Tumourtown

This Thursday, I go back into hospital for a few days.  The operation to remove the titanium plate from my jaw will take place early on Friday morning.  I’ll spend a few days recovering on the ward and about two weeks recovering at home.  My face will swell up again from the surgical trauma and, my surgeon expects, will take four weeks to go down again.

I am looking forward to the surgery.  Last time, I could look forward to the surgery because I had no idea what was to come.  Much as I prepared myself, I had no idea how tortuous and torturous the days afterwards in intensive care would be and how the minutes would slowly become hours and the hours slowly become days.  I had no idea what a tracheostomy would feel like or what the pain medication fentanyl would do.

I am glad I did not know and was not swayed to resist the surgery.  I never contemplated not pursuing the hemi-mandibulectomy to remove the tumour and mandibular reconstruction to rebuild my jaw.  I mention this because I have recently read the series that Christopher Hitchens wrote in Vanity Fair about his adventures in ‘Tumourtown’: Topic of Cancer (September 2010), Unanswerable Prayers (October 2010), Tumortown (November 2010), Miss Manners and the Big C (December 2010), and Trial of the Will (January 2012).  Whatever you may or may not have thought of his views, he wrote beautifully.  Among the issues he contemplated was whether he would have endured the treatment knowing how rough and ultimately ineffective it would prove.  I think it helped me not to know how awful the treatment would be and to face it as it came.

This time around, I know I have coped with worse and can cope again.  I also now know – and this is perhaps the best lesson I learnt in 2011 – that I need not sweat the small stuff because I can do the big stuff.  There are risks from this surgery, of course.  Further nerve damage is, as I understand it, the most likely.  And yet it could go the other way: the removal of the titanium plate could relieve pressure on the mandibular branch of my facial nerve and I could gain more movement in the left of my lower lip.  Time will tell, as they say.

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Comments

  1. I shall read those this evening. I expect to be a smidge busy during today.

  2. Oh yes you will. There are cats to point at and sand pits to empty and Alannah will want your participation!

  3. Good luck! I think that you are strong enough to face anything now!! My thoughts are with you!!

  4. Good luck. You’ve done so well thus far. Will be thinking of you.

  5. @ Kate and Ann – Thank you. Fingers crossed.

  6. You’re a tough little nut.
    It seems so long ago since your “journey” began – yet it’s not even 12 months yet.
    Time can seem very elastic.
    Wouldn’t it be good if they could bedazzle, vagazzle, or in your case – j’jazzle your jaw?
    Screw in some diamantes along your jaw line?
    For a bit of happy decoration?
    Good luck!!

  7. @ Letty – I love that: yes, time does seem so very elastic. Alannah was coming up to 10 months when I was first diagnosed … and now she’s coming up to 18 months!

  8. Lots of people are thinking of you and praying for you and your family this week, Kirsten, and I’m pleased to be one of them.

  9. Hope all goes well…….. don’t underestimate the power of distraction, to help with pain and discomfort. I made a Thomas the Tank quilt top yesterday ( for my grandson) to cope with the heatwave conditions up here, all the math was quite distracting !
    I will keep you in my thoughts.

  10. Good luck. I hope it all goes much better than you expect. x

  11. Thank you everyone.

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