Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 119 - moving Tommie in and mucositis

Today was most notable for it being Tommie's moving day! She had help from the Hansen clan, her friends, Dan and Cindy, and Eva's son, David, besides me, Terry and Ellie. It was quite a crew, but her apartment held us all beautifully--a good omen for parties in the future. Everyone except for me moved stuff off the truck, into the elevator and into her apartment. My job as the wimpiest of the wimpy was to keep Kita, the troublesome terrier, out of trouble. It was perfect for me because first we went for a walk around the drainage pond and then we sat in the apartment and looked out the window, talked to everyone as they brought stuff in and whimpered for Tommie. (I didn't do much whimpering.) The walk was probably about 0.75 miles, perfect for me, nowhere near long enough for Kita. It is very nice to have Tommie in town. We cannot quite see each other's roofs from our houses, but almost. It is about five blocks, door to door. I have alluded to that Tommie lives in an apartment complex right on the river, across the river from downtown Exeter. Her apartment faces the river and is beautiful. It is called the Mills and is a rehabbed mill building with two story high ceilings and windows (five of them), two loft bedrooms and tons of storage.

Otherwise today I wove a bit (almost done with the sampler for Ellie's blanket) and napped a bit. The dog is starting to take liberties and is thinking that perhaps I would like her to nap with me in my bed (wrong!). She usually stays down on the first two floors, venturing up to the third only if she really needs something or is invited. She has started coming up recently without an invitation. This will need to be stopped. If only I were a nice dog owner and would let my dog sleep with me... (I've been down that road and ended up needing a bigger bed--not doing that again.)

Additionally, there is a really good CPC in this week's NEJM (10/11/12)--I'd recommend it to any medical type. The main articles are about sugar sweetened beverages and their conclusions are basically that it matters to people's weight if they habitually drink sugar sweetened beverages or non-caloric beverages. Not really a big surprise there.

The other thing I've been meaning to talk about for a long time and haven't is mucositis (mucous-itis), the really annoying inflammation of the mucous membranes that happens to people without many white blood cells. What happened to me in my last hospitalization is that I got mucositis, got a break in the mucous membrane on my tongue and the bacteria that lives in my mouth got into my bloodstream and wreaked havoc for a few days. The interesting thing about mucositis is that most people just say that you get it, it happens randomly, but I'm actually not sure.

I think mucositis is analogous to osteonecrosis of the jaw. You may have heard of osteonecrosis; it's what can happen (does happen very rarely) to people who use bisphosphonates. The idea with osteonecrosis is that the mouth is a very special environment with a lot of micro-trauma happening to the jaws due to chewing, things poking into the mucous membrane, etc. The bisphosphonate keeps the injury from healing and one develops osteonecrosis. Here's how I think it works for mucositis. Again, the mouth is a very special environment with a lot of micro trauma to the mucous membrane (dorito chip corners poking into it and scratching, bits of rice hull getting stuck under the gumline, lots of tiny burns from tea, pizza cheese, etc.). What happened in my case was a little bit of vegetable matter of some sort got stuck under the gumline on the inside of one of my teeth and became a locus for infection. When I slept that night, where my tongue touched up against the infected gum became infected too and by the time I woke up in the morning, it was too late to stop it even with extra brushing and Listerine. Added to the bad luck was that some of the bacteria in my mouth had become resistant to the antibiotic that I was taking. Drat! So, my theory is the mucositis is actually started not randomly but by microtrauma to the mucous membrane. My hope is that if I am more vigilant, I can prevent another episode of mucositis and the neutropenic fever that went with it.

The other thing I am thinking about a lot is that I am starting to feel really pretty good again and that means it's getting to be time for chemo. It's really pretty lousy that us cancer folks get to feeling pretty good then have to drag ourselves back in to clinic for chemo. We feel much better with the cancer than with the treatment. Especially since I can't see my cancer or point to a lump that is receeding in size or even look at an xray, it feels like gratuitous torture I'm signing myself up for in nine days. I understand intellectually, but feel internally like those cartoon characters that dig their fingernails into the doorframes as someone drags them out by their feet.

For me, I'm hoping for the grace to get myself to Lebanon in nine days. For you, I hope for the grace to do whatever the next right thing is in your life.

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