Saturday, March 29, 2008

Timing Is Everything

We were extremely fortunate that the media blitz occurred when it did. I was at peak energy, and I could speak.

That last point is the important one. Today, a common chemo side effect that had been starting to creep up on me really took hold: mouth sores.

Chemotherapy often strips mucous lining from your body—so often, everyone was surprised when it didn't happen to me at all the first time I went through chemo. One of the effects of that is that you lose most of the mucous protection in your mouth, so you develop mouth sores and ulcers, which can make it hard to eat, speak or swallow. I had micro-sores and a few ulcers last time for about six days, which meant a diet of pureed food (as well as popsicles, Jell-O, yogurt and applesauce) and regular use of two different kinds of lidocaine mouthwash. Affectionately termed magic mouthwash and pink lady, the first one was a swirl & swallow that would make it easier to eat and swallow painlessly; the second is stronger, not meant to be swallowed, and numbing. It's so numbing that it's dangerous to eat while it's effective, because your body can't read the cues it needs to direct the flow of substances from your mouth.

The sores are better and worse this time. Better because we saw them coming and so switched to pureed food earlier (minimizing irritation) and also because it's not so bad that I need pink lady. That stuff is nasty. The sores are worse this time because they go farther down my throat, which makes swallowing a little bit of an effort. Nothing huge—I just have to get accustomed to an extra step in the eating process. It's like there's a little air bubble in my esophagus I have to get past. Under my tongue is also affected, which makes it hard to move food around. Like last time, the sores are mostly on one side of my mouth, so some chewing has been possible of really soft foods—but now it hurts to get the food where it needs to go. I'd also like to take this opportunity to mention that tastewise, pureed food hasn't been so bad. In fact, I prefer the hospital's salmon & pasta dish better this way. And the vegetables are never overcooked.

Right now, the sores make it hard to speak, so I won't be answering the phone much. So to bring this back to the beginning, it's a good thing I had to do all that talking two days ago and not yesterday or today.

Got my 26th transfusion today—platelets this time, though the need was only borderline. Because I have an allergic reaction to the platelet transfusions, they have to give me Benadryl first. So I was asleep and/or loopy for a while. I also sometimes suffer from night sweats (due to the diabetes insipidus), which I find is really horrible to wake up to in the middle of the night. When they start happening, I start to fret about sleep, to the point where I need an anti-anxiety med before bed so I don't clench my teeth while I sleep. All of which to say I was doped up before and am doping up now, so if this is a little rambly, well, now you know. Maybe if I stopped listening to Fantastic Plastic Machine while I was typing it would help as well.

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