It’s good that this is the month to be aware of thyroid cancer because boy, am I sure aware of it. After a year away, in which I could effectively spend most of my time living in denial, I’m back in the medical system with lots of followup appointments and tests. I haven’t done a lot of public post-cancer reflection on this blog, other than a brief stint in February, when I was working through my own struggles with the memory of lost time (start here and hit “next” for the series if you missed it).
But now I’m back and so it’s appointment after appointment. Mostly my doctors tell me I look good, which I mostly do since I’ve managed to achieve something approximating the expected sabbatical weight loss. A year later I have some lingering complications, and complications to my complications. Most of them are pretty minor when I catalog them: I learned in visiting with my radiation oncologists that the sudden, frequent and painful neck spasms I’ve been having since May are likely the result of scarred muscle from the external beam radiation treatment (as he put it, “we have to put the radiation somewhere, and it’s better than your bones). Massage and hopefully physical therapy will help with that but I have no idea what the long term prognosis is. A hernia I first experienced after waking from my 4-day-twilight in February 2010 bothers me from time to time. The worst flare up involved a car, bubble tea, coughing and laughing. And there’s other stuff I will leave off the blog for now. But of course the big thing is the voice.
People tell me my voice sounds fine, and if it’s not too loud around, I suppose it does. It resembles the way my voice used to sound. But ultimately, it’s not the sound of the voice (well, it is its sound in that people say “what?” to me a lot more and computers and phone menus don’t recognize my voice as a voice). AS I said in my August 29th entry, it’s the experience and the mechanics of speaking. I have been waiting to try and give a fuller description of what it is like to talk now. Wednesday I have an appointment with a laryngologist that should yield some insights. Not that my audience is waiting with baited breath or anything, but I will finally start to deliver on the impaired vocal phenomenology then.