Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Elephant in the Room

Some parts of this post will be very hard to write, and some of it might be hard to read.  I want to sort of "wind up" my cancer/recovery vigil, partly to come to an end of only cancer related posts, and partly to remind myself of where I am right now, so that in a few months I can go back and look at the progress I've made. I really appreciate those who have followed me on this journey, because it is pleasant to read the comments of those who are encouraging me.  

Anyway....I was in Omaha today for a doctor's appointment, again, I'm getting tired of going to the doctor.  However, this was a two months out visit, and so will the next one be.  The visits are now turning into, checking over all my lymph glands to see if there are any changes and cleaning out my sinuses, debridement, it's called.  It entails the doctor looking up into my sinus cavity (which is truly a one big open hole) with a light and a forceps with a tiny alligator mouth on the end, cleaning out the crusted old mucus lingering there.  This is part of the healing process, it used to take an hour every month to clean me out, and it took twenty minutes today, and then some suctioning, So, the doctor was pleased.  It means the inside of me is healing.  He said that someday, I may not have to have the clean out done at all.   I know it sounds horrible, and while it isn't very pleasant to watch, it really isn't painful, just a little uncomfortable.   
A year ago this month I was self-doctoring for supposed sinus infection.  After spring break, I went to the doctor and got antibiotics for said supposed infection.  And that is where it started.  A year later, I have half of my strength back, no smell, little taste, a tired brain, and hardly any saliva.  My sinuses are still healing, draining and producing extra mucus which drains down my throat and I gag.  But, I have no tumor, and no residual cancer.  
Any recovery now will be virtually unnoticeable.  So, it is time to say good-bye to cancer posts, and onto real life.  

Now, about that elephant.
Sadly, one of the things I've had to deal with during my treatment and recovery is the odor that lingers in my sinuses.  Some days, it is a really horrible smell that can be detected at a distance from me, some days it isn't there at all, some days you have to be right next to me to smell it.  It is caused by all that extra mucus sitting around in my sinus cavity.  Since my sinuses are not normal at all, they don't act normal either.  The stuff doesn't blow or drain out of my nose.  I rinse twice daily to remove some of the mucus, but it doesn't all come out and what sits in there gets smelly.  Jim and I spent quite a bit of time trying to find a pattern to the odor, like, does it happen when I have a certain taste in my mouth, or when my nose runs a little more, or if I have more drainage than usual.  But, there is no pattern.  I can't tell when it's there, I have no sense of smell.  I have to depend on Jim to sniff me before I go places so I can rinse.  That helps.  Except when it doesn't.  I don't like this. It bothers Jim sometimes, and the poor guy has to live with me.  And what about other people?  It makes me hesitant about getting next to people and talking to them.  It can be very unpleasant to be next to me when it is really bad.  Anyway, I know what is going on, we are doing what we can and I hope this isn't a permanent condition.  It was very encouraging today for the doctor to say that eventually I won't need to have the mucus cleared out, and I am hoping I won't have the odor anymore after that.

I am looking at another year of recovery, for sinus healing, for a normal voice, for possible saliva.  So, I am ordering my life to live for right now, if it doesn't get any better than this it's okay. 
 I'm fine. 
Anything else is gravy.   


The J's said...

I had a warm fuzzy feeling when I finished your post. I love your positive out (up) look, and I love your last sentence--Ordering your life to live for right now. Is it time to throw a party? :)

Dorothy said...

Thanks for formally introducing The Elephant. I've heard that elephants can and do shrink, so perhaps in time he will just gracefully back out of the room. It's bound to get better. In the meantime, I just found xylitol gum that ISN'T mint Burn The Sore Mouth flavor, so will send it if you haven't tried it already.
Your goals (sinus healing, normal voice, possible saliva) make me remember I take an awful lot for granted.
Keep up the good work. I hope you get the gravy. Lots of it.

janis said...

Love your attitude!! Whether we've walked your walk or not, you're an inspiration!

Renee said...

You are so forthright and sensible, Shelley...I want to be more like that. I'm sure having an elephant as a companion would be rather bothersome....I hope yours gets tired of you and leaves soon. Keep blogging...we love your posts!

Anita said...

Ditto the others- you really have a straightforward way with all of this. I keep thinking of different of your past posts as I think of my own close friend who is just beginning her cancer fight. Hers is a different kind but I know there will be similarities.
And here's hoping that elephant does, indeed, shrink...and vanish! xo

Darcie said...

Once again...thanks for sharing all your thoughts and experiences of the past year. You have and continue to be one brave and inspiring lady. Love what Dorothy said, about the elephant.