Sunday, November 05, 2006

I’m tubeless!

I went to see the ologists last week. It was the first time I had seen the chemo guy and the radiation guy since they completed treating me at the end of June. They were absolutely delighted with the outcome of my treatment and operation. I heard the words “pathologically complete response” several times during my visit. I, of course, had loads of questions. Once you’ve had cancer, no matter how positive the outcome you know there’s a risk of recurrence, of that one little bastard cell that escaped and is now setting up residence in some other organ. So I asked about “insurance chemo”, the application of further chemo treatment to search and destroy. Because, as I said, I resisted the effects of chemo reasonably well. “Except for the heart attack” they chimed in almost perfect unison. Yes, well, there is that. I had mentally relegated that episode to insignificance, but they reminded me that it was an extremely close call, that the chemo is nasty poisonous stuff, that the odds were really good that they had indeed got it all, and certainly not worth the risk of further nastiness. OK, I’m convinced. Won’t stop me getting twitchy every three months before the cancer scans though.
My major success on that visit was probably the most mundane – I got the surgeon to remove the hated feeding tube. I haven’t needed to use it since about two or three weeks after the operation. Even though I’ve needed dilations, I have resisted feeding through the tube. The thing is just ridiculous, flopping about next to my action man kit. I’ve been going to the gym regularly for a while now and it’s surprising how wide-eyed people get when they see this little rubber tube sticking out of your belly when you walk out of the shower. So I asked – actually insisted – that he take it out. Which he did on the spot. No stitches, which surprised me. The thing just closes up and heals. So I’ve now got two navels, a new one just to the side and up a bit from the original.
Another question I posed while I was there was about self-dilations. I read an esophageal cancer news group and I’d seen there a few references to self-dilation. The surgeon was a bit surprised when I brought the subject up, but he said if I could stomach it (good pun opportunity there) then he would let me try it. I had a dilation scheduled for the next day, so after that was complete he came to see me and gave me another tube. It’s a bit intimidating actually. It’s made of a silicone-type material so it’s pretty slick when wet, and has a tapered flexible tip. It’s heavy, filled with a tungsten gel so the weight helps it to go down. To use it, you make like a sword swallower – head back, open wide, and slide it down. Well, saying it was easy, I’m pretty sure that doing it will be another story. He doesn’t want me to do this until two weeks after the dilation that he just did, so look out for the next blog update to see if I was successful or not.


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