Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Throat Issue

I was talking to a friend yesterday and he asked if Tyler would be able to swallow a milkshake or similar item. This has actually been a frequent suggestion from friends and loved ones, so I thought I should address it. If Tyler could swallow something of a milkshake quality, we could keep him adequately fed at home. Even before his throat pain, I was the queen of smoothies and I've only gotten better at making nutritious (and calorie filled) smoothies.

The trouble with that is that Tyler is not eating or drinking ANYTHING. Anytime he swallows something, even his own saliva, he has a sharp pain in his throat. He rates his non-swallowing pain as a 3 (on a scale of 1 to 10). When he swallows, the pain typically jumps up to the 5 to 7 range. Consequently he stopped swallowing anything, except the few medicines that he has to get down, at the end of October. Think of how many times per day you swallow the saliva that has formed in your mouth. Tyler spits it out, rather than suffer through the pain of swallowing.

The few times he has attempted to swallow medications or the chicken broth he tried yesterday, he loads up on the pain medication and still suffers as he swallows. Nothing completely removes the ouch.

An added complication is that, with the exception of the week between radiation and the start of the chemo where he was starting to feel better, Tyler has not eaten anything in about a month and a half. He had some soup and canned peaches and ice cream during that one week where he was starting to eat, but that isn't much for your stomach to process. So, in addition to the throat pain, he has to deal with the fact that his stomach is likely to rebel against anything he eats because it isn't used to receiving input.

It's a tough process and very discouraging for him. We continue to hope that his neutrophil count will pick up and he will start to feel better. We've got big plans for the next few weeks -- a Christmas Dinner with friends this week and a wedding for a family member next week -- that we would like to participate in if we can get out of the hospital and start building up strength again.

That's just a little peek into the side effects that Tyler faces and the reason that we are still stuck at UWMC.

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