Filling in the blanks…

It would appear that I’ve missed posting the results of a pertinent appointment or two… the first was a followup with Dr. Williams, my surgeon, on the 19th, and the actual face-to-face with Dr. Naiker on the 20th.

Okay, so let’s deal with Dr. Williams first.

We started off the session by being evaluated by Dr. Williams intern, Gugan… and I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t get her last name. She was great, however. Funny, personable and quite thorough in her questioning and probing.

Dr. Williams was also in pretty good form… We ambushed him off the top with a ‘hello’ from Toddy Parkinson, who knew his father really well. Apparently they practiced their various medical specialties together, first in Liverpool, and then serendipity struck and they both ended up in Alberta.

Dr. Williams seems to be quite pleased with the results of the actual surgery. Everything has healed very well. When asked about the sensation of the tongue as ‘clumsy’ and ‘bulky’, he pointed out that he had added quite a bit of material (from my forearm) to replace what he had taken out of the tongue and lingual tonsil… and he said basically (I can’t remember the exact words, dammit) that if he had skimped on the rebuild, the tissues would have gotten so tight that swallowing would have been nearly impossible, and the flap on top of the oesophagus would not have maintained a watertight seal. Oh. Well, okay then. I then told him about the ledge or trough that forms in the flap that is collecting debris causing me a little bit of discomfort, and embarrassing me by making me do these cute little coughs until it clears… and the early morning ‘here’s-how-we’re-supposed-to-swallow’ challenges. He started his reply with the ‘make-sure-you-carry-a-water-bottle-everywhere’ speech, referencing the dry mouth issues, and followed it up with a promise to contact the speech therapy team at COMPRU to make sure they do another assessment, and teach me a few little tricks to help. In an effort to make me feel more comfortable with the situation, he did mention that there are people who never swallow properly again, and that I am doing really well. He keeps saying that… I hope he’s not just blowing smoke…

I asked him about writing a prescription for the Ensure meal replacement that I’m using to supplement my eating; no problem. That will help on a financial level… the damn things are over two bucks a can! He quizzed me on my eating habits, was quite curious about the protein bars that I found that are celiac friendly, and generally encouraged me to keep eating… No mention was made of trying to ‘tube’ me again.

My hearing issues were brought up. He is referring me to another specialist, a Dr. Lui, for assessment. I’ve already got an appointment for the testing… I just need to know if the hearing is coming back, or if there will be a recommendation for hearing aids. I don’t mind the thought of hearing assist… I just want to know.

There will be a referral to the Cross Cancer Institute’s physio therapy department to get an analysis of my shoulder done. It should have rolled back by now… but he was ‘okay’ with the level of mobility. And that was only ‘okay’. We’re a long way from perfect on this stuff.

The appointment on the 20th with Dr. Naiker was to discuss the results of the CT Scan… and I must congratulate myself that I did NOT give him a rough time about his receptionist. But I tell ya, if she does it again I’ll have a lot to say…

Gail and the girls all came to this appointment. Gail was obvious, but the girls came became they don’t know who to believe anymore. They think that their mother is blowing things out of proportion, and that I’m down playing everything significantly. Well, maybe they’re right on both counts…

Essentially, Dr. Naiker told us that we remain in surveillance mode on the kidney thing. It is not a cyst. It is not purely scar tissue. It is also not affecting function, not growing, not doing anything untoward… so we wait and we watch. I already have the date for the next CT Scan: November 11.

Dr. Naiker really did a good job of calming everyone… and convincing them to relax a bit.

I brought up the issue of the stiff and sore joints, something I forgot to do with Dr. Williams. There are two things at work here. Firstly, the radiation and chemo have added approximately 10 years worth of wear and tear to my body. Secondly, chemo is designed to stop (or slow) cell division. That will include the production of joint lubricants. He will, if necessary, give me injections to help recovery, but suggested that liberal use of the hot tub will accomplish a great deal. Exercise, yoga, tai chi, etc. are also good avenues to pursue.

The issues with my left ankle, he thinks is simply arthritis, which in retrospect I’m beginning to take issue with. As I rode my motorcycle home on Friday evening, it suddenly occurred to me what is causing the discomfort; impact and strain on the left ankle from riding the motorcycle! I ‘land’ on my left foot… and it often takes more than it should with the way I have been braking. So, I think that it is a repetitive strain thing from taking the weight of the bike, all 500+ lbs. of it, and the added oomph of the skid-to-a-stop every once in a while. My ropers (the boots I wear) are surviving better than the ankle… definitely gotta change the way I’m handling that…

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