Margins negative. That means the tumor that got removed was surrounded by at least a few mm of non cancerous skin, which means there’s no tumor left in my throat. It’s fantastic good news.
It hurts to talk, so I tend to whisper/rasp when I’m speaking. I just had to explain to Dylan that we missed his preschool friend’s party which Dylan had been looking forward to no shit for six fucking months because his retarded friend started talking about it in fucking February because he was so excited even though the party wasn’t until this last weekend. Anyway, I just had to explain to Dylan that we missed his friend’s awesome Dragon Party “because of Daddy’s cancer” which almost made cry hearing my mouth say those words.
But then an hour later I decided to force myself to try and drink again and I was able to sip huge gulpfuls of water into my fucking mouth and swallow them like a normal human being. This wasn’t an incremental improvement, it was a milestone, I could swallow again suddenly, like a person who doesn’t get fed through a fucking straw. And that completely made me cry. I can drink water. Enough water to live. And it’s not terrifying or panic inducing.
my two most recent FB posts. Apparently my sense of humor is creeping back to life:
From Last night:
It’s at times like this that I regret ending every prayer for the past ten years “and Lord, as always, feel free to give me cancer as long as you suspend Tom Brady for four games of the upcoming season.”
From this morning:
Doctor [looks around to other OR room staff, down to me] Now, we need to make sure we’re doing the right procedure on the right patient here, so we have a bit of personally identifiable info that only the right Jonathan Rouse should know [checks clipboard] What’s your most listened to Spotify song since you first subscribed?
[Me, nervously] The Title track off of 5150, the first Sammy Hagar Van Halen album.
[OR erupts in derisive laughter]
[Doctor, unable to suppress mockery] Jesus. Are you sure you don’t have EAR cancer. What the fuck, man? [high fives anesthetist]
The surgery left no stitches. The way mucous membranes work, I guess, is you just carve shit off them and what’s left heals up, which is gnarly and horrifying. The entire back of my throat is exposed scar tissue. Anyway, the point is, I didn’t feel like brushing my teeth after I woke up from surgery. Or the next day. By day three I started to feel like a disgusting monster, like I could feel tartar just forming yellow plaque deposits on all my teeth, so I tried to brush my teeth, only to find out:
You can’t open your mouth wide enough for a toothbrush to reach the back teeth if the membrane near the back of your mouth is freshly wounded scar tissue.
Also, and this is the best part: I turned the toothbrush sideways to fit it through my mouth more easily (like Han Solo does when he’s flying the falcon out of the space worm’s mouth in Ep V!) and it slid in a little TOO easily and I poked myself in the exposed soft tissue of the remnants of my throat because I am a monster who does not deserve love.
Okay, so it’s been four days, I’m halfway through my fifth and it’s totally manageable in the short term. I’m back on pain killers, because for whatever reason the pain increased on days 3 & 4 from the first couple.
The thing that I’m most nervous about is that three different things have to happen to get to normal again. First thing is, my pain has to decrease. That’s absolutely guaranteed as my surgery wounds heal. Not worried. But items two & three may not.
Second thing is, my muscles have to learn new ways to swallow, to approximate functionality that they never had. Like, the ones that used to force foods & water down my throat aren’t weak, or sore, they’re gone. Carved out of my head. So the very tips of those muscles have to do the job that the whole muscle used to do. That might never happen. Certainly now it’s not happening. I can eat Apple Sauce, but mostly by pushing it to the back of my mouth and waiting for gravity to pull it down. That works very very slowly and not for anything much thicker than apple sauce. It definitely doesn’t allow you to drink water, as any large qty will try to go up your sinus cavity and flood your breathing like you’re being waterboarded and it is terrifying.
Third thing is, maybe new tissue will grow. Scar tissue will form, or pull existing muscles into new positions. Again no idea if that will happen, when that will happen, what it will be like when/if that happens. Complete mystery. All I know for sure is that right now, on the very big IF that is, “IF they got all the cancer out,” all I have to worry about is that I may never eat or drink right again. Sure it will get better. I’m very sure it will get better, and I’m very sure this tube will come out pretty soon. But I just spent this morning drowning in my own mucous from my nose every few minutes and being forced to sit upright to drain what previously would just have been the sniffles ’cause I couldn’t swallow a thimble full of my own snot.
36 hrs later. So painful. Worried all the time. Throat muscles not responsive. Major trauma. Won’t get pathology back for 12 days. May not even have been worth it. Shoot me.
Holy shit. I just got the email from the doctor’s office. We have to check in at the hospital tomorrow morning at 5:30. The surgery hospital is 25 miles from here ’cause apparently throat robots are a rare & precious robot and they don’t grow on trees. So we have to leave at 5:00 AM. And since Robin’s coming with me we have to figure out what to do with the kids. I guess they will crash at a friend’s house tonight. The surgery is scheduled for 7:30 AM and is supposed to take one hour so by 8:30 I should be cancer free, although it could be several weeks before that’s official. They have to have a pathologist examine the cut out part to make sure it isn’t cancer all the way through to any of the edges, cause if so, that means there’s still some cancer in me. Then a few weeks later there’s a second surgery I think, to remove some lymph nodes and dissect them to search for further evidence of cancer. If both of those are clear I’m cancer free until they check again, which should happen every six weeks for a year, and then less frequently for like four more years.