You may well have guessed that I’m referring to the excellent 1986 film starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. For the uninitiated: Seth Brundle, a brilliant but eccentric scientist (played by Jeff Goldblum), attempts matter transformation from one teleportation booth to another but unfortunately, just as the door closes, a fly enters and there begins his transformation into man/fly. The film is not for the squeamish, but neither is the chemo drug Taxol which I’m taking at the moment.
To come back to my point - I was standing looking in the bathroom mirror and noticed a stray long hair in my eyebrow. With the precision of a surgeon I carefully pulled the offending article away with my fingers and, bugger it, half my eyebrow fell out. “Crikey,” I said to myself, “better leave that well alone.” I decided a brush was a better solution for my head and carefully went through my hair, which promptly decided to fall out as well. “Crikey,” I said to myself. Well actually that’s a complete lie. As you’ve probably guessed the words uttered are unprintable. My first reaction was to think how Seth Brundle must have felt when he looked in the mirror and his teeth came out with just a pull of his fingers. Needless to say I didn’t brush my teeth straight away!
Welcome to the wonderful world of Taxol, the chemo drug that could double up as a sink unblocker. After Cathy shaved my head it took a while to get used to the effect but, as with everything else that has gone on in the last week, I shrugged it off as ‘another one of those things’ and decided to move on. I bought myself a nice selection of hats and decided to have a celebratory hot chocolate with Cathy, most of which dribbled down my chin onto the table.
Now, you may think I’m either taking this very lightly, have lost the plot completely, or am delusional on a myriad of drugs but you’re mistaken. After spending three days in hospital earlier in the week with my esophagus shut completely this was a walk in the park. As Cathy described in the previous blog post, this occurred merely because I attempted to swallow an extremely well chewed, tiny piece of hot dog sausage. The effect of having your food pipe shut solid is devastating.
You end up having to spit your own saliva out literally every five minutes, twenty four hours a day. A hellish experience I would never wish to repeat. This was supposed to be my week leading some semblance of normal life before my next chemo session on March 19th. It wasn’t to be. I was admitted into hospital on Saturday March 10th.
On the Monday after repeated failed attempts at using muscle relaxants and trying to cough the blockage up there was no alternative but an operation. I couldn’t believe it. My third trip into the ENT theatre in the last six weeks. I was in some sort of dream (nightmare) like haze. This time I didn’t care what they did as long as they could clear the blockage. Was it risky? Very much so. With luck they would be able to put an endoscope down (they had to use paediatric ones as my esophagus is so narrow) and clear the blockage fairly quickly. The worst scenario would be a tear in the esophagus which would require either an immediate operation or a lengthy stay in a High Dependancy Unit. An esophageal tear is potentially fatal as infection can spread to the chest.
Luckily, with a dedicated team behind me, whom I’ve gotten to know so well, they managed to dilate the very top of the esophagus and even though they found no food blockage there, presumed it had dropped through to my stomach. Even the general anaesthetic may have helped by relaxing the muscle wall completely. I was able to swallow a little again. I cannot begin to tell you what the simple pleasure of being able to have a cup of tea again was like. I was in heaven. I have come to accept the fact that I will never be able to swallow solid food again, but to not being able to swallow liquids, albeit in small quantities was too much to bear for me.
Just in the last month I have had a stomach peg fitted. I’ve had an infection in the wound that lasted for nearly four weeks. All of my hair has fallen out. I suffer from neuropathy which is intolerably painful at times. My blocked esophagus was operated on plus I’ve had the bonus treat of a chemo session. Oh, and the icing on the cake is…I discovered a lump on my back which was scanned on Friday March 16th and the results will be returned in a week’s time. Next time you feel you’ve had a bad day in work - think again.