I've been trying to return the focus of this blog back to art, mostly my own, but I've been meaning to throw out a cancer update as I haven't had one in a while.
There isn't anything new to report, just some remaining issues to deal with. Some have gotten better, some worse. It's hard to say whether the saliva issue is getting better or not. It's been six months since my last radiation treatment and I have to say that I don't know that I'm all that much further than I was last August. There is some difference in that I can swallow certain foods that I wasn't able to then, chicken and certain other meats in particular. Breads are still pretty much a no-go unless I have a full glass of whatever to help it down. The lack of saliva simply makes it impossible for me to swallow such dry fair. I can swallow it part way but once it hits the back of my tongue, it sticks there, holding on for dear life and sometimes even milk or water won't force it down and I have to choke it up or choke on it. Makes for great dinner company.
The main reason I'm not sure there's been much progress, even though I can eat things I couldn't before, is how dry my mouth gets at night. This hasn't changed much since August. I wake up 5 or 6 times to get something to drink or simply rinse my mouth, as my lips tend to get stuck to my teeth and my tongue to the roof of my mouth. I used to keep a small bottle of Biotene next to the bed but that stuff is useless. Water works just as well, which is really only for about an hour. Then it's back to not being able to open my mouth. On the plus side, I'm fairly certain the surgery cured my sleep apnea.
And then there's my shoulder. This is part of the whole neck and chest muscle thing. The surgeon took my right pec muscle and used it to fill in the gaping hole in my neck after surgery. The muscle still works, but being a chest muscle doesn't much help in your neck. It needs to not work. Any flex of my chest muscle and I get an unpleasant "tug" in my throat and mouth, where my tongue attaches to the base of my mouth. The muscle was reattached at the underside of my jaw and any use of that muscle pulls on the jaw and tissue there, feeling like it's going to tear every time I do something like roll over in bed. Anything that uses that pec muscle. A push-up would be a bit traumatic.
But back to the shoulder. The chest and throat issues I've kinda learned to live with. Therapy doesn't seem to fix things so much as alleviate the tightness for a while. The problem with my shoulder can be helped by therapy, but I'm not sure how much, really. When they took the muscle from my chest, they only cut one anchor point, at the shoulder, and simply pivoted it around and reattached that anchor point to my chin. In addition to doing all the chest flexing, this muscle also helped keep my shoulder in place, helped keep the joint attached. Now any extreme movements of my shoulder, like scratching my ass or sleeping on my right side, make it feel like my shoulder has dislocated, which is a real possibility.
And then we get to the other issues. The ones that have nothing to do with cancer. My roommate, Kevin, was basically killed by a drunk driver in 2007. He died on the street and was revived in the chopper. Crushed skull, lacerated liver, broken bones now with metal in them, brain trauma. He should have been on disability since then, but since his wife was a waste of skin like mine, she didn't do much of anything to help him and the other people in his life didn't do much either, apparently. Anyway, long story short, he had a seizure the other day. Woke up on the floor with blood in his mouth. Went to the emergency room and got x-rays and a cat scan and yup, seizure.
So now, doctor's orders, he can't drive, can't work and needs to get the disability he should have been on since '07. Except that it takes about nine months to get approved for disability. And how is he supposed to live between now and then? Food? Rent? Bills? With no job and no car and no ability to work? Seeing as Arizona has no financial assistance for adults... No answer to that other than - I have to find more work than I already have but somehow make sure my part-time crap job is crappy enough to not make more than $900 a month or I lose my health insurance and can't get it back. As a friend said to me today, that's literally life and death for me.
So yeah, not winning.