Today

It’s 5am on Monday 18th April – and I’ve barely slept yet again.

Only, this time, it hasn’t been due to pain.

Later today, I have my first radiotherapy session at the Royal Preston Hospital.  The first of 30 such sessions which, combined with what I’ve decided to call Chemo Wednesdays, will attempt to annihilate my cancer.

Which is nice.

However, this treatment is likely also to rob me – albeit temporarily – of the ability to talk, swallow or eat.

Which isn’t quite so nice.

To say I’m nervous would be something of an understatement.

Don’t get me wrong.  I know I have to go through this in order to get well.  It’s just that I’m going to get a lot worse before that happens – and that’s the part that’s scaring me.

The doctors and nurses have warned that I will need speech therapy once my treatment is over.  I’ll also need to be taught how to swallow again.

They’ve said that I may emerge with different tastes, as my tastebuds are going to be completely burned away, and may not regrow the same.

I really hope I still like cheese!

Cheese!

I’ve also been warned that I may have a different voice when all this is over!  This is down to the damage and self-repair my throat will have to endure.

A different voice!  I can’t get my head around that at all.

My neck is going to burn and blister – both on the inside and the outside.  I won;t be able to shave for six weeks or more, and I’ll have to regularly apply cream to the affected area (albeit only on the outside).

I may have to start feeding through the tube – or peg – which has been fitted into my stomach.  I have several boxes full of nutrient rich milkshakes ready and waiting to be poured directly into my stomach.

This one actually doesn’t bother me as much.  Since I had the peg fitted, I’ve had to flush it everyday by pouring sterilised water down the tube (with Kirsty’s help – it’s practically impossible to do it by myself).  This hasn’t been as horrifying as I first thought it might be, and is actually becoming rather routine.

I wonder if the rest of the treatment will eventually feel just as ordinary?

The part I’m really not looking forward to is the destruction of my salivary glands.  I won’t be able to produce saliva at all and this, I’ve been told by many people, including several people who have undergone the same treatment, will result in my mouth and throat being coated with thick, stringy goo.

I physically shudder every time I think about it.

In a passing comment, one of my nurses mentioned the possibility of using artificial saliva!  I can’t think of a more disgusting product to try to force down my throat!  I feel squeamish about it already.

So, I’m sitting up thinking and worrying – again.

Kirsty said that if that happens, I’m to wake her up and talk about it – but I can’t do that to her.  There’s no point in two of us getting little to no sleep, especially when we’ve got the boys to look after.

Thankfully, they’re still on their school holiday, so I get to have my first week of treatment sessions without having to worry about getting them to and from school and college.

5am.  In 12 hours, the first session will be over.  I will have been pinned to a table by my mask and bombarded with deadly x-rays for 15 minutes (yes, just 15 minutes – the one bit of good news in all this).

Then I have to do it all over again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.  For six long weeks.

Oh shit.

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10 Comments


  1. It’s a terrible experience you’re going through Tommy, you will be in my thoughts today as always. Cling to the thought that you are doing all this so you can stay with your lovely family. Sending hugs, sympathy and support your way xxx

    Reply

  2. You can do this Tommy. I know today is intimidating. I hope it goes well and you are as comfortable as possible while you set to battle. Much love Tommy. Xx

    Reply

  3. We’re listening Tommy, and thinking of you , probably too many virtual hands for you to hold them all – your Kirsty sounds awesome. Good luck today, just the next advance agaisnt the beast you’re going to slay x

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  4. I’m thinking of you today Tommy. You can get through this!

    Reply

  5. We’re all right there with you, Tommy!

    But, you know, safely behind a lead shield.

    Reply

  6. Will be thinking of you this afternoon. I had 6 weeks of radiotherapy. I hope you can get a lift everyday instead of waiting for hospital transport, as that can be exhausting. And you’re right artificial saliva is disgusting…need it but don’t use it.
    Virtual hugs.

    Reply

  7. Hi Tommy,

    I might be a bit weird but I was curious about the artificial saliva my mum had when she was poorly, and I tried it. It was in a little bottle and you sprayed it into your mouth.
    There were two flavours – mint and lemon. I liked the minty one. It wasn’t like you imagine – just pleasantly cool, like a mild mouth wash. Quite refreshing and pleasant. And it is artificial. They don’t use farmed lambs’ saliva, I admit that wouldn’t be very appealing!

    Been thinking of you today and wishing you well. You’re one down 29 to go. Keep counting them down. You’ll be there before you know it. And you’ve an army of supporters right behind you.

    Reply

  8. I am struck by how you and the wonderful Kirsty have already turned dealing with the peg into the mundane and copable-with. You are a strong team – and I believe you can trust that will continue.
    Love and prayers to you both

    Reply

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