The thing about battling an opponent like cancer is that, occasionally, the bad guy lands a punch or two.
And, sometimes, the villain forms a tag team with other nasties, just to make you feel worse than usual.
This happened yesterday when my stomach peg began to cause me problems. It was oozing pus and bleeding heavily. I took a picture for this blog but, believe me, you don’t want to see it.
So, another trip to the doctor was required, where I discovered that the entry ‘wound’ was now infected. One thick dressing and a course of antibiotics later, and I was good to go.
Or so I thought.
This morning was the third attempt to remove one of my teeth prior to my treatment starting. Apparently, any tooth that looks as though it may be weak or unhealthy could cause major issues under the strain of radiotherapy – so they have to be pulled.
I had one such tooth – Upper 6 was its name. I’d had root canal surgery performed on it back in the 1990s, but it didn’t look as though it was strong enough to survive the attack of the x-rays.
I’d had two previous appointments to try to get this tooth out, but they’d both had to be postponed due to me being in too much pain. Today, I wasn’t in too much pain.
Well, to begin with…
I turned up at the Day Surgery unit at Blackburn Hospital at 7.30am, as requested. From there, along with seven or so other men, we were taken to our ward and issued a bed.
I was asked to change into a gown – and to wear a pair of tight surgical stockings.
From there, I was taken into an operating theatre and laid on the operating table beneath the operating lights and beside operating machinery and trays of operating tools.
For a tooth.
Once I was hooked up to the machinery (the operating machinery, that is), the surgeons came in and explained that the tooth would be taken out under local anaesthetic.
Then, a mask was placed over my eyes.
I figured this was for one of two reasons…
- it was to protect my eyes from the bright lights of the operating theatre.
- it would give the hospital staff the opportunity to sneak out and be replaced by the late, great Jeremy Beadle and his gang of wacky chums from ‘Game for a Laugh’.
“We made you think you had cancer but instead, it’s all a prank! Here’s Henry Kelly to explain how we got the tumour into your throat in the first place…”
Sadly, it was to protect my eyes.
And, so it all began…
Several rather painful injections later, my mouth and gums were numb, and the surgeons began to work. They explained that I would be able to feel quite a bit of pressure as they worked at the tooth – because, if there was one thing they didn’t want to happen, it was-
I actually jumped at the noise.
“What the hell was that?” I demanded, thinking that one of the operating lights had fallen from the operating ceiling.
But no, the sound had come from inside my own mouth.
It was my tooth.
It had shattered into dozens of pieces.
This was exactly what they didn’t want to happen. Now, things were complicated. Really complicated.
“I’ll need a blade, now,” sighed one of the surgeons.
He sounded so disappointed that I almost apologised.
For the next thirty minutes, the surgeons cut into my gums and then pulled, broke, drilled and gouged the remaining slivers of tooth from its formerly happy home.
Finally, it was done. The tooth was out.
Then, one surgeon said to the other…
“Can you see that?”
Beneath the gauze, my eyes grew wide.
What was it? What they could see?
I asked, through my wooden, lifeless lips.
“Oh, we can see the end of your left sinus through the hole.”
Good job I was lying down.
“We can stitch your gum across to cover it up but, whatever you do, you mustn’t blow your nose for the next two to three weeks.”
“If you blow your nose, it will increase the pressure on your sinus, and we’ll have to operate again to relieve that.”
I made a mental note to destroy anything resembling a tissue as soon as I got home.
An hour or so later, I was discharged – by which time, the anaesthetic was beginning to wear off.
Plus, all the pushing and shoving around in my mouth had agitated the cancery bits.
And the surgeons had inadvertently been resting their operating tools on my stomach during the procedure. Right on my infected stomach peg.
I’m back home now, and I’m going for a lie down.
I may get up again some time in July…