Well, it all started simply enough. I got a toothache. Or what I thought was a toothache. Being a good little steward of my health, I brought it to my dentist's attention right away. He sent me to a periodontist. "No problem," said the periodontist. "I see a little extra flap of skin. Make an appointment for a 45 minute surgery. We'll cut it off and fix you right up." That appointment was three weeks away. Well, the pain grew. And grew. And soon I was pounding my fists on the table in reaction to the searing torture raging in my mouth. I called that periodontist and begged him to get me in earlier. He did. I counted the days until the appointment and went in happily. He got me in the chair, told me to open wide, and I watched all the color drain from his face. "This isn't the same jaw I saw two weeks ago", said he. He took an x-ray, showed it to me, and I swear I was staring at the bombed out shell of Aleppo's skyline. "What causes something like that?" I asked. "Cancer", he replied.
So, that started the conveyor belt of one doctor after another. One scan after another. Some straight up. Others with contrasts. At one point I had had so many scans with contrasts I was told not to get within arm's length of anyone pregnant for 48 hours.
Long story short, I have Stage III Head and Neck Cancer. Sounds icky, huh? Fear not! My surgeon (who just so happens to be the president of the National Association of Head and Neck Cancer Surgeons! What? How'd I get so lucky?) tells me I'm in for a few months I'll care never to repeat, but then I'm going to be fine. I love my team. The surgeons, the radiologists, the nurses, the educators...all of them are top notch. I got my home team, headed by Sweetie. I've got the world's greatest group of friends and a boss who promises to keep my seat warm for me. What more can a gal ask for?
My surgery is Wednesday, October 12th. It's five surgeries in one. They'll remove what's left of my lower right jaw and replace it with bone from my leg and a nerve from my big toe. Yes, my foot will actually be in my mouth from now on. They'll use skin from my hip to graft my leg. They'll use a metal scaffolding for my new jaw, lay the leg bone on top of that, and sew it up. They'll take 20 lymph nodes from my neck and while they're at it they'll take out one of my salivary glands, too. . About four weeks after that, I start daily radiation. There's even a chance I won't require chemo! Once the leg bone starts acting like a jaw bone, I can start having implants for the teeth that were sacrificed. They tell me 7 - 10 days in the hospital. Two weeks on the outside. My surgeon's tell me I'll be all Elephant Boy for about six weeks. So as not to frighten young children, our home will be my world. I'm stocked with coloring books, jigsaw puzzles, and lists of shows and movies to binge watch. I'll get lots of writing done, I hope. I'm shooting for Thanksgiving as my first out-in-public extravaganza. I plan to be back at work in January.
It is my plan, and Sweetie's too, for me to be fine. Lots of scars. But you know me, I'll keep you entertained with all kinds of tales of daring-do to explain them away. Some may involved secret espionage. Still others may have me saving dogs from torture at the hands of a criminal war lord. Stay tuned. I'll have weeks and weeks to work on my stories.
I'd love to hear your best wishes. Only positive stuff allowed. Tell me about your day. Send me a funny photo.