week 6 round-up
This is the round-up of the sixth week of my treatment. No, there isn’t much time left, but it’s going to be the most difficult part. I find it very hard to talk and to eat.
Sept 29, Monday: another typhoon has arrived and schools and jobs are closed. My daughters are very happy. My friend Mei-hong emailed to say that only emergency services are open at NTU Hospital. Too bad. I don’t want to postpone treatment even one day. I want to get this done now. But in Taiwan there is no arguing with a typhoon. Btw, it seems the fungal infection in my mouth has returned. It really hurts and it puts me in a rotten mood.
Sept 30, Tuesday, morning: I can’t speak this morning and I can’t eat or drink. The fungal infection is twisting my mouth. I’m seeing Professor Ko in the afternoon — if I only can make my way to Taipei — and we’ll see what he says. Maybe I should ask to be admitted to the hospital?
Sept 30, Tuesday: “Fungal infection isn’t the problem,” says professor Ko when I meet him. “You have mucositis.” Aha! I have indeed read about mucositis. So that’s what makes my gums bubble up and what twists my mouth! “It’s stage 3 of radiation damage,” says Ko, “but don’t worry, there is a stage 4 too.” When I leave, professor Ko gives me a little bottle. “It’s the best thing around — cocaine! You know, coke!” After the radiation session I meet Dr Hong. “You need more painkiller,” he says. “You need something strong.” And then he gives me a 500 ml bottle of liquid morphine! Leaving the hospital, the street value of the contents of my bag has multiplied about 5000 times. Only class A drugs, only the best. Bless all those hard-working peasants in Colombia and Afghanistan! Btw, my doctors don’t seem to think that I need to be hospitalized. But taking no chances I went home by wheel-chair — at NTU you can just borrow a wheel-chair, if you need one, free of charge. Diane is learning how to push me around (in contrast to most wives, she’s never done a lot of that). Problem: I didn’t eat enough today, hardly anything at all.
Oct 1, Wednesday: Today was, believe it or not, the last chemotherapy session. I’m doing radiation next Wednesday, but no chemo. I won’t miss it exactly, but chemo has been OK. It’s calm in the chemo room; I listen to music; they pump me full of water. Today I asked for an extra liter of H2O — and since I didn’t go to the bathroom for hours, the nurse called in a doctor to investigate where all the water was going. Clearly I was dehydrated. Btw, the chemicals didn’t make me lose my hair in the end. There are two bald patches behind my ears, but other than that the hair seems to be staying. Great — I never looked good in a bandanna. We came home late. I hope I can get some oatmeal down. Six treatment days to go.
Oct 2, Thursday: Bless my new wheel-chair. Diane wheels me from door to door and everything is easy and quick. Bless my new drugs. I’m relaxed and I have nice dreams. I’m eating much better. Tonight Diane made home-made salmon soup for dinner. I couldn’t taste it really, since all my taste buds are shot, but it smelled great and above all — it went down and stayed down.
Oct 3, Friday: Easiest Friday for weeks thanks to my wheel-chair and the new drugs. I just sat down in the chair and Diane took care of the rest. To everyone around me I must have looked all zonked out, and I guess I was, but it’s better to be zonked out than wide awake and in pain. I don’t mind sleeping my way through next week.
I spent most of the weekend catatonically staring in front of me. It’s so extraordinarily difficult to get things done. Even drinking a glass of honey water takes two hours. I can’t speak anymore. I communicate with Diane by shaking or nodding my head. My friend Meihong took care of the children on Sunday. They went to a movie, went biking and had bagles. They came home very happy. The appointment card is almost full now — but only 4 stamps this week since Monday was off for typhoon.