Malignant: The Rebellious Patient

Sez Who?

As I mentioned Friday, a cancer patient’s latest news can only be described as such for a tantalizingly short period of time. Five minutes, say, or the length of time it takes to want to jam icepicks in your ears because you’re being forced to listen to Donald Trump speak.

No, wait — that’s five seconds. Sorry.

Anyway, today’s latest news is my fresh sense of rebellion. IDK how long this’ll be the latest; all I know is I want to ask all my doctors (and there are scads of them at this point) to step outside. I’m not promising this tête à tête will come down to the throwing of hands but some pointed questions will be asked.

Here are a couple:

● Why aren’t we doing IMRT (Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy)? This is the cutting edge technology that more finely directs the radiation beams at tumors, as opposed to the old machine that throw a wide vector of rad. at the general area, leading to nasty side effects like a charred throat, the destruction of salivary glands and taste buds, etc.

● What about surgery? I realize this isn’t as simple as slicing out my olive pit and then I’d be able to prance off and hike the Pacific Trail the next day but no one has yet explained the risks/rewards of the big knife to me.

Up until a couple of days ago, I’d been throwing my lot in with whatever the latest doctor had to recommend. After all, I haven’t studied cancer my entire adult life, as these oncology specialists have. I’ve mentioned before I’m not terribly interested in taking the advice of some semi-stranger I’d just met in the Bloomingfoods checkout line. (OTOH, I don’t shop at B-foods but you know what I’m getting at.)

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Big Mike’s Almost-Daily Cancer Journal

Of late, though, I’ve been feeling feisty. As in, Hey you guys, I want a say in what’s going on around here.

I suppose one of the biggest pains in the culo for a big shot cancer doc is dealing with all the patients who’ve spent a few hours on the Internet and suddenly consider themselves experts in the field.

I also suppose this newfound spunk is common among cancer folk. The whole notion of getting cancer is so crushing to the receiver of the bad news, making her/him feel helpless and trapped, that it’s only logical we’d react, eventually, with a certain degree of orneriness.

That’s me now. Ornery.

As in Fuck you, cancer.

Secondary to that, natch, is the impulse to say to the bearer(s) of unpleasant communiques, Oh yeah — sez who?

Saying Sez who? doesn’t necessarily have to be a call to battle. I really want to consider all my options. Lucky for me Dr. Wu’s prescribed old-style radiation-plus-chemotherapy treatment isn’t going to begin for at least a few weeks. One reason for the delay is the dental work I’ll have to undergo beforehand. I saw Dr. Baker, the dentist, yesterday and other than a scant few bacteria dots and a couple of loose gum pockets, my choppers are in remarkably good shape. I do have one big molar that, apparently, is cracked, for which I’m now scheduled to see a Dr. Wittrig next week. Sheesh, yet another doc to keep track of.

Big Mike tip: Don’t catch cancer — it’s a pain in the ass.

BTW: Dr. Baker offered me a more detailed reason for yanking any teeth now, before radiation begins. It seems a month and a half of bombardment by the x-rays, gamma rays, electron beams, or protons — whichever machine Dr. Wu has in his garage — turns the bones of the jaw into something akin to styrofoam. The bone becomes alarmingly brittle and loses its capacity to heal. Wrenching out a bicuspid, therefore, becomes awfully risky.

Another thing — before Dr. Wittrig, the periodontist, starts moving heavy equipment into my mouth, I’ll have to get dosed with powerful antibiotics since I’m a heart patient. Any sneaky little germs that are loosed by her oral jackhammers and excavators can slink their way to my weakened heart and, well…, give me a free ticket for a boat ride down the River Styx.

Luckily, I see Dr. Behney tomorrow so I can get the prescription then. My initial reason to visit him is to start on some sort of thyroid therapy, seeing as that gland has been squished by my olive pit(s) and consequently isn’t brewing up enough thyroid juice for my body’s liking.

Sp let’s see, how many doctors have I mentioned today? Four, by my count. I haven’t even touched upon the medical oncologist, my two cardiology specialists and, if my guess is right, an oral surgeon.

Again, stay away from cancer — unless you really dig spending countless hours with doctors.

One thought on “Malignant: The Rebellious Patient

  1. Susan Jones says:

    Mike,
    You need to get one of those Cancer Advocates–although if I needed one, I think I would enlist YOU. Don’t ever stop pushing for all the answers you need. Love you, Susan

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