March 14, 2012


I saw my ENT yesterday because my throat was sore in spite of not speaking for a couple of weeks. He worked with my radiation doctor to get me into surgery tomorrow (Thursday). The node that is on my vocal cord has more than doubled in size in two weeks, and he's concerned that it will block my airway if it isn't removed soon. The surgery will call for one overnight stay, and I'll be released Friday morning.

I have to admit this news made me upset. I know: it's such a minor thing compared to all that has been going on. But I was prepared—after the initial shock—for the chemo, the surgery, the radiation. I was not prepared for this. I sat in the lobby of the medical building and texted Abe the news when a friend saw me and called out my name as she walked over. She asked how I was and I burst into tears. I literally cried on her shoulder for a minute. She was there exactly when I needed her. She was very sweet and said all the right things. My family and friends have been a huge source of strength for me.

I do feel better now. Sometimes you just have to cry.

March 7, 2012

The Last Word

Monday I saw my speech therapist. Wait: let me back up and explain WHY I have a speech therapist.

Apparently during mastectomy surgery four weeks ago, the anesthesiologist scarred my right vocal cord when intubating me. (He also left me with a fat lip and a displaced jaw that hurt when eating for a couple of weeks. Yes, I will be addressing this.) Anyway, my vocal cord is getting worse, not better.

A few days ago I stopped talking because my throat hurt and my voice was almost a whisper. I wrote on a card: “Injured throat—I shouldn’t talk. Sorry!” I got some interesting responses. Some spoke louder, but a number of people started gesturing or writing. I would have laughed if I could have, but I’ve since added “But YOU can talk—my hearing is fine.” That has worked much better and earned a lot of smiles. A few people still want to whisper for some reason, though. *sigh*

So now I have a speech therapist. He told me he wants me to continue my silence (“vocal rest”) for six to eight weeks. Six to eight weeks of my husband getting the last word every single time. Abe would be ecstatic if it weren’t for the reason this happened. He’s waited for this opportunity for years. (He continues to be wonderful to me and for me, by the way. Everyone should be this lucky.) I told him to enjoy it while he can.

I’ve been assigned three exercises to do several times a day. I call them “breathe, hum and purr.” I just purred and Sophie jumped up and ran to my side. I think I’ve found a way to call her!

My radiation therapy started today and runs for six weeks (33 daily treatments Monday through Friday), so I will be silent for the duration. The treatment itself is something of a non-event: lie on the table and wait while the machine moves and hums around you. The reactions—if any—usually start two weeks later.

While I continue to scribble short notes everywhere, I await the arrival of my New iPad (yes, that’s what it’s called) on March 16. I type much faster than I write, so I will use it for communication for these two months of silence. I will be presenting the bill for this and all related charges to my anesthesiologist.

Since I can’t talk, I cannot answer the phone down at the Damien Center each Wednesday. I’ve decided to use these Wednesdays to work on my book. I need to think about something besides cancer. This will do my heart good.