Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Do you ever have those "Woe is me" days?  I have to confess, I do.  The other day we were at a family event with JoLynne's family.  It was a dinner at her sister's house and then we were going to look at some family pictures.  Since my cancer and all the associated surgeries and radiation my ability to eat is not so good.  To start with I am completely numb on the right side of my face from my lower eyelid to my neck.  So, I can't really feel even if my lips are touching.  The end effect is that I put food in my mouth and it doesn't always stay there too well.  Often it drips down my face and I am totally unaware due to the numbness.  Drinking is especially hard since I can't feel my lips touching the glass.

Also, I have a lot of scarring so I can only open my mouth just a very little bit.  I can barely fit my smallest finger in my mouth.  That is my maximum opening.  So eating is a very slow process.  I have to cut up the food into super small bites so that it will fit.  My tongue doesn't work too good to guide the food around so I have to use my fork to guide the food to where my teeth come together.

Well all of this doesn't make eating very fun, especially in public settings.  I feel like a spectacle when I eat.  I don't know if you have noticed but so much of our social interactions revolve around eating.  This makes my life challenging at times.

Flora Zella McCarther and JoLynne's mother
So, back to our family dinner.  I was struggling through the meal, as I always do.  I was feeling sorry for myself, wishing I could be more normal and feeling self conscious.  Well I finally finished the meal and we went downstairs to look at family pictures.  I wasn't feeling very happy.  The first picture up was my wife's grandmother.  She was afflicted with terrible rheumatoid arthritis.  In the picture she was shriveled up with that terrible disease sitting in a homemade wheelchair.  Really just a kitchen chair with small wheels screwed to the legs.  My sister in law proceeded to talk about how she lived like that for 14 years,  unable to walk or even feed herself.  They would lift her into the chair in the morning, feed her and set her on the porch to wait until people came in from the fields at lunch time.  They would feed her again and leave her on the porch again while they went back out to the fields.  And that is how it was for her day after day for 14 years until she finally passed away.

The next slide was of an uncle.  He was stricken with stomach cancer that moved into his bones.  He was a veteran so they took him up the VA to be cared for.  He couldn't move without his bones breaking so he lay in bed for three years unable to move.  Every few hours they would restrain him with a second mattress and flip it over to try and prevent so many bed sores.  JoLynne's dad, who was watching the slides with us talked about going up to visit this uncle and what a positive attitude he had despite
his disease.  In his words, "You could never visit with him without going away feeling uplifted"

By that point I began to see how foolish I had been.  Here I am complaining because I eat slow and drip a little and yet I can walk and run and feed myself and work at my profession.  Sometimes I just need a little reality check.  That night was a pretty good reality check for me.


  1. We all have those moments Eric. You deserve a pout now and then. I'm sure they had bad days as well. Just not recorded on a blog.