Every passing day brings us one day closer to be being done with treatment. Optimism builds when you believe things will not get any worse. Then… you wake up on a Sunday morning to discover the next levels of the side-effect suck!
Voice... GONE!!! I think I am pretty soft spoken already. It’s now gone to the extreme. I can speak for a short time before an intense gag reflex convinces me to stop talking. Air flows across the vocal cords without a problem, but they do not vibrate or resonate as they should. It looks like I’ll be perfecting my best “Silent Bob” imitation for the next four or five weeks in order to convey my ideas to others when pen & paper, or texting are not available. This side-effect suck I can roll with. The next one is “no bueno” at all.
Sleep has become a scary proposition. Sleep equals “way bueno” cuz it is sleep, and sleep... is... gooooooood!!! The scary part is waking up. My mouth dries out when I sleep. I wake up with a dry, burning pain on the back of my tongue and at the top of my throat. Think about cracked and irritated skin you’ll put lotion on to relieve the pain. Now imagine that cracked and irritated skin on your tongue and at the top of your throat! It hurts like hell to swallow at every wake-up!!!
The wake up is usually accompanied by a cough that pushes a nasty substance from the lungs into my mouth, which triggers the “swallow” response. That is the last thing I want to do during the wake up. There is a bit of spitting and a lot of clear water rinsing to moisturize the dry spots without swallowing anymore than necessary. Chewing gum actually offers a bit of comfort at this point.
Chewing on gum exercises the munching muscles, prompts the saliva glands to produce some juice, and makes swallowing a little less painful. We did not hear anything about chewing on gum when others talked about the potential side effects. It certainly helps me as I wake up from each combat nap.
I suppose there are more levels of suck to discover over the next 17 radiation sessions. Stay tuned… I’ll share them when they pop!