WARNING! Somewhat disgusting photos below.
So I started a video diary, to document my healing and the effects of the surgery on my speech, and maybe to provide helpful insights to people facing similar situations. Part one is here, part two is here, and part three - which gets a bit disgusting, since it documents my oral thrush - is here. I plan to keep it up, since it may have some interest value, and it gives me an excuse to practice my speech, and something to look back on, in lieu of a memory, should I ever have to face all of this again.
About oral thrush: it's some sort of common fungal problem that can rise up after all the beneficial bacteria in your mouth have been killed. You feel like your mouth is full of froth; it starts to hurt a bit; and you end up with gross little white growths on your tongue. Despite it being predictable, it appears - in my case, anyhow - not to have been avoidable, because I had oral thrush the first time I had cancer surgery, as well, and I did ask my oncologist, before they put me under, if there might be some preventative measure we could take to ward it off this time. He prescribed me an antifungal, and I have been taking it, but nonetheless, when I arrived at the Emergency Ward tonight, this is what my tongue looked like:
That wasn't something I figured out about until AFTER I decided to go to the ER, mind you. My main concern was dehydration. It was getting increasingly difficult to swallow, which meant I'd had very little to drink; it was equally unpleasant to know I was mixing any of the liquids I drank with the frothy thrush-saliva foaming in my mouth, though I didn't clue in what it was at the time. And swallowing is even tougher when it comes to pill-form painkillers: I spent most of today wondering if a hydromorphone pill was lodged in the back of my throat without my having the muscle strength in my tongue to work it out. I thought ahead and wrote out a long note for the ER staff, which Erika printed out before driving me: Could I get some hydration? Could I possibly get some IV pain meds while I was at it? Could they look at my achey left ear and see if it seems infected or inflamed? Could he give me something for my oral thrush? And was there any way I could get pain meds in a suppository form?
Apparently there is - there is an ass-friendly version of Voltaren - but it is an NSAID, and I don't do so well with those. So nix on the suppositories, but everything else went exactly as planned: I got a full bag of IV fluids, got a scrip for the thrush and I even got to chat with the ER doctor about his ties to Powell River, where Erika and I just went last spring. There were entertaining fellow-patients in the Walking Wounded area, too: a guy who'd gotten a tooth knocked loose in a hockey game when the puck hit him in the face, and a little kid crying about having to get stitches, with a bunch of nurses and doctors going "Ooh, you'll be okay, it's just a little stitch and it will make you all better". As they hydrated me, I lay back and listened and felt a shimmer of relief coursing through me. ("Could you throw in some pain meds, while I'm hooked up, anyhow?" And they did!).
I believe the scrip that the doc gave me for the oral thrush, btw, is called Nystatin, but the pharmacies are closed. I've been encouraged to rinse with apple cider vinegar, which does seem to improve matters. Between that and the opioids I actually feel a bit nauseated, but I feel better than I did earlier, by a mile.
Here's the really gross thing. I have felt there was some sort of gooey mucusy clotty substance up my left nostril - where I think the tube had gone in, after intubating me down the throat didn't work. Normally I've been taking steambaths, or their home equivalent - sitting in the bath with the shower pelting my head - to loosen up the snotclots, but there's only so much that's come up. But without even so much as a shower, when I got into the bathroom tonight, I gave a blow out the left and THIS monster flipped out into my hand.
No fault if you don't want to see.
You've been warned:
...Sorry, it's disgusting (but it was definitely impressive and a release to get it out of my nose!).
Anyhow, Erika is in bed. I'm going to sit up a bit - have a bit of mild nausea from the opioids that I'm hoping I can distract with a bit of reading. Not sure if I should try to eat something or not - really don't want to.
In fact, tonight was actually one of my more successful ER experiences. Everyone was friendly; there was no long wait; and I got almost everything I'd hoped for. I got none of that pain med mistrust that you sometimes see, where they think you're an addict as soon as you ask ("Sure you have kidney stones, haven't heard that before.") And as disgusting as that snotclot is above, at least it's OUT OF ME now. Breathing much better. Whew.