I’m not sure why my big review is taking so long but it is. In the meantime, a more mundane general update.
My voice continues to improve. I still don’t have the vocal power I once did and I noted that when visited by a friend who has attended lots of rock concerts that he said “what?” to me more than usual, but in normal speech I seem to do okay without the voice amp. I snuck into campus again Thursday for my last seminar to see the rest of the student presentations and have taken a few student meetings this week. It is nice to have some sense of normality back even if it is only temporary.
Speaking of normal, Friday night I took Carrie out for a pre-birthday dinner at a pupuseria. I dipped a chip into the salsa expecting to taste only the slight sweetness of the tomatoes and a bit of spicy on my tongue. Instead I was hit with a wave of sour and salty. “This salsa is A-MAY-ZING,” I said to Carrie. But of course it wasn’t. I was just tasting sour and salty for the first time in weeks. I’m not sure why it happened that way. A query to my survivor listserv earlier in the week produced responses from people who had a variety of stories. For some, the taste buds just turned back on. My speech therapist suggested Biotene mouthwash–which could be branded “The Pavlov of Mouthwashes”–and I have been using it religiously.
This is especially good because external beam patients with whom I have corresponded suggested that I should make a point of enjoying foods that I enjoy because a) it may be awhile and b) some of my taste may never come back after the next round. Morbid sounding but sound advice. Everyone I’ve told has asked what my favorite food is. The truth is that I have no idea. I am pleased, though, as I joked that my taste would come back the day before EBR, and now I’ve got a few weeks to enjoy it.
On the other hand, the fact that my voice is improving means that other symptoms are starting to annoy me more. Most notable is the fatigue, which I did not have this long after the first surgery. Granted, I didn’t spend a bunch of time in the hospital and I didn’t have radioactive iodine, but I suspect this is garden-variety hypothyroidism. I am trying to strike a balance between looking after it and ignoring it, as I don’t want to spend my whole life on the couch complaining about being hypothyroid. So some days I take naps and some days I try and “power through.” I don’t find that I am sleeping a lot longer at night. I’m still at about 7.5 hours per night as usual. Last night some friends visited and I didn’t feel good at all. But my not feeling good was outweighed by my desire to see my friends. In a way I take this as a good sign. My voice is healed enough that I am more annoyed by something else. I don’t think the fatigue is worse than it was*, I just think it is more apparent as my “worst” symptom now.
In addition to fatigue, I notice some other symptoms. I’m moody. Hormonal, even. I don’t like it. I even lost my temper at someone on the phone Monday and while I believe I was “in the right” on the substance of the matter, it still isn’t how I want to behave toward people regardless of whether I am right about something (Carrie, the cat and close friends and coworkers have thus far escaped my wrath and I’d like to keep it that way). I also find that I feel an aching weakness in my hands and forearms, and am somewhat clumsy (these somehow feel like “the same” symptom). And when the temperature dropped back down last week, one morning Carrie woke up to find me wearing two sweatshirts, two pairs of socks and a stocking cap indoors. And she wasn’t particularly cold at all. I notice it takes me longer to warm up than other people, so the hat actually goes on indoors kind of regularly or stays on for awhile when I come in from the outdoors. Carrie calls it my new look. It’s funny. I used to complain about always running hot, but running cold is its own kind of a drag if you can’t get warm. Now I know how the other half lives.
I have two CT scans in the next two weeks–the second is in preparation for my Encounter With The Beam, which is tentatively scheduled to begin the 2nd week of May, though that could change. They were waiting for my trache to fully heal. I don’t know what’s happening on the inside, but on the outside the hole is closed and I’m no longer wearing a bandage, which is great news for my skin around the hole.
That’s it for now. More clever thoughts tomorrow or the next day when I have some.
* All those ecstatic posts around March 11th? That was definitely the ‘roids talking. When I asked my Endo about whether the reason I was feeling bad now and good in March had anything to do with them, he just laughed and said “people love the steroids.” Oh well, I guess that was my experiment with uppers if you’re not counting caffeine.