Friday, December 17, 2010

Clear signs so far

John reported that his latest MRI scans show no signs of cancer so this is good news. His sense of taste is still out of whack however – sometimes too intense and sometimes not enough intensity. Unfortunately, even when it is too intense – after the first few bites it turns into bland mouth, so the joy of eating is still equivocal. He has still had trouble putting on more weight.

John has also found it disappointing that the dentist has found 4 cavities in spite of his frequent brushing, flossing, and mouthwash. Since before the therapy John had almost no cavities, this is a major change in his dental health. Apparently saliva is an important cavity-fighting mechanism and since his saliva glands are not yet back to normal he has lost their benefit.

His energy is slowly returning, but not as fast as he would like, apparently. He is back into his old routine, however: visiting Dorothy on a regular basis, making the paper runs to Gibson’s, and visiting Bill’s place on Bowen Island. It’s like the old days – but we know that all has changed.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Strange flavours

It's been a while since I added a blog entry - but this has been good news. John reports that he is gradually regaining his strength: he is once again making his paper runs to Gibson's, visiting Dorothy twice a week, and keeping up with his gardening.

He has also been coping with the strange effects of regaining taste. The first signs of taste returning was a high sensitivity to only certain flavours - like green pepper and garlic. Eating Italian food tasted like a blast of garlic, John reported - and all it needed was a small mount of green pepper to overwhelm all the other flavours. In his latest phone call he now reports that there is too much cinnamon in his cinnamon bun. Food textures are also a challenge. At times chewing is just too uncomfortable.

His saliva is not yet back to normal, his lower 'beard' is still peach fuzz, and his skin has a post-sunburn smoothness - leaving him with a 'distinguished' look according to the Purolater clerk. I expect that his slimmer look also helps.

John will be visiting the doctor on Monday and will be having a PET scan at the end of the month. He has had a number of blood tests along the way, with 'no news is good news' results. The PET scan is a more thorough test. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, September 17, 2010


John reports that he is doing well, but he remains tired most of the time. His voice is back (but not his beard and taste) but he is getting around more. Aaron sent me some photos that will give you an idea of the new John.

The first is one of John in the mesh mask that they used to hold his head still for the radiation treatment.

This one is a look at the results of his weight loss routine. All that butter and cream doesn’t seem to have had a major effect!

Here’s a closeup of his radiation-imposed beard style.

Monday, September 6, 2010

On the Mend

It was great to HEAR John on the phone this evening. His voice is returning and he reports that he can speak without pain. He sounded like a long-time smoker, however, and complained of not having much energy, but is no longer on medication and found that the nausea disappeared about a week ago. Even his bowel movements are getting more regular.

Now he’s waiting for his taste to return. He can still smell the lovely flavours of Patty’s special soups, he says, but the eating is flavourless. “I’m full of envy and jealousy now!” he reports, “All this lovely food – even the fresh blueberry crumble didn’t taste like anything!”

The crumble was served up at his visit to Gibson’s on Sunday. He had enough energy for that trip – and was even able to take the 2-hr wait for the ferry in his stride. He was not up to a Cindy Lauper concert on Friday, however, so headed off to visit his Mum instead.

He has appointments for blood work on September 26th and October 6th – and the dentist has already given him the assurance that his teeth look good.

So now it’s only recuperation on the menu. He still has 250 ml of “swish and swallow” to keep the thrush at bay, but beyond that it is up to his body to mend. He figures that just about the time he starts to get his beard back, he will begin tasting food again. Until that time, it’s eating by the clock rather than the flavour.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Silent Man

John sent an e-mail explaining that he is now the Silent Man. His nausea is gone, but he is dealing with a very sore throat. He can only whisper - and that even hurts him so we won't be phoning him for a while. He lives on tylenol and won-ton soup - along with laxatives to counteract the constipation from the drugs. He wrote that he is living in the "happy crappy" phase.

Patty is taking good care of him now that Wilma and Gary have gone. She keeps the stock of soup plentiful and provides the sign language translation where necessary.

Friday, August 27, 2010

End Game

Bobby Fischer always argued that the game of chess was determined by the “end game” – all the early and middle moves are designed to get in a strategic position for those final ones. Now that the chemo is completed and John had his last radiation treatment we are all hoping that his end game will be a piece of cake! From here, it is a process of ensuring the best conditions for recuperation, and waiting for the tests to come in about 6 weeks or so.

Wilma reported that John’s throat is rather raw – we could hear it on the phone. He sounded like he had a bad case of laryngitis. He still feels nauseous and is very tired but now has enough saliva to spit. Who would imagine that this is a good sign? The dentist was one, since it means that John’s saliva will once again start to work its wonder against tooth decay. In addition, the dentist reported that his teeth are in good shape – another positive note!

John has lost a lot of weight over the last several weeks so will need to work at putting it back on through a rather sore throat. Wilma says he eats like an anorexic person – insisting that he is eating, but just picking at his food. I expect that will change as his throat clears up.

Patty came home this morning. Wilma and Gary will be heading off on Sunday (with a stop in to see friends in Hope on the way). We are all hoping for a short period of mending!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Blisters the size of coffee coasters"

Aaron reported that the blisters from John’s radiation treatments are now the size of coffee coasters. This means that they are taking up much of the attention as he recovers from his last chemo.

John reported that they are not particularly painful, however – just something that needs a lot of attention to avoid infection. He has been given a ‘kit’ of material from the hospital along with some elaborate instructions. It includes boiling water, giving the area a saltwater bath, soaking it in gauze, and covering it with a special bandage. Apparently a garter belt does the best job of holding it all in place. He says the blisters are not getting worse, so that’s a good sign.

The blistering is only on one side – below his shoulder, near his collarbone. The other side hasn’t blistered – it’s just “scabby and lumpy”. He doesn’t even have blisters in his throat so is thankful about that – and very upbeat about the ordeal being almost over.

As usual, yesterday and today are worse than the weekend (from the chemo). He has been able to eat his 2 eggs and porridge, however, along with some vegetable soup that Patty made for him before she left. He also discovered the joy of freshly made won ton soup from a local restaurant so he will be taking advantage of that over the next few days.

Wilma and Gary are with him and when I called yesterday Aaron had joined them for the evening. They were all engrossed watching Tremé episodes.