Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Slowly healing

Well, we realized this week that it had been exactly two years since since my diagnosis of cancer.  The exact date was September 21st, 2011.  Wow, that has been a long two years!

I am recovering slowly from the last radiation treatment that was rendered.  The base of my tongue received a substantial dose of radiation.  Unfortunately, the tissues heal slowly when exposed to these kinds of things.  I have been surprised at how tender that wound has been.  It makes life interesting.  For example, I can't really move my tongue side to side when eating.  It is such a small thing that you would never even think of it but it is important.  Without the ability to move the tongue from side to side you can no longer control the movement of your food.  This makes it very difficult to guide the food to your teeth for chewing.  I find that if I carefully place a piece of food in my left cheek space then I can guide it to my teeth with my cheek, chew and then swallow.  If I just put it in the middle, like normal, then my only choice is to swallow it whole.  Kind of annoying.

The pain in my mouth is pretty substantial.  I don't have a lot of choices.  I'm not willing to take narcotics so instead I pretty much live on 20% lidocaine solution that I have custom made at the pharmacy.  20% lidocaine is 10 times stronger than the stuff that we inject for dental procedures.  It also has 4% tetracaine, another anesthetic.  If I rinse with that stuff I stay numb and fairly pain free for 2 hours.  I hate to admit how much of it I am using.  Suffice it to say, I get up every two hours through the night to numb my mouth with this stuff, and I use it pretty regularly through the day as well.

I talked to Dr Foote at Mayo about the slow healing of my wound.  He said this was normal and gave me several suggestions including hyperbaric therapy.  Dr. Foote, by the way, is amazing.  He emails me on a regular basis just to check up on me and always answers promptly whenever I ask him a question.  He is probably the most attentive Dr. I have ever met.

Anyway, we went to meet the hyperbaric team this week.  It is basically a big pressurized tank.  They put you in it and raise the pressure to about the level of a 45 foot deep dive.  You have a plastic bubble over your head which gives you pure oxygen to breath while under pressure.  Apparently it hyper-saturates your blood with oxygen to the point that even wound areas that lack capillaries will begin to get oxygen.  By doing that it will let the wound heal and regrow a blood supply.  We are talking to the insurance now but hopefully I will start this treatment in the next few days.  It will require two hours a day for the treatment.  It it helps it would be well worth it.

Other than the annoyance of my mouth pain, life is great.  I am still able to work full time, I love being with my wife and children.  I love playing with my grand daughter.  Summer is slipping away into fall and the world is painting itself the most beautiful colors before it goes to sleep for winter.  I love being alive!

Provo temple at sunset.
I have been so grateful for the temple in my life.  The other night, JoLynne and I went to the temple.  I was changing my clothes in the locker room when I was simply overcome with feelings.  It's hard to describe.  I guess the best I can do would be to compare it to going to a home that is full of happy memories for you.  For me that would be my grandma's house.  Not just memories but all the love that is associated with those memories.  That is how I felt as I stood there in the temple.  Overwhelmed with feelings of love and memories that I couldn't quite piece together but so real.  When it says, "The house of the Lord" on the front of a temple, I believe it.  I have felt His presence there.  It is a feeling full of love, warmth and kindness.