Categorized | 2010, Events, October

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One Month Post-Surgery

Posted on 15 October 2010 by Scott

the sun also rises

Been a little while since I’ve posted, but wanted to save up for a big one…

Met with the Surgeon yesterday, Dr. G. He walked past the examination room, presumably having just gotten in, passed and then backed up. He didn’t recognize me at first. Sometimes, I do the same. It’s been a pretty wild recovery- not crazy, just more wild as in how quickly things have gotten better for me, at least superficially.

The appointment went well enough. Dr. G came in and poked around for a little while, asking a few questions. He then helped me dig out a couple stray stitches. The night before, I had found and pulled a couple myself. Not the most appetizing of things to be pulling from your lip. Sometimes I wonder if there’s more, or how else they’re going to pop up/out. Here’s a look at a couple:

pulled from my lip, by me

The one on the right is not a self-dissolving stitch. It’s blue, I’m guessing in the hopes that it would be more visible when the rest of the stitches get pulled. Now, the one on the left is a little trickier. It’s not blue and I would therefore guess that it’s supposed to just dissolve. Looking at it in the picture doesn’t necessarily lend much credence to that theory then, does it? Looks to me like some kind of crazy knot- that hasn’t done anything. It’s a little creepy- sitting there with tweezers and hunting for stuff that doesn’t belong in your face. Stuff that is alerting you to that fact by poking out and waiting for you to grab it. Truly wild.

On to greener pastures…

my PEG-tube

The PEG-tube has adjusted and has become a part of me now. Not a welcome part, but a part all the same.  My body seems to have finally adjusted to having this doo-dah jutting from my gut and while it does irritate the shit out of me sometimes, we’ve gotten to be close friends. The bandage type thing around it is just to hold it in place. There is no joy in pulling that off, I have to keep the area shaved to conserve hair… However, I have figured out that I can push it all the way in and pull it out which freaks me out a little. At the right party? Look out ladies! [billed cost of having this put in? $4,760]

post-glossectomy mouth photos

I’m going to guess that this would be the picture that you’re most looking forward to. Supposing that you have questions about what it’s like to have your tongue out and then have an implant in, these pictures ought to help clear that up for you. I didn’t take any pictures of my tongue pre-surgery, unfortunately. The image on the left is a couple of days after surgery and the image on the right is one month after.

The yellowish cast is gone from my tongue. Right now it’s peeling a little and sloughing, but the surgeon didn’t say anything about that yesterday, so I’m guessing that’s cool. It could be from finally moving on to semi/mostly solids and actually getting something in there with some substance. Not a big concern.

My lip and chin have really turned out well. You’d have  a tough time telling that I’ve had surgery there, especially with the removal of the stray stitches.

The missing tooth is where they split my jaw. That gap is closing up pretty quickly, and depending on how the wisdom teeth coming out goes, I may just leave it. No sense getting a new chopper if it’s gonna look pretty normal without it. We’ll have to see about that one.

If you look closely at the area right in front of the tongue to right behind my lower lip, you might notice some saliva there. It seems to collect there now and I often have to slurp it back. The new tongue won’t go much forward of where it is in the picture, so I have to figure out how else to get it out of there when I open my mouth to eat or talk. Sometimes it just dumps out and that’s not cool.

post-glossectomy neck photos

These pictures couldn’t be more different, I don’t think.

In the photo on the left, I’ve got a drain tube in, the trach tube and a whole mess of stitches. In the photo on the right, I’ve got a spot where the trach was that is healing over, a small scar from the drain tube that ought to go away soon and a pretty awesome looking scar that’s healing over quite nicely.

I was so glad to get the drain-bulbs out. Imagine these things hanging out of you that are there simply to collect nasty post-surgical fluids. They just hang there and fill up, get drained, etc. Not the most pleasant of things to say the least.

Right in the corner there, down by my Adam’s apple there is a collection of stuff that’s going on, but I just have to massage it out and past just under my left earlobe and it should go away. I imagine I’ll have to do that for a while, the Surgeon called it a “roadblock” and mentioned that he can drain it, too. I can think of worse…

radial forearm free flap - transplant site

This is the part of my arm that they made the new tongue from.

The picture on the left is when they had just removed the packing (filling) and the cast. Muscle, skin, veins, and nerves were taken from here to hook up the new tongue. It looked pretty sick when they first unpacked it, but it’s coming along nicely now. The little “tail” in the image on the right is the scar from where they took the vein to install the tongue, it extends to just past my elbow.

The whole transplant site is something of an anomaly for me. It’s not the most pleasant to look at and alternates between numbness and super-sensitivity. I can pull stuff and not feel a thing in some spots and if I breathe on it wrong in others I’m in pain. A few more months ought to get it straightened out. I have some mobility and strength issues there now and they are expected to continue, but diminish. The big scab on the right heals a little each day and does not hurt.

skin graft site photos

These two images are of my left thigh. They took skin from there to cover up the “sharkbite” on my left forearm.

In the image on the right, it’s really just a giant scab. It wasn’t painful as such, but getting it loosened up whenever I wanted to walk was somewhat painful. Damn thing seemed to just heal as one big piece and it wasn’t terribly flexible. Now though, I’m good. It’s just a bit of tenderness, akin to “road rash” if you’ve ever had that.

my big ol' mug

There you have it… One month out of surgery and healing up quite nicely. Too bad, though, that it’s not quite over. Matter of fact, I’m only in the eye of the storm. I’ve still got teeth to come out, recovery from that, and then I start radiation and chemotherapy. Not really something that I’m looking forward to, but ready to get it done. There’s a theory out there that if surgery goes well, it’s the rest that will get you. That doesn’t sit so well with me.

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  • Conroy

    Thats some good news dude. Hey, least you got something in common with Tony Montana. Good luck with the rest of the recovery.

  • Kate Brown

    You are looking great! Well I thought the surgery was hell. The rest wasn’t as bad. So go w m theory! K

  • Joanne Davidson

    Hey you,

    Welcome to the “I’ve had cancer” club. Sorry you’re a member but the good side is everyday from now on is a healing day. I’m two years out now. It does get better…honest. Here’s hoping it goes by quickly and you can get on with things. You’re a true inspiration. I love your blog.

  • Donna

    OMG….looking at these photo’s is like taking a walk down memory lane. The feeding tube, ugly and uncomfortable as it is, will be a life saver when going through treatment. I promise you that. I kept mine for about nine months after treatment was completed.

    Gotta ask — did the skin graph on your leg hurt? I remember waking up after the big surgery and the thing that hurt me most was not my mouth, not my tongue, not my neck, not my arm….but MY LEG hurt like a SOB. GO FIGURE!

    I’ll be following your blog and like I wrote in my e-mail, if I can help you in anyway, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’ve been there, done that, no doubt. No question too silly or too personal — I’m an open book.

    AND REMEMBER…. I was stage IV too. I SURVIVED and so will you!! Keep positive and stay strong…..

    Best,
    Donna

  • http://www.edibletexts.com Scott

    I didn’t even know about the leg graft until they came to clean it. I hadn’t been out of bed in days and just didn’t see it.

    Then, they pulled back the covers and there it was. Under this sort of Saran Wrap was what they called a “soupy” mess.

    It really didn’t hurt, until they sent someone in to clean it. She pulled out a gauze bandage and soaked it in peroxide before laying it over part of the graft. I think I levitated. I know that I could have killed someone at that point. When that didn’t work, she had to clean it with forceps which was better, but not by much.

    After that, it scabbed up as one big scab which was torturous but only until it cracked and started to heal. Only for a day or two…

    Nope, still the worst for me was when they had to re inflate my collapsed right lung. I won’t get into it here, but that really sucked! And the trachea…

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  • Jaysen

    Sorry to hear you are going through all this “GlowDog”. Ken sent me a link to your site and I really did not know what to expect. It looks like things are getting better for you. You are looking a whole lot better than I had anticipated. Keep it up!

    Peace!
    -Jay

  • sleepypolar

    Sorry that you are going through this. I also have tongue cancer. Praying for you. It looks things are getting better for you. You are strong man. God bless you, and wish you full recovery. Rough road lies ahead, but you seem to be the type who will rough out. Good luck to you my brother.

  • http://www.edibletexts.com Scott

    Thanks, buddy! Too bad you got it too… yuck. Best wishes to you, Scott

  • http://www.edibletexts.com Scott

    Jaysen,

    How nice to hear from you!

    Yep, this sucks. I’m just over halfway done with chemo/radiation and it’s been pretty rough. Found out that I’m allergic to one of my drugs (not pretty) and battling the radiation sores in my mouth.

    Other than that, I’m doing alright. And, that’s enough most of the time.

    Hope you’re well and I’ll try to catch up with you soon!

    Scott

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Time Since

  • I left the operating table:
    5 months, 1 week, 5 days
  • I started radiation/chemo:
    3 months, 1 week, 5 days
  • I ended radiation/chemo:
    1 month, 4 weeks, 2 days

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