Friday, July 20, 2018

DAY 015 -- "This Tall, Silly"

A new medication today to treat my latest Rad Chemo’s entertaining new side effect: it’s an oral solution I can “swish, spit or swallow as needed.” In the bedside biz, it’s called “magic mouthwash.”

The side effect is this persistent sore throat that has moved in like a bum uncle on the couch. It was predicted. As we progress and the radiation works on the tumor, it also disrupts my surrounding structures, and because of the proximity, settles in my throat. It will eventually pass when I come to the end of treatment, but for now, it’s a bugger.

First, I used the solution wrong, even though the label’s directions allowed it. “Swishing” this liquid did a quick and strong job of easing my achy throat long enough to allow painless swallows through mealtimes, but it also worked very well, thanks to my wrongly using the “swish” option, in delivering a numb-tingling to the wrong characters:

Like a pre-extraction anesthetic at the dentist relieving gum pain, it also drags your lips and tongue into the fight and knocks them out, too.

Today, this all reminded me of the six-year old boy in clinic who once told me: “I’ve got a headache in my stomach.”

Made perfect sense to me, and his description helped the doc get right to the boy’s ailment, and combining this with other diagnostics, to treat him with the right applications. If the boy had said that his pain was a stomach ache in his head, well, that would’ve changed everything.

You get the idea. As patients, we can best help ourselves and our caregivers if we’re as descriptive as possible, using lively images and clear language when describing pain. A “dull push” is not the same as a “throbbing stab.” Or, a “heavy wringing” is entirely different from a “deep stiffness,” and being specific truly does help the practitioner to accurately diagnose and treat.

That’s the crux of medicine. Ruling things out. The paths to finding healings and cures always begin with determining what the affliction isn't, enroute to finding out what it is. And, because no two of us have all identical everythings, one size never fits all. In medicine, each one of us is a cosmic fingerprint.

That’s the art side of science, and enough metaphor abuse for now.

So, I got a liquid syringe and targeted the dose to my throat directly, bypassing my innocent buccal bystanders.

Tomorrow, I’m continuing my quest for simplicity in the way forward. A good way is to return to the wisdom of floating organ boy. Children have a knack of teaching us when we least expect it.

I also asked him if he knew how tall he was. Placing his palm flat on top of his head, he looked at me puzzled, but answered perfectly:

“This tall, silly.”

More as we go, El

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