I'm a 69 year old retired Mental Health Professional who currently runs a small Dog Sitting Business out of my home in Houma, Louisiana. I enjoy camping in my RV with my two little Shih Tzus and we prefer the beach. I've always been a Beach Bum.
This blog is going to serve as a log of ongoing events during this voyage of the damned.
On the morning of February 3rd 2017, after brushing my teeth, I looked up in the mirror and saw a lump on the left side of my neck. Immediately felt that this was serious and not just a swollen gland. Just a gut feeling but very scary.
Naturally, it was the weekend so had to wait till Monday February 6th to made an appointment with my family doctor Scott Haydel. I was seen on that day and treated with a 10 day regimen of Amoxicillin for an infected lymph node coming from somewhere in my throat. I felt that it was not just an infected lymph node but much worse. The antibiotic made me ill and I only took it for 6 days with no improvement in the lump. Went back to Dr. Haydel and he ordered a CAT scan.
On February 9th I had the CAT scan. Nine days later Dr. Haydel called me to inform me of the results. He said that there was a nodule found on my scan and I was referred to an ENT doctor.
On February 22nd I saw Dr. Byer at the ENT clinic. He looked at my throat with an instrument that went through my nose. He saw the ulcer, at the base of my tongue and said it was three quarters of an inch in size. He examined the lump on the outside of my left neck. He explained that he would perform surgery to remove my left tonsil, do a needle biopsy of the lump, and take a biopsy of the ulcer. About 5 months ago I started to feel like there was something stuck in my throat but thought it was due to stress and that it would go away. I don't know how long this ulcer has been growing in my throat but it seems that it took 5 months for it to infect my lymph node.
On February 23rd I saw Dr. Byer again. This time was to go over the paperwork and explain in detail what he was going to do during surgery.
On February 27th I am scheduled to go to Pre Admit at the Gulf Coast Surgical Center. Then on March 6th I am to have the surgery.
Of course I had to google and read and inform myself of what to expect. Not sure that was a good idea. The testimonials were frightening. The removal of the tonsil will cause much pain and last up to 2 weeks. The good thing about the readings is that tips were given to help with the healing process as well as what I'll be able to swallow during that time.
Last night I ordered a cool mist humidifier online which was recommended to ease the discomfort in the throat which dries out and causes pain. Also read about using Hydrogen Peroxide mouthwash to aid in preventing bleeding. I will be given pain meds but read that Liquid Cherry Tylenol and Benadryl for swelling is also helpful. Maalox or Pepto Bismol also for nausea and upset stomach. All in all, I found the testimonials helpful although depressing. Didn't sleep well last night. My mind is in turmoil.
During all of this, I've continued to work at my Dog Sitting business and it is very hard to care for the dogs while my mind is on what is to come. Just cancelled two sitting jobs for March at a loss of $200.
My Humana insurance has an office visit co-pay of $50 which I paid at both visits. The PreAdmit department called and said I would owe $225 at my upcoming visit on February 27th. They informed me that my insurance was going to pay 100% of my bill for their Surgery Center. However, there will be separate bills from the anesthesiologist and the doctor. So far I'm looking at out of pocket $325.
I know I shouldn't be thinking too far ahead but I have a pretty good idea what treatment for throat cancer is about. I watched my dad suffer and die from this exact same thing - 28 years ago this week. Two years after his diagnosis he was gone. He was a smoker and heavy drinker. Dr. Beyer told me that there have been some improvements in the treatment since 1989 and that was encouraging.
I can't help but wonder why I have this as I am not a smoker or drinker. Reading online I discovered other reasons why people get throat cancer. I guess I fall into one of those categories.
I'm going to need some emotional support through this and am looking online for someone to talk to. Joined a couple of Facebook groups and am looking for a group locally. My neighbor Evelyn will be taking me to the surgery center which I am grateful for. My friend Sylvia said she would come and stay with me if I needed her. I probably will. My friend Carolyn said she'd help out caring for my pets.
Haven't called my son in Baton Rouge yet. Wanted to wait till after the surgery but I think he needs to know before, just in case.