Step one is over. I have had the surgery and am recovering from that before the radiation starts. I lost a third of my tongue and a bunch of lymph nodes on the right side of my neck, some of which were malignant. I have a scar that looks like someone tried to cut my head off. I had 2 drains in the right side but both are gone now. The surgery was Friday, March 2. I got to come home from the hospital Wednesday, March 7. I got the second drain out of my neck on Friday, March 9.
The chunk of tongue that's gone is on the right side towards the middle. I've been on liquids and pureed food, and am slowly going to have to re-learn to swallow. My speech, according to the doctor, is amazingly good, but compared to the perfect diction I used to have, I think I sound ghastly, and I tend to spit when I talk. Part of my tongue is still numb and part stings. Seem to taste everything OK, but I never had much of a palate.
I have gone from 200 lbs. and a size 22 to 178 lbs. and a size 16 in 3 months. If I had any illusions about the weight staying off (never has before), I'd regard that as the silver lining. I've learned that I'll get thinner before this is over, so I'm setting about packing up my regular clothes and gleaning smaller ones from assorted thrift shops. As long as I have pants that fit, I don't really mind baggy tops. I never liked my clothes tight. Weirdness: I know I've lost all this weight, and I can sure tell when I look at specific body parts, but when I look at my entire self in the mirror, I think I look about the same. Thin or fat, it's still me in here. I really only notice how fat I am in pictures. I should probably take pictures to commemorate my thinness!
I sound like I'm handling all this well, and I don't let a lot of the stuff inside out. But I'm really scared. I have zero risk factors for this kind of cancer, and got it anyway. It went from nothing to stage 3 (there are only 4 stages) in 2 months. This kind likes to grow back. You can bet my dentist is going to get tired of "Refer me to the dental surgeon! There's a thing on my tongue!" from now on. The what-if bunnies are multiplying. What if I get one like that somewhere not so noticeable? What if it grows back and they have to cut out more of my tongue? What if the radiation makes me lose my teeth? Terror. Oddly, I don't dream anything scary. I think my subconscious is realizing I don't need anything else. The teeth thing might not get to anyone else but my dad had full dentures the whole time I knew him, and it instilled in me a deep desire to die with all my teeth in place. Preferably of an advanced age. Hair, schmair, it grows back. Leave me my teeth.