Friday, February 15, 2008

Allies and Angels

Week two of Radiotherapy has now ended, with a three day weekend and no trips to Bethesda until Tuesday!

Last week I noted that side effects start in week two and three.  While true, I have had few side effects so far.  However, overlooking the obvious, the PRIMARY effects of both radio and chemo therapy do appear in week two. Ouch...

In this war, I have discovered that the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat are like Israeli soldiers - doesn't matter what the attack, they keep on fighting back.

However, the saliva glands are a lot more like French soldiers - they fire a couple of shots and run away.

The radiotherapy has attacked the tumors pretty effectively, according to the films.  But after just a week, the saliva system booked out, leaving the mucous membranes firing on all cylinders.  Yuck!

The result is that my mouth and throat are awash in thick mucous, stuff which would go away if only there was some saliva to help it dissolve.  This creates an unhappy mouth which has now grown sores and developed thrush - both of which  give one a sore throat unlike any I've ever had.

Picture this - each morning, I awake to discover that I've SWALLOWED MY CAR KEYS which are stuck in my throat.  Much of the morning is spent trying to resolve that dilemma while heading back for yet more time with Goldfinger.  So much for biological allies.

There are medical allies, of course.  Much is focused on trying to keep my mouth able to swallow and most of that is in various mouth care and  mouthwash products.

Some are for saving teeth, some are for dry mouth, one is for thrush and my favorite contains lidocaine, which helps dull pain.  Each comes with a helpful suggestion - "swish and spit" or "swish and swallow."  But my Beast Barracks squad leader told me never to do anything that had to do with "swishing..."  The accurate instruction would be, "gag and retch."

Finally for this week, angels.  We all have them, and I hope most of you had the chance to thank your angels yesterday on Valentines Day.  I have a bunch of angels for whom I am grateful - including you!

Thought I'd share two pictures of some Carlson angels.  These are my Denver angels, Whitney and Olivia, along with Matt and Mindy.  A new Denver angel will arrive in a few weeks!

The second is a picture at New Years of the Northern VA angels, Chris, Hannah and Soren Lee as well as Jonah and Samuel Carlson.

Of course, the head angel of all of them is the lovely Miss Victoria Galore, who keeps us all in line.

Going through cancer therapy together is a reaffirmation of the 38 years we've been roommates.  I don't know how I could even begin this journey without her by my side.

We have discovered, however, that as she drives to and from Bethesda each day, the best use of my time is to ignore the traffic and her driving, instead checking the inside of my eyelids for small holes...  Live and learn!

See you on the high ground!


The Queen Vee said...

My driving is great it's the Washington DC traffic that is scary so just keep taking those car naps!

You need to just keep swallowing, I know it's getting hard, but sad to say you ain't felt nothing yet. I know I'm going to become your meanest Drill Sgt. Can't help it, got to do it cause I love ya.

You will beat this evil enemy, you can do it!

Anderson Zoo Keepers said...

When the big T and I lived in DC right after we got married we were temple workers during the Friday night session where we had to report at 6pm. I think our marriage is strong now because it went through its testing phase on that Beltway drive each Friday night between 4:30 and 6:00pm. It was sort of an amazing thing to get into the parking lot in something resembling a rage with each other and then walk into the temple needing to love each other and life in general. DC traffic rocks. It makes marriage strong.

You will beat this and you'll do it with flying colors in no small part due to your head cheerleader. I know she's been, and continues to be one of my greatest sources of strength.

I love you both.

Pinspot said...

Well I can't say that I'm happy that you posted that picture of my family as I hate it, but know that we love you and are praying for you.

Sorry that you feel like you've swallowed your car keys. Just don't swallow the car.

Pinspot said...

That last comment was posted by Matt

The Dragonfly said...

Daddy you are doing great! You can do this and I am going to be there to cheer for you with my little "angels" in tow (we all know they can be demons!)

And mom - you are doing great too.

chelsea said...

I love that you call your head angel your roommate! That is awesome! Working with breast cancer patients daily and hearing stories about radiation/chemo (among the tears) I wish I could tell you it will get better! We will see you on higher ground! Keep up the good work (and those naps during the drive)!

The Carlsons said...

Nice dig on the French! I love it! Sounds like your throat has met a cheese grater. Keep being tough!

Crazy Granny said...

Victoria is a lovely driver, and I'm certain that you want to stick around for many more road trips with her.

Tobi said...

GO, FIGHT, WIN! Do your best to keep your spirits up. We are all rooting for you and we look forward to your recovery!