Monday, April 8, 2013

As The Dust Settles...

Shadow, Friend of Bluebirds.

I just made three doctor appointments ~ ones that everyone makes: a dental cleaning, a ordinary old physical & a cardiologist appointment. Okay, maybe not every one makes a cardiologist appointment. I was advised to make one so my carotid artery (the one that nine out of ten vampires prefer) can be monitored for possible blood clots since it was radiated along with the rest of my throat. The tumor was very close to that artery.

Spent a satisfying weekend cleaning out some of the gardens and have the beginnings of the seasons "garden patina" on my fingers & nails to prove it. I put up a bluebird box yesterday and have two pair of bluebirds feuding over who gets it. Todays mission; buy more BB houses.

Here's the link that will take you to the interview I had with Erica Voll, who writes for the University of Penn website: Penn Medicine Focus on Cancer. I sure hope that it, along with this blog, can offer additional information from the patient's viewpoint for anyone who may be undergoing these procedures.

I had a Band-O-Bald running around the bottom of my scalp.
Info for others who may be going through this...
My new hair is coming in nicely ~ no grey! This picture is 14 weeks out from last radiation.

My tongue still has the "pins & needles" sensation, but it is slooooowly diminishing. I haven't spurted spontaneous tears in a while, except for a totally unrelated event; when the writers of Downton Abbey killed off Matthew. 

I massage my lymphatic fluid vessels every day and try to wear the compression bandage as long as I can bear it. I can see (what I think) is a little bit of lymphedema now and then and it keeps me on the stick. Because I google stuff. And the images for "Lymphedema of the Neck" are NOT attractive.

Here is how my neck is looking these days.
Mouth opening abilities will be tested with the dental cleaning I have scheduled next week. I can open it about two fingers wide. This requires the squishing down of anything bigger than, say, a sandwich. That's okay though. When I was first set free after radiation, I was told to practice opening my mouth until it was at the point of pain, and to exercise my neck by doing a series of exercises. At my last appointment, I was told NOT to do this anymore and not to push my mouth opening any further either, as they are changing the thinking on that. It makes me wonder if we will ever stop learning about our bodies and the ailments they get. 

I recently saw an article published by Reuters about a company called Navidea Biopharmaceuticals Inc. They've come up with a cancer diagnostic agent that "... was effective in identifying the first lymph node reached by the disease in patients with head and neck cancer.  The diagnostic agent, Lymphoseek, correctly identified cancer in 38 of the 39 patients determined to have cancer in their lymph nodes, the company said. ... The company said detection of cancer-affected nodes by "Lymphoseek" led the the removal of only about four lymph nodes per patient on an average, while surgery ~ considered the gold standard to detect the spread of cancer ~ led to the removal of about 38 lymph nodes per patient. ..." I think that's pretty exciting! I sure hope it doesn't cause Hot Dog Fingers though.

My constant companion is a water bottle. 

My scar doesn't bother me one bit, aesthetically. Actually, I think it's dashing and romantic. I even have a vampire bite mark ~ two whitish scars ~ where my two drains were. Several times a day I will put moisturizer on the scar area. I'm partial to good old Cetaphil. The scar still "pulls" a little and pains me just a tad when the lymph fluids make it puffy above the cut. In the photo of my hair coming in, you can see where the neck around my scar is a tad puffy today. 

Couldn't resist buying these lovelies...
I bought a big, floppy straw hat to wear outside, since I'm to have no sun on my neck for this first year. Plus, I couldn't resist buying some pretty flowers when I went to get the bird boxes.

Speaking of flowers, I'm thinking of myself as more of a "Perennial" than an "Annual" these days :)

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