Thursday, August 20, 2009

When cancer changes your appearance


I have survived over 40 years of ill health. Even so I have learned to live a life of chronic patienthood where I am not dominated by illness. I have managed to focus on goals that have nothing to do with illness. Living life for me is learning to surf above the uneven terrain of my health.

My health history is so involved I have created a Google document to keep track of it. I've had three kidney transplants, a pancreas transplant, 27 years of Type 1 diabetes, and four-plus years of metastasizing cancer. I've broken my leg, elbow, wrist, both feet, hands, skull and ribs (yes, I might be accident prone from time to time). Plus, I've coped with all the secondary illnesses that waltz along with these problems, including osteoporosis, gastroparesis, cataracts, gallbladder failure, impacted bowel and chronic bleeding.

Today, my most obvious issue, a side effect of treatment for head and neck cancer, is chronic facial swelling, also known as moon face. The removal of several lymph nodes from my neck and subsequent radiation treatments have rendered my lymphatic system unable to drain fluids from my head. I get up each morning and remind myself that I'm going to be swollen, tired and nauseous. So if I get something done, like epoxy the hatches of the kayak I'm building, it's a great day. Or if I get through all my (liquid) food, it's a great day. Or if one of our cats comes up to say hello, rubs itself on my leg and settles down for a nap near me … yep: great day! [...]

1 comment :

  1. Refuah Shelayma.
    It is imperative to teach our children and other adults that many physical deformities are side effects to healing medications.


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