Road To Recovery

December 4, 2003

Hi, all!

I’m just back from a work-out session at the health club. I’m feeling much better … except for the muscle pain! It is amazing how out of shape you become from just a few weeks of inactivity. It is also amazing how fast one can heal after going through the kind of physical trauma I’ve seen.

Since there was almost no pain in my throat and my neck was only slightly tender to the touch from the outside, I went off the last of my drugs November 20 (pain & nausea). Then, I had a couple of rough days that I’m convinced (though the doctors aren’t) were some kind of withdrawal. Anyway, I started to feel better the day before Thanksgiving.

Sandy and I drove up to spend the holiday with my family in Catasauqua. It is at Thanksgiving dinner that I had my first food through my mouth that worked. I had mashed sweet potatoes, jellied cranberry sauce and the filling of pumpkin pie. Friday I had a little more and by Saturday I managed to eat all my food through my mouth. I haven’t looked back, not having used the feeding tube at all since then. My extra two cases of tube feeding formula went to a needy cancer patient.

To be sure, learning to eat again has been an interesting experience. My tongue is tender from repeatedly biting it and I had to be very careful early on not to get any food down my windpipe. My saliva production is way down, so dry foods must be washed down with water. And taste, though improving, is still bizarre. I barely taste sweet but salt is very strong. Creamy or greasy foods coat my tongue and block all taste, while watery foods and broths carry the tastes to my tongue very effectively. So, Won Ton soup tastes like it should while ice cream is just cold mush and chocolate chip cookies are tasteless. I suppose my dentist will approve.

We saw all my doctors early this week and they are all impressed with my progress. In order to survive cross country skiing, I had one of the health club trainers set up a training regimen for me. I have an upper body day with aerobic workout and a lower/middle body day with aerobic workout. I’ve needed to use a few ibuprofen to ease the muscle soreness. But, I’m convinced I’ll be in shape to ski reasonably by the first trip to Craftsbury, VT, over New Years.

The doctor set up appointments for CAT and PET scans for Dec. 15 with a review on the 17th. We’ll have a pretty good idea, then, about how well “the cure” worked. We’re all optimistic. I’ll write to you about the results as soon as we have them.

Meanwhile, I’m sure the rush to get ready for the holidays is ramping up for all of us. While you’re running around, please remember how much I appreciate all that you all have done for me through this ordeal. I continue to feel the effects of all your cards, good wishes and prayers. God bless you all!

Bill Stine