The former more than the latter, to be completely honest, as it was a long drive to the dentist this morning via my usual path that takes me past vast swaths of land that is protected or that is part of the lands to parks program. I am also not partial to growing roses, or flowers of any sort, really, other than sunflowers and zinnias (and marigolds to try to keep the bugs at bay). This to see if a tooth – or, should I say, yet another tooth – which had started to fall apart, shearing off in pieces at the gumline, should be rebuilt or should just be pulled. This is a tooth I’d previously had a root canal on, something I realized when looking at it in the mirror and seeing the vertical trench that was left in the remaining portion of the tooth, and the posts used to fill the canal that were coming out from that procedure.
And this is one of the ironies of my life, really. I have a device to help passively stretch my jaws. Using it involves placing it between the frontmost upper and lower teeth. In the past three months, I’ve been through scans, biopsies, surgeries, a week in the hospital, recovery time at home in pain, then getting a bit better, then taking a downturn with massive pain on the left side (not the side on which the surgery was done), then managing to use the device for a couple of days, then having the tooth start to fall apart, which led to so much pain that once again, the device was put aside. So, I need to be able to use the device before the eventuality that all my teeth are pulled so I’ll be able to get fitted for fake teeth. Yet, I cannot use it because my teeth insist on falling apart at a rate that grows faster and faster as time passes. One would think they’d have a way to treat this in a better manner, given everything that is known about trismus and what happens when it isn’t stressed enough to a head and neck cancer patient that keeping the jaw muscles active (even though typically, you’re eating through a tube for a great while) is vital.
In other news, I had a PET scan on Tuesday. I was expecting results by the end of the week, but remarkably enough, the radiation oncologist called the very next day with results: the stuff that needed to come out on the right side was all collected, and it looks clear. What does not look clear is the left lung, which shows fluid. Being the nice guy he is, he called the radiologist to have them pull the previous scans and xray from before surgery, and wouldn’t you know it: fluid in the left lung. It appears that walking pneumonia may very well be a valid side diagnosis to all this cancer business after all.
And that brings me to my personal hell week. Next week, an appointment with the oncologist, to go over the PET scan and to plot a course of action (likely: quarterly scans to keep an eye on me, since they don’t know what else to do with me since I insist on being different). An appointment with the pulmonologist, to talk about this fluid on the left side, and figure out a course of action for that (likely: a base, post-surgery xray, with a followup in a couple of weeks, which leaves me with more time to cough and get short of breath from time to time). A visit with my accountant, to tell me that I need to write a check. And also a possibility, an appointment with a nutrionist, given my weight loss in the hospital that took me down to about 100 pounds, and my inability to get more weight on even though it seems like I am constantly shoving food down my piehole – and, to add to the fun, I seem to be bouncing between 98 and 100. If I lose any more weight, the chances of having to have a feeding tube put back in increases, and quite frankly, remembering that particular experience from last time, this is not something I want to do again.
And so we go, moving from one thing to another, dealing once more with the aftereffects of another cancer diagnosis that should not have happened. The garden is almost entirely a lost cause, but what did I spy the other day when taking a brief foray out? Eggplants! Black, shiny eggplants, hanging on the plants that have managed to survive brutal, incessant heat and brutal, damaging storms that roll through here and there. The okra continues to be a scary, vibrant presence that needs harvesting in the worst way. The second round of peanuts have come up, and the way the weather looks, it will be warm enough into December that they will have maximum growth. I have yet to start any flats for fall because it simply continues to be much too hot to plant those things out by the time they would be ready to graduate. Overall, the season has been lost, again. But another season does approach, albeit slowly, and I’m looking forward to it.