Nope, it’s not over. I can’t quit yet.
You can stop reading, but I can’t quit writing the blog. This cancer experience is ongoing. Now that I am turning the blog into a book for new throat cancer patients to read, I am obligated to capture the full experience. And, it did not end with me going on my cat ski trip and celebrating my victory. I am still dealing with cancer related issues.
It was going to be so perfect, wrapping up the story with a successful cat ski trip to book end my one year cancer journey that had begun right after the same trip a year ago. Apparently real life is messy. It does not work in tidy patterns like it does in books.
Now I have at least three new blogs to write since I decided to stop writing. I don’t mind the writing, in fact I enjoy it, but don’t really have time. I have way too many other things on the go.
I told you I sold my business, and I did, and I am happy, but it’s a complicated sale and I still have work to do before I get all our proceeds from the sale. A chunk of the money is tied up in the receivables for two big projects that I have to collect the final payments on. So, I feel like I should be working on them not, not writing blogs.
And PlayWorks is planning a ‘retirement / beat cancer’ party for me in early May. I need to give them my list of people to send invitations to. That is no small matter, searching names and compiling that list, complete with emails, for all the people I would want to see there.
My family, friends, staff at PlayWorks and my friends and associates in the playground business. There are a lot of industry people I would like to see again before I drift off into retirement: suppliers, contractors, and even some competitors. And then there my favourite former playground committee customers, landscape architects and a whack of parks department employees. I have been doing this for over 35 years. That is a long time and a lot of people.
What about the readers of this cancer blog? You should come too. If you are reading this, consider yourself invited. Details to in the next blog. You will need to RSVP.
It’s a good thing I don’t have current email addresses for lots of the people I want to invite and that so many of them are not in Edmonton. Otherwise the party could be way too big. Another good problem to have.
Linda and I are also elbow deep in doing retirement planning, getting our finances in order, making travel plans, figuring out where to live, considering volunteer work, mapping out our future. In some ways, we feel like twenty-somethings again; trying to figure out what to do for the rest of our lives.
We are also in the process of selling the rental duplex we own. These are the kind of problems we feel blessed to have, but they add to that feeling of, “Hey, shouldn’t I have time on my hands. I am supposed to be retired”
I am also busy trying to turn this blog turned into a book. I have finally chosen a self publishing company to work with. Now I need to get the blogs edited so they are good enough to publish. I have had readers helping me and I just found an on-line editing program that I can use but it is still taking a lot of time. So, I don’t really want any more blogs for the book. Not the blogs, or the lived experience that they have to cover.
I am a busy guy and the Oilers are on a roll, Donald Trump is dropping bombs, and there are so many shows to watch on TV. I don’t have time for cancer recovery.
But the recovery is not over. I have had three appointments with the health care community in the last couple of weeks that have made that point very clear.
The first was a trip to my dentist’s office that unnerved me. I went in for my regular cleaning. As I have said before, radiation to the throat area affects the teeth so I have to take extra special care of them. Well it turns out I have not really taken that message to heart.
Yes, I feel like I have been brushing more frequently and more carefully, but, apparently, I have not been doing enough. After the cleaning, my dental hygienist said that she is already seeing signs of the enamel breaking down. This is not good. The hygienist was concerned.
She wanted to know if I was using the fluoride trays that were given to me. Of course, I said “yes”, but had to admit that I had only started to use them recently since they used to aggravate my mouth sores, that have now gone away. I am supposed to do a fluoride treatment every night. Fill these trays that are like hockey player’s mouth guards with fluoride and put them in my mouth for five minutes. I also had to admit that I missed a lot of nights because I am just not in the habit of doing it. I don’t make good habits easily. Ask Linda.
Apparently, this treatment is meant to protect my tooth enamel and so far, the evidence is that the enamel needs protecting. Just like I was told eight months ago, when they gave me these trays.
We then discussed what could happen in the long run. I am now much more afraid of the prospect of major teeth decay and losing my teeth. I am now afraid this can happen faster than I previously thought. Remember, I intend to live another 30 years. Apparently, I will be outliving my teeth.
She also showed me how to use an electric toothbrush properly. Linda bought one for me recently because it works so much more effectively than a regular toothbrush. I did not like using it, so I didn’t. You can bet I do now. I also do my fluoride treatment every night. Now every night I wonder how much damage I have already done to my teeth by having not done this regularly since I started the radiation treatments.
The second meeting was with a psychologist. She hit me over the head with something that should have been obvious. I may be over the physical part of cancer recovery but the psychological recovery can take much longer. It may also be even harder to deal with. No wonder I am not feeling happy even though I thought my cancer recovery was almost over. Good thing I went to see someone for help.
Cancer is major life event. So is retirement. Any one major life event is hard enough to deal on its own. Linda and I are coping with two that compound the effects. There is complex stuff we have to deal with.
The third meeting was with a speech therapist at the hospital where I went yesterday for follow up testing on my speech and my swallowing. I learned a lot about what my new normal is going to be like. Some parts of it are going to be hard to swallow. (Pun intended.) Believe it or not, I will need a full blog to explain what I discovered and what the potential impacts are going to be.
Just like with the fluoride trays, it turns out I am going to always wonder if my swallowing would be better if I had done my swallowing exercises regularly. Again, I have excuses, mostly it was the pain, but for the most part I could have done them and really should have.
I had been starting to think I was almost over this thing, but I should have known better. The drama of cancer discovery, radiation and chemo treatments are over, but the after effects just seem to keep going on and on.