's name, he said, because 'she' was such a pain to look after and was always getting in the way.

I had to go to work and Rich had said he felt strong enough to drive to Madison and back on his own.

The PEG tube was in place in case Rich lost the ability to swallow, which often comes with Throat Cancer treatment.  The throat gets so intensely sore and painful it becomes impossible for some patients to swallow even pureed food. But he was a determined soul and we never had to use the feeding tube.

The withdrawal of the tube was painless he told me.  He met with his psychiatrist afterwards.  Dr. Cordes is an interesting person.  He is blind and in some ways I think that makes him more perceptive to Rich, he doesn't see the body movements that Rich uses while he communicates but Dr. Cordes can hear the inflections in his voice.

Dr. Cordes greeted Rich and Rich happily announced to Cordes that he'd finally gotten his divorce.  Dr. Cordes was temporarily thrown off as his mind wandered probably to all the meetings that Rich and I had gone to together.

"A divorce?" he asked.
"Yes Doc, from Miss Peggy, my feeding tube."

Rich explained that he and Cordes discussed his recovery and told the Doc that he still felt he wasn't doing 'good enough' even though everyone was telling him that he was.  Dr. Cordes suggested that Rich do what everyone else around him was him a pat on the back.  Rich should stop and give himself a pat on the back.

In my observation, I told Rich that he was actually more active now than he had been in a year.  He worked outdoors for longer periods of time and got more 'stuff' done.

I wonder if the cancer that had been growing there for who knows how long had been a part of his continous exhaustion last year.  We'd addressed it as a possible depression issue, but what if it had been 'THE' Cancer?

I guess we'll never know at this point.  And really we both don't care.  Rich's attitude is so fantastic, even though he still has daily pain in swallowing, that we have no doubt in our heads that he is cured and better.

Of course the PET scan in September will address that issue for us.

Miss Peggy has exited our life.  No more flushing 'her' and for Rich, she no longer gets in his way.

It is a good thing.

Friday, July 17, 2015

One Month Follow Up!

Today we have the one month follow up with the Radiologist Oncologist, Dr. Witek.

We skipped the two week follow up as Rich was doing well.
Swallowing is still painful to him and he still takes a pain med in the morning to help with that.

I think we can say goodbye to that soon enough.
Eating bread is still difficult as the saliva glands are not producing like they once did.
We don't know if that will all come back or not.

Last night we ate steak, sliced and fried potatoes, and salads.  A very normal meal.  This was something I never thought would happen again [in the third week of treatment].  I think Rich is healing well and actually getting back into the swing of things much faster than anyone imagined.

He has always been determined that 'this' was something he would conquer and I think that attitude helped him greatly.

What happens next?  I guess we wait for the PET scan to see if 'all' of the cancer was eradicated and move on from there.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

16 days after

Today we are 16 days out of treatment.

Rich is doing better, he still tries to do 'too much' and push the limit, but that is in his nature right now.
He feels that he has fallen behind and lost time to the treatment.

He saw Dr. D, the dentist today and had his teeth and mouth cleaned.  Dr. D said things looked very good in 'there'.
And Dr. D will be making some temporary teeth to fill in the ones that were taken before radiation/chemo treatments. The permanent ones will take longer to make than 30 days.

Rich is pretty excited to 'get' some teeth back!
Watch out world, he will be chasing after steak again!

His throat is still very painful but compared to some cases, I guess he is doing quite well and healing quite fast.
It seems like a miracle ... we don't have an appointment now for nearly a week and a half!

I feel like I could drive to the VA hospital with my eyes closed.  
Total mileage for driving back and forth for treatments and for other appointments since April 28th?

6, 250 miles.

I return to work at midnight tonight.
So things are returning to normal, something I wasn't sure would happen at the end of April.

So far, so good.