week 2 round-up
Another week of treatment just started. The weekend was great. I listened to BBC Radio 4 on the computer and recuperated. Yes, my mouth is dry but I’m very far from dead yet.
Sept 1, Monday: I saw Doctor Ding, my radiation doctor, today. She checked my mouth and seemed happy enough with me. I’ve lost one kilo since last week but that’s OK. She asked me what drugs I wanted but I couldn’t really think of any. I asked her about the chemo. In Sweden, it turns out, they don’t use chemo for treating my condition. “Yes,” Dr Ding said, “we didn’t either until about ten years ago, but the chemo makes the radiation more efficient. We get better results.” Better results are good. Maybe the Swedes have something to learn. The radiation session was more of the same. They did some kind of CT scan to keep a record of my progress. Back home again I felt stiff and sort of incommunicado. Too bad, I was pretty cheerful this morning.
Sept 2, Tuesday: Big day today: two doctor’s appointments, radiation and chemo. Doctor Hong, my chemo doctor, liked what he saw: “You’ll make a great recovery.” Someone in the waiting room said he is the best oncologist in all of East Asia. It’s not quite clear how you decide that a certain doctor is “East Asia’s best,” but I’m prepared to believe it. The chemotherapy itself went well. This time I knew what to expect: a needle in my hand and four hours of liquids. Luckily I brought Saga’s MP3 player. My oldest daughter’s taste is very retro: it was full of Bob Dylan, Blondie, Amy Winehouse — and some Tim Minchin that I added. Before I knew it, I was off to radiation. A visit to professor Ko rounded off the day. He too was happy with me. The cut from the tonsillectomy has healed up nicely; the gash on my throat is turning into a proper scar. “My throat is still stiff,” I complained, “and numb.” “Of course, what do you expect. I just operated on you.” When I left Ko did that little hand squeeze that’s so endearing. “Don’t worry too much, OK!.”
Sept 3, Wednesday: easy day today — no doctors, no chemo, only radiation. I felt great in the morning, but stiff and tired coming back in the afternoon. I’m developing a burn on my neck. Diane is applying creams. Seems to help.
Sept 4, Thursday: my friend Tsungyi took me to a book publisher today before my treatment. They are bringing out my blogging book in a Chinese version. Fun, although no one in Taiwan buys anything else than self-help books — and a self-help book it ain’t. After the radiation I was so, so tired and all stiff. Diane took me straight home before she went shopping with the girls. The electricity to our garage door isn’t working which means we have to park far away and carry all the shopping up all the stairs. Our house, like so many in Taiwan, was scrappily designed by unscrupulous contractors. Diane is juggling far too much at the moment. Poor baby.
Sept 5, Friday: the treatment is starting to really bite. I was grouchy and tired all morning. A layer of skin has been peeled off inside my mouth. I can only eat the softest things — scrambled eggs, fruit cocktail. They are rebuilding the room next to the radiation room at the hospital and the smell of putty and wet cement is completely nauseating. I perked up in the evening. I’m self-medicating with Ibuprofen. Great stuff. Let’s hope I can recover a bit over the weekend.
I survived the second week. It was quick in some ways, but the treatment is starting to have a real effect. I’m lethargic and it’s much more difficult to eat. For the first time I can actually imagine that staying in the hospital would be a relief. But we’re not there yet.