Saturday, August 16, 2014

Four Again

Today is re-birthday #4.  August 16th 2010 was my last day of treatment and using the old adage "the first day of the rest of my life".

I've been thinking about doing a new blog post for a while now, but decided to wait and do so today to mark the occasion.

Last year I said these anniversaries weren't the big thing they were originally, but for some reason I'm excited about this one.  Maybe last year being 3 and the "middle one", I got a little non plussed about it, but with today being #4 and only 1 to go, it is pretty hard to overlook the significance.  That's my excuse anyway. 

It seems strange that in 12 months time it will mark the end of the five year period that supposedly signals I'm "cured" - or is just an all clear?  Of course nobody will actually ever say I'm cured, what they'll say is the likelihood of the cancer coming back is extremely low and I'll be in a holding remission state for years to come.  But that's next year's discussion.  As long as  I get a crack at celebrating my 90th birthday as my Aunty Mary did recently, I'll be happy.

Regular readers will have noticed that recent posts talk less and less about the ongoing side-effects of my treatment, and that is largely due to the fact that they are just part of my daily life now and I don't think about them that much.  This is probably a good time to have a catch-up on these issues though.

The dry throat as we know is a result of the radiotherapy nuking my saliva glands. 
On a daily basis, I have a number of tools in my toolkit to deal with it (
mixture of water and biotene spray seems to work most of the time), none of which is a silver bullet.  The dryness still catches me out sometimes after I've been talking for a while, and even when I'm eating too.  I'm still drinking around 750ml of water with every evening meal, lunch varies depending on what is on the menu (anywhere from 400ml to a full 750ml, and at least another two 750ml bottles being consumed during the day.  That's a fair volume of water and yes, the visits to the loo are frequent.  As has happened in previous years, the cold weather seems to produce a deeper sleep and I seem to be able to survive on maybe one interruption to my sleep as opposed to the 3-4 that occur during summer.  Given I drink similar amounts all year round, the only thing I can put it down to is in summer I'm not in such a deep sleep and let the "urge" rule me more than I should.  Will need to work on that - possibly a little bit of mind over matter.

The loss of my higher frequency hearing as a result of the chemo affects the lower sound register.  My frustrations with the hearing aids are now well documented, and they have unfortunately resurfaced.  Returning to work also meant returning to daily use of the hearing aids and what I again found was it made not a jot of difference if I was wearing them or not.  Bugger.  Back to the audiologist and this time I saw someone new who decided to go back to square one.  The aids were sent away to make sure there wasn't an issue (there wasn't), so next step was to check what the ears were actually hearing from the aids.  For the first time I was hooked up to a machine that has a small tube placed a fair way into each ear, then the aids are put on and sounds played.  The machine records what the ear is actually hearing and that highlighted that the aids had been set up to compensate for the wrong frequency losses.  Hallelujah moment.  Duly adjusted, the aids are now delivering a consistent benefit. Now I'm used to them, I'll probably get the volume tweaked a tad, but at least I can hear softly spoken people now, or most of the time anyway.

In reality, these are the only two ongoing issues I have to deal with daily, and I'm fine with that.  Every day above ground is a good day, and I'm thankful the side affects of my treatment are so relatively minor. 

My teeth have thankfully all settled down again, and that leads nicely to the status of the left side of my mouth.  I've mentioned before that things were showing a degree of improvement and to be fair there probably has been, but not to such a level as to be called significant.  Sure I can chew food a little more occasionally on that side now, but it just doesn't feel comfortable to use regularly or for long periods of time.  I'm not sure how much of that is my natural resistance (given I've relied on the right side almost exclusively for so long now) versus a medically induced limitation.  The real test will be if I have an ongoing issue with the right side of my mouth that means I have no other alternative than to push the left to its and my limit.

And FYI, my ankle is still a work in progress - damn it all.  There has been some good progress with strengthening it up a bit, but the exercises also cause it to flare up, so it's almost a classic chicken and egg scenario.  Next Friday they're going to put it in a moon boot to try and reduce the compression that occurs with downward pressure, so that should be interesting (can't bring myself to call it fun).  They're hoping the moon boot will allow everything to settle, thus avoiding surgical intervention.

So, there we go.  The countdown to Year Five officially starts now.  Here's hoping there are no bumps along the way.


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