Things I Hate: A Semi-Annual List, by Jo

I figure I get a chance now and then to be po-mouthed, right? Considering how well things have gone, and how on the right side of all the statistics I've been, and (overall) how little screeching and yelling I've done about this, I can be grouchy. Right?


Well, I'm gonna be. So pish tosh if you don't like it, and go elsewhere. I hear Cute Overload is good today.

Things I Hate, the CAN-SUUUHHHH Edition:

1. Clindamycin.

That might be a weird thing to put on the top spot, when you consider the barrel of fun that CAN-SUH is, but let me tell you: as nice as Clindamycin might be as a post-op antibiotic, it is NOT nice to the rest of your biota. Everything else, if you know what I mean and I think you do, suffers disturbances in pH that will make you very sad indeed.

2. Sounding like Steve Urkel.

For about the first twenty hours after I got ObTurator 1.5, I sounded great. Then my throat continued to heal and the tissues shrank some more. Now I sound like Urkel with a mouthful of taffy. Luckily, I'll get this refitted tomorrow, and problem solved! For the next 48 hours.

3. Stretching my jaw.

This? Is no fun. I have this stack of tongue blades, remember, that are all rubber-banded together, and I have to use them to stretch my jaw open. The trouble is that it hurts, and more than that, there's no real *gain* from all the stupid stretching.

As Dr. DDS puts it, jaw muscles are "recalcitrant", so they tend to stiffen up within a half-hour or so as soon as you're not actively working on them.

Plus, I wonder: did the surgeon just cut one side of my jaw muscles loose? Can they *do* that? Someday, I would like to see what, exactly, they did to me. Meanwhile, ow ow ow ow.

4. Drooling and schnozzing.

When I take the obTurator out, what I call "schnozzing" tends to happen: if I lean my head forward even the tee-tiniest bit, saliva drips from my nostrils.

I know, right? HOT.

I can't wear the obturator all the time, because my throat and so on are still getting used to it, and I get sore. So I take it out, and I schnozz. Then I put it in, and because it's an extra something in my mouth and my lower lip is still numb in a spot, if I'm not careful, I drool. Then I get overly conscious of how it's fitting, and I take a drink of something, and for some reason it comes out my damn nostrils AGAIN, and right down the front of my shirt.

I'm not staying away from work because I'm stoned on pain meds or because I can't talk. I'm staying away because I haven't yet learned how to manage this mouth-half-plastic thing.

Speaking of which....

5. Going out in public.

I hate it. I look perfectly normal. There's nothing obvious wrong with me. The minute I open my mouth, though, and say something like "Gooh gahnnnngack! Mmmguh uh uh hrrk aaghmuh?" everybody knows Something Is Up. I either get weird looks, or Oh, The Poor Dear, Isn't She Brave looks, or people asking questions.

That last is not so bad, but...(and this is not something they'll tell you pre-op) talking with one of these things in is hard. You get very tired very quickly, and your speech quality goes to shit, because you're having to use all these healing muscles in new ways. Friend Rob asked the other day what it was like to have my nose so involved in my speech, and he has a point: the front of my face gets exhausted within about five minutes of starting to talk.

6. Trying to eat.

Practically impossible. I've pureed everything that can be pureed, and I've even pureed a few things it probably wasn't advisable to, and I'm tired of it. Tonight's dinner, which was supposed to be pureed spinach and artichoke hearts with cheese on top of a baked potato, went back in the fridge, untasted.

Eating, like speaking, is exhausting. Nothing tastes very good, and given that parts of my mouth are still numb, it's hard to tell if I'm pocketing food or not. Eating out in public is weeks away at best, because I certainly don't want to be in a restaurant and suddenly have whatever I'm eating exit through my nostrils.

Plus, chewing and swallowing hurts. I would kill to be able to eat a salad, a potato chip, anything crunchy. As things heal, my teeth begin to feel misaligned, and biting is really tough.

7. The next ten years.

Of all the things I've dealt with and all the stuff I've left to face--the possibility of a recurrance, the possibility of radiation (won't know about that until Teh Itty-Bitty Tumah Committee meets this wekk), the fact that an obturator is now a permanent part of my life (Dr. Crane says reconstruction is a no-go; they had to take too much), this is what scares me the most.

Like, how the hell do I explain to people who didn't know me before why I have a big plastic plate in my mouth?

This is not something that you necessarily want to bring up on a first date, but it *is* something that's going to have to be addressed at some point (if I ever date again, which I might not, given the Epic Drought that's been goin' on). I've had cancer, I have a scary plastic part. I talk funny. I have to take this thing out and soak it in a glass of water at night, and irrigate the inside of my head: Sexy!

Also, what to say to people who I don't know very well now, but will eventually hang out with a lot more? Should I get a script down? I ask not only for my own comfort, but for theirs: I don't think they'd appreciate it if I responded to "Oh, you're so brave!" with a poke in the kisser.

And what the hell do I do if it *does* come back? I was reading some message board somewhere, and somebody about my age had the same diagnosis, and went two years disease free, and then boop! It popped up again. I left the computer, took out my obturator, and vomited very calmly for a few minutes. I cannot deal with that possibility yet.

Should I get one of those Medic-Alert bracelets that says I have an obturator? I'm being serious.

When will I feel like myself again? Will I ever? I'm in cancer limbo at the moment, unsure if there'll be any further treatment plans or anything else to do. Cancer Limbo might stick around until I get a five-year all-clear, or a ten-year. I just don't know at this point.

And that, friends, is where I stop with the po-mouthedness. I mean, to look at this logically, I have come up on the good end of all the statistics I've run across so far. With any--hell, with MY--luck, shaving my head prophylactically will turn out to be nothing more than a waste of good hair.