Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Yep, I'm Still Here

It's strange how time just passes by these days.  I consciously decided not to do a normal "end of year" review, and before you know it, we're at the beginning of March.  Bugger me.

So, given the passage of time, what is there to pass on?  Surprisingly quite a lot.

I started the new year with a strange tenderness on the left side of my head.  It ran form basically the top of my head down to just above my ear.  Being the side the cancer was on, my ever logical brain knew it wasn't normal and having persevered with it for a week or so, it was off for what ended up being a series of Doctor's visits.  Not that the tenderness required prolonged treatment, the problem was they couldn't decide what the problem was.  None of this was helped by the fact my normal doctor was away.  So the diagnosis fluctuated from potentially something to worry about, to possibly scabies, to nothing to worry about, to something to talk to the specialist about at my next appointment.

Hmmm, at least when I had the cancer, there was no doubts.

Anyhow, as the specialist appointment was the following week, it was decided he would have to sort it out.

Which takes us to that very same appointment.  The appointments with Mr Morrissey normally start with a hearing test, and this was to be no different.  They like to know if the hearing is staying static or getting worse (more on that later), so I go through a full blown test each time.  I actually wasn't meant to be - last time Mr Morrissey said as the last 3 had been basically identical there was no need, but that message didn't seem to filter down.  The audiologist did her normal check of my ears to start with and low and behold there was a large wax build-up in the right ear (left one was clear).  so instead of the hearing check, it was straight on for Mr Morrissey to address the wax issue and decide whether the hearing test was to be done.

As with these sorts of things, it required a period of waiting, but eventually Mr Morrissey called us in and the hearing test was crossed of the list.  After the obligatory feel and look down my throat (they are finding ways to get around my gag reflex these days and invariably get a look that satisfies them) it was on to the head tenderness.  Seems there was nothing sinister indicated, so it was just a case of letting things run their course - which they did over the next few days.

In case you were wondering, there was a significant amount of wax in the left ear that required removing.  Seems to be some weird side effect of everything that it only happens in that ear. Not sure if it is related to the radiotherapy or the hearing aids, but it is the 2nd time they've had to clear that ear out.  Hearing did improve instantly as a result though.

The great news to come from the appointment is I'm now on a six-monthly clinic cycle going forward.  Now I'm two years + on from the end of treatment, the chances of a recurrence continue to get lower, and this is reflected in the longer appointment cycle.  Next appointment isn't due until July.  Yippee!

Next challenge was the on-going issues with the hearing aids.  Despite the latest tune-up pre-Christmas, I still felt that there was no real benefit being offered from them.  So back for another visit we go (we're now over a year since I first got them and hadn't expected to be still trying to fine-tune them at this stage).  This time, the decision was made to replace the open cups with a medium semi-closed cup.  The cups are what actually goes into the ear, and the fully open ones allow my natural hearing to assist as much as possible.  Seems the issue was that this natural input was actually working against the hearing aids to some extent, and thereby negating some of the benefit.  The semi-closed ones restrict the amount of sound coming into the ear naturally, effectively shifting the responsibility to the hearing aids.  The benefit from the new cups was virtually instant and coupled with a change to the volume settings, I think we might finally have cracked it.

And that pretty much covers of through until mid-January.  Since then, things have been pretty normal.  I've managed to start shifting the Xmas weight gain (although still a work in progress) and that is probably a good thing because slowly but surely I think I'm getting more recovery on the saliva front.  Either that or I've just adjusted so much it isn't such an issue any more.  That said, eating a meal still requires a good 500-700 ml of water to assist the process, so maybe it is the latter, or a mixture of the both.

Proof of the change is evident with hot cross buns.  2011 I could manage 1/2 a bun (and Ruth inherited the other 5 in the pack), whereas now, with the aid of a reasonably substantial amount of spread, I can manage two whole ones.  Sure it does take some time, but I at least get there now.

So, there you are, almost up to date again.  They say time is a great healer, and I subscribe to that as with each passing day I think I am losing a small amount of that lingering awareness of what I've been through in so far as the limitations are concerned.  I have no desire to lose either the memories or subsequent changes to my life that came from the experience though.

Stay safe you all.