Monday, April 30, 2012

Give & Take

As with most things throughout this ongoing process, the good parts always seem to come at a price.  Sure, most of them aren't particularly high prices to be paid, but nevertheless there are always adjustments going on.

Today is 2 years since my initial diagnosis and I'm writing this almost to the hour I was told.  Some would say that wasn't a particularly nice birthday present (I'm one of them to be perfectly honest), but looking at the bigger picture, I'm still here and healthy and a better person in so many ways because of it.

I've talked about many of the "new normal" adjustments over the last year or so and I think I'd have to say that, at last, even the minor tweaks are becoming few and far between.  Has my body reached what it deems to be the end of the change & recovery process?   I'm thinking maybe it has and the changes I'm still experiencing are now just me adjusting to what my body wants.

Many years ago, I woke up one morning allergic to sun tan lotions.  My GP at the time told me that there was no real reason for it, just my body deciding it wanted a change of sorts. It took me probably 12 months of trial and error (and a lot of antihistamines to control the resulting rash & itching) to find a sun block I could use that didn't cause a reaction - and this year they changed the formula and packaging to test me some more.  The jury is still out on that, but the allergy still exists some 10 odd years later.

Why then am I surprised this significantly more invasive attack on my body has taken so long to settle down?  Truth be told, I'm not.  The specialists set an expectation it would be a couple of months for my body to settle down post-treatment and 12 months for the immune system to recover.  Got to love optimism, but that triggered all sorts of emotional targets that were in reality totally unrealistic.  I wanted / needed the negative stuff associated with my cancer to be gone as quick as possible - the cancer has gone, now make the pain go too.  If only there had been a magic pill for that (although the morphine did help quell the concerns through the really bad times).

Where am I going with all of this?  Give & Take.  At its most simple level, the treatments gave my body the opportunity to rid itself of the cancer, I had to take the pain and ongoing consequences of it doing that.  At a higher level, there have been the numerous changes in diet, etc to contend with, but for every "take" there was and continues to a greater "give" - the overall end game - life.

Sitting here, enjoying another birthday, it seems appropriate to be somewhat philosophical, but today is a joyous one, so enough of that.

The latest little twist?  I really do think there has been an improvement on the saliva front.  It's not by any means a major recovery, but I'm happy to take every little thing I can get.  That's the give, the take is I've become less tolerant to garlic.

You might say so what, but you see I developed a taste for garlic quite late in life (Moira and others keep waiting for me to acquire a similar desire for mushrooms, but that is just not going to happen if I have nay say in it) and have embraced garlic bread, garlic butter on steaks, etc now for many years.

When the eating process resumed late 2010 / early 2011, bread was still off the menu, but over recent months I've been able to partake of a piece or two of garlic bread.  Garlic butter was never a problem and has been a welcome aid to keep my meat moist these days.  To complete the picture, I've had to adjust my diet to minimise spices as they tend to aggravate my throat.  It has gotten as bad as needing to find tomato sauce that has minimal spices in it and that hasn't been easy.

So, with the scene now painted, imagine my concern when after a meal out last week, I got a quite severe bout of irritated throat that could only be attributed to the garlic bread.  Seems that if the garlic isn't effectively granulated, the "pieces" are sufficient to irritate my throat.  Garlic butter is still fine (phew), but I'm now having to assess garlic toppings for suitability.

The second twist is (no pun intended) KFC Twisters.  These have become part of my lunch options because the chicken tends to be moist and they come wrapped in a tortilla type bread (easy to digest) along with some salad.  Sure, I have to request normal mayo over the normal spicy menu sauce optional, but they have been enjoyable.  It seems KFC has decided to try and be a bit healthier with it's menu offerings and ruined the twister for me.  They now include sliced red onion (never a favourite) and goddamn peppers in the salad.  That's the take, on the give side, I've now given my lunchtime business to subway - via the chicken teriyaki wrap.  To be honest, it is actually more enjoyable than the KFC one, and probably healthier.

See what I mean, sometimes the take yields a greater good.  Ain't life wonderful.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Three More Months

The gang of seven was down to the gang of four at my clinic appointment on the 28th.
I saw Mr Hamilton walking around, but he didn't come to my appointment, so I'm wondering if he concentrates on those undergoing treatment and those immediately post-treatment.

Whatever the reason, it didn't make much difference to the outcome.  I've got another clean bill for another 3 months, and that is all that matters.

I told them about the potential saliva recovery, and while initially somewhat surprised, but also were of the opinion that this is about the time they'd expect to see something happen if it was going to.

Shirley the speech therapist was there and she did another jaw opening test - this time I'm good for 36mm jaw opening.  Also an improvement.

Nothing was said about my slight weight increase, so I'll take it from that they aren't at all concerned.

Did I get stressed out beforehand like usual?  Only a little bit - and it only really kicked in as I left work to go to the appointment.

Three weeks to go for the 2nd anniversary of the confirmed diagnosis.  Wow.  So much has happened in that time and I continue to be somewhat overwhelmed when I look back over that journey.  Despite the passage of time dulling some of the memories, I'll never forget, nor do I want to, what I've been through, or the opportunities I now have.