Where I Have Been

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      We spent Wednesday evening at a hotel in Fort Wayne. My husband had oral surgery early Thursday morning to remove a carcinoma in his cheek, that also required a skin graft taken from below his belly button. It was supposed to be an out-patient surgery, from 7:30-9:30 a.m., (after a check-in time of 5:30 a.m.), from which he could go home after a few hours if he were feeling well enough. However, the anesthesia gave him severe nausea and triggered the vertigo he sometimes suffers. It became clear that he would need to stay the night--and don't get me started on how hospitals hate to give up a room for overnight stays. Even moving him from recovery, where he "boarded" for five hours (which means waiting for a room to become available), to a critical care room for two hours made him horribly ill, and the same happened when he was moved to a room two hours later. (The nurse did not understand, in spite of our telling her, that she needed to move the bed slowly.) I had to be assertive for him to get moved to a room, and I stayed with him overnight in his room, sleeping on a couch. (I knew that I could do so, because another lady in the surgical waiting area told me she had done so for her husband's past surgery and would be doing so this time as well.)

      He became stable enough to be discharged around noon yesterday, after which I drove us home, stopping to pick up the dog, who we had to board at our vet's practice for an extra day. Thankfully, they had room when I called on Thursday. We had never boarded her in the almost ten years we have had her, so she was ecstatic that she had not been abandoned.

      My husband is now in the healing process, which requires semi-liquid food while getting adequate protein. He is having oatmeal and soft scrambled eggs this morning. Last night, he had some applesauce that I defrosted. He cannot eat hot or cold foods; they must be room temperature. We are working out what he can eat while healing.

      I want to stress for everyone the importance of seeing your dentist twice a year. At his December appointment, the hygienist noted the spot and called the dentist, who sent him to a periodontist. Although the first biopsy was negative, the pathologist requested a second one that used a special solution that the periodontist had to order. That company sent the kit to who knows where (periodontic office never received it), so it had to be re-ordered. The second biopsy was positive for squamous cell carcinoma. (Each biopsy for oral cancer requires about two weeks for a result.) He was referred to an oral surgeon, who did an additional biopsy in the cheek area that was positive, which the oral surgeon told him upfront it would be. He then needed a lung x-ray and a full-body CT scan, which thankfully showed that the cancer had not spread anywhere else. With its removal, he should be fine, although he will need annual check-ups with the oral surgeon for five years. The oral surgeon had to extract a back tooth as well, since the filling and crown obscured the CT scan, and he wanted to be sure he got it all.

      My husband was not high-risk for oral cancer. He hates the taste of alcohol and thus does not drink it. He also never smoked, chewed tobacco, or vaped. He is in the small percentage of people who develop an oral cancer without clear risk factors. So, as I said at the start of this post, see your dentist and hygienist twice a year. A dentist and hygienist can uncover a medical issue that needs prompt attention, and it can save your life.

      And if you have adolescent children, a vaccination is available to prevent HPV, as that may be a factor. Most people carry the Human Papilloma Viruses (about 200!), and the body controls them in about 90% of cases. In the other 10%, it can lead to various cancers. The vaccination needs to be done before a person contracts the viruses. There is no preventative measure afterwards. So, get your teen vaccinated.

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        BA, I'm glad that's behind you now. Wishing your husband a full and speedy recovery.


          I hope your husband recovers quickly. This must have been very scary especially the nausea and vertigo.

          Mike Nolan

            All medical crises are stressing, even minor ones. Diane had what we think was a reaction to a stool softener the other day resulting in a blood sugar crash down to about 60 but with a quick rebound, fast enough that her CGM never sent an alert.

            But we didn't figure that out until later, we just knew she felt really weak and I could not get a good BP reading for several minutes. Laying down for an hour helped.

            I have a gum condition called lichen planus that my periodontist is watching but she doesn't think it is one that can become cancerous.

            I hope your husband's recovery is without further incident.


              Sorry to hear about your ordeal BA. Cancer in our friend's jaw was discovered by his dentist. He had to have his jaw removed and rebuilt. They never could get his teeth to work right. He is still going strong (but thin) 5 years later. Dental exams are important.


                Thank you all for your kind words. My husband is recovering, but as the nurse warned him, he is having more pain than he did initially, since inflammation comes into play after surgery. I was only able to pick up his pain medication today because due to an error somewhere, the prescription was sent to a city two hours away from us, and the pharmacy chain could not transfer it without the practitioner re-submitting it. Of course, it was a Saturday, so it has taken until today for me to be able to pick it up for him.

                I think he may need to stick with softer foods and not push it. I am trying to find special foods I can make for him that also are high in protein, which was one reason I made the Banana Chia Seed Pudding, which he did like, but it would have worked better at pudding consistency. He is not as cooperative in my efforts, probably because the recovery process is hard. I also need to make it foods for him that can be served at room temperature, neither hot nor cold. I'm thinking of trying a carrot soup that uses chicken broth for the base and some Greek yogurt. I usually season it with sweet curry, but he is not a curry fan. I might try a bit of dill.

                Mike Nolan

                  One of my wife's favorite comfort foods when she's not feeling good is baked custard, which has protein from eggs and milk.

                  They need to be kept in the fridge, but you can let them sit out for a bit to warm back up to room temperature.

                  Joan Simpson

                    Prayers for your husband BakerAunt and for you as I know how scary this can be.Glad his dentist was on top of it!


                      Thank you, Joan.

                      My husband had a check-up today. They decided to put him on antibiotics for a week.


                        I hope the antibiotic will help him to heal quickly.

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