A week ago, I began experiencing pain when I swallow, thanks to (I assume) the effects of the radiation treatments on my esophagus. The radiologist prescribed some drugs that I take in succession following each meal: first an ounce of aloe vera juice, followed twenty minutes later by a teaspoon of Nystatin, followed twenty minutes later by a carafate tablet dissolved in 10 cc of water, followed by nothing by mouth for twenty minutes. I noticed no noticeable change until day before yesterday, when the pain got worse. Yesterday, it was much worse. I couldn’t finish lunch because of the pain, opting to choke down a bottle of Ensure, instead. Ditto for dinner. The pain is present event without swallowing; it burns in my chest, the level of pain changing depending on my position. Last night, I didn’t sleep especially well because the pain kept awakening me and/or keeping me awake. As I type this, I’m taking a painful swallow of strawberry-flavored Ensure at a time for breakfast. No coffee, as the hot liquid hurts like the devil going down. Even the cold Ensure hurts with every swallow. Fortunately, today is the day for my weekly visit with the radiologist, so I hope he can offer options. Even swallowing water is hard and painful. This cannot go on for long or I’ll get dehydrated and starve. Thanks to my years of packing on excess weight, it will take far longer to starve than to become dehydrated.
Yesterday was my first phone call with the nurse navigator who was assigned to me to help me deal with cancer treatments. Despite the fact that the program kicked off more than half way through my treatments, perhaps the timing was good. I mentioned the swallowing issues and she said she would talk to the oncologist about them, though she advised me that the radiologist would be the first responder to that issue. She also said she would address the ongoing problem of schedules for my doctor visits, chemo treatments, and blood draws being shown on the portal calendar as “unscheduled.” We’ll see.
This business of pain in my chest while attempting to eat is bothersome. I guess I didn’t expect it, even though I knew it was one of the potential side-effects of radiation treatment. I hope today’s visit with the doctor gives me more than,”well, let’s see if this next options gives you any comfort.” I’m looking, of course, for certainty. I’m looking for results. I’m looking for things that probably are not guaranteed in the field of oncology treatment.