It has been 10 weeks since my last radiation treatment. I guess it was overly optimistic of me to think that I’d be back to normal by now. I do feel much better and have more energy and fewer episodes of fatigue. I’m also maintaining my weight with the help of a feeding tube, although I’m 20 lbs lighter than when I started treatments. Things are definitely improving but at a much slower pace than I had hoped.
I have much of my taste back but textures of foods feel all wrong. My throat gets very irritated if I try to swallow any food. It’s also very difficult to get anything other than liquids down. It feels like my throat has shrunk and it takes a lot of water to help it down due to lack of saliva production. I’m starting to eat more but the throat pain limits my intake.
I need to be able to eat enough to maintain my weight without supplementing with the feeding tube so I can finally have it removed. It’s strange how some things taste exactly like they did before but now are not enjoyable at all. I don’t have cravings for anything anymore. I can’t wait to start enjoying food again, eat full time and lose the tube.
When this started I was strongly opposed to getting a feeding tube. Now I realize I couldn’t have made it through this without it. It allowed me to pump in all of my calories and nutrition which made healing possible. It really hasn’t negatively impacted my daily activities. As long as I tape it down good, so it doesn’t get snagged on anything, it doesn’t get in the way.
I saw the ENT last week who said that everything looks good and is healing normally. I’m scheduled for a PET scan on November 14th. This will be at 12 weeks post treatment. Hoping all goes well with that! I’m really looking forward to getting back to work. I’m so lucky to work for a great company. The management and my fellow employees at Frye-Williamson have been super supportive. I can’t thank them enough.
Treatments are over but the burns seem to be getting worse along with the way I feel. I’m told I just need to tough it out for a couple of weeks and I’ll turn the corner and notice some improvement. It can’t come fast enough.
Yesterday evening I started experiencing some shortness of breath and coughing. I had a massive headache all afternoon and evening since my chemo treatment. I was drinking plenty of water to make sure it wasn’t dehydration. Took a couple of Tylenol but that didn’t help. When I went to bed I was struggling to inhale. Exhaling didn’t seem to be a problem but I had to make an effort to get air in my lungs. At one point I experienced some fluttering in my chest like heart palpitations. At that time I figured the smart thing to do would be to go to the hospital in case I was having a delayed reaction to the Cetuximab treatment.
May drove and we arrived at the hospital at around 11:30pm. They gave me a saline IV, blood test, EKG, chest x-ray, CT scan looking for blood clots. My blood pressure was elevated 149/90. It usually runs 115/65 so it was a little abnormal for me but not dangerous. Everything else was normal. The RN gave me a steroid shot to help with any inflammation. Within 10 minutes after the shot the headache began to subside and my blood pressure normalized. I don’t know if it was the steroid shot or just the fact that the IV fluids had been going for a couple of hours at this point.
They did another EKG and blood test to see if there had been any change since my arrival but everything was normal. I was released and made it home around 4:30am. We still have no idea what happened. A nurse suggested it could be anything from a reaction to the chemo or Benadryl, to simply anxiety. I was really hoping it wasn’t a reaction to the Cetuximab (Erbitux) because that would mean I’d have to stop treatments and start Cisplatin treatments which I’m told has much harsher side effects.
When I called the Oncologist today to tell them about the trip I explained that I may have overreacted by going to the ER. They said “Absolutely not!” and that these symptoms should be checked out immediately. It could have been very bad, but luckily It’s all good! Feeling great today.