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End Phase One

I’m getting too small – according to some

By Tom Hintz

Posted - 2-13-2017

Last week I finished the five-week regime of once per week chemotherapy with every (weekday) day radiation treatments. When I first started making notes for this story I was sort of flying high in that I was not feeling the drastic effects of the treatments so many warned me of and was even being praised by the caregivers for my resistance to them.

Then the last week came around I started feeling worse as everyone had told me I would as the side effects are cumulative. I finished the chemo last week Tuesday and had to finish out the week and Monday of the following week for the final radiation treatments. All that tough guy bravado was fading fast as that cumulative thing jumped up and kicked my butt bigtime. I didn’t know that Superman-tough could be a temporary thing.

Now a good week beyond the last treatment the side effects are still building. It is hard to eat anything as my throat is “hot” and swallowing hurts in ways I would have never expected. My voice goes from fairly normal to a distant gravel sounding whimper. Doing my work for the site is going to take some recovery.

What surprised me most was how weak I had become. While sitting around “relaxing and resting” as everyone was advising I felt OK. But I went to the flying field one day and had the nerve to walk around a little I felt like my legs were made from lead. I tried playing my guitar one day and several cords into the first song I could just barely hang onto the pick. Again, I was warned that fatigue was likely but I had no idea just how tired or weak I could feel.

The good news is that I finally admitted defeat and we went in and asked for help.

The folks doing these treatments have been great and once again stepped up with some medications that seem effective in combating the side effects. I still have weeks to go before they expect all this to calm down but hopefully that fight will get a bit easier as we get into the later weeks. I also have some upcoming appointments with the oncologist and a checkup by the radiation folks, all this coming week so perhaps there is something else we need to do.

One topic that keeps coming up is that I need to gain weight or at least stop losing so much. Now I am in no danger of fading away to nothing so am not worried about another five pounds disappearing but everyone else is. I have dietary supplements I am supposed to mix with anything I eat (their idea, not mine) and I have been trying to get one or two of those in me per day but they want like four per day. I am trying to comply as I can because all this is a thinly veiled threat to put a feeding tube in me. There is going to be a fight over that one. I think I will be fine once my throat heals a bit and I can eat things in any quantity. They want all this to happen yesterday.

At some point now they are going to do more scans to see how my cancer is doing. Did the radiation in fact stop it or shrink it? Can they see any more cancer where we didn’t see it before? If so I could have a bigger problem….. These scans are probably going to determine the extent of my surgery but I have already been warned that once the surgeon gets inside me the plan can change considerably depending on what he sees and what the tissue along the margins of what he removes show.

So now I have to recover enough for the surgeon to feel I am strong enough to withstand major surgery. Then I have to recover from that. All this puts me out at least a few months before I can expect to feel even a little bit of normal. Then there is always the possibility that I will need another round of chemo and radiation after the surgery though that is not in the plan right now. Again, it depends on what they find inside me.

Stay tuned. This is not going to happen quickly but I guess I should be happy that they still think it is worth cutting on me. I keep telling myself that is good news.

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