Friday, June 15, 2007

About two years ago I got a sore spot at the back of the right side of my tongue. It hurt when hot or cold or just about any food touched it. I started to eat everything on the left side of my mouth. The size of the spot would come and go.

I went to the doctor who sent me to Dr. Studtmann, an ENT guy in Jackson. Dr. Studtmann said that it was called a leukoplakia, which simply means white spot in Latin. He said that if it changes in size it is probably not cancer. A biopsy confirmed that it was not cancer.

I began to go to see Dr. S every six months.

In April when I went he did a biopsy. It hurt. It hurt so much that I didn't think I was going to be able to make it home. When I got here, I searched and found some pain pills from a long ago dental procedure and took that. After a while, the pain subsided.

At my appointment with the doctor the next week, he said the biopsy showed cancer. He was puzzled and not inclined to believe it. He said it did not look like a cancer and, in particular, it did not feel like a cancer. He said cancers are hard; this is soft. He had his partner also examine my mouth.

He made an appointment for me to go to the Imaging Center to have a CT scan of my mouth and another appointment with him. He also said he was going to have the biopsy slide examined again.

Mother died the night before those two appointments. I cancelled them and made more appointments for the following week.

When I got to see the doctor, he said it was cancer. They had re-examined the slides and compared them with a previous okay slide. There were definitely changes, definitely cancer. He scheduled surgery for May 14. He said it would be extremely painful but he would prescribe me good drugs.

I worried a lot between the biopsy and the final diagnosis of cancer. After the diagnosis I did not worry. Uncertainty is something I can't handle. I had bought a copy of the movie The Queen to watch if I ever got really nervous and worried about things. Julia and I finally watched it two weeks after my surgery and we watched it because she wanted to see it. So I think I handled it pretty well.

The absolute worst part was telling the girls. And the worst part of that was after I reassured Beth that I was going to be all right, she voiced what they probably both were thinking. She said she had been told that before, that everything would be all right. She was talking about George Rodney and his illness. It broke my heart but I understood.

Anne and I had scheduled a trip to Florida to help Beth with wedding preparations. We went ahead and made the trip. It was great and we had a good time.

On Monday Julia took me to the hospital. In the prep room an aide took my wedding and engagement rings off for the first time in years. It felt odd.

I can't remember anything until I woke up in my hospital room. Julia was there. My tongue felt huge. It was swollen and actually was huge. My whole mouth was sore and hurt. The doctor had said it was okay not to eat but it was imperative for me to drink. It was agony to drink. I used a straw to get the liquid to the back of my mouth but each swallow was agony. I tried to take some sips every thirty minutes.

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