Throat Blog — The First Day of Forever

Ok, I just titled this entry like that because it sounds deep. In reality, as I told a friend a few days ago, the closer I get to surgery, the more I want to keep to shallow waters. There is a raging torrent just below the surface, and I am fighting to keep from dwelling there.

Throat Blog — What Insurance?

Well, I have insurance through work. But, they have not yet approved the surgery. So, assuming this is still the case, tomorrow, I’ll have to sign a waiver saying that I’ll take full responsibility for the bill. Yikes!

My office stepped up and contacted folks to get a  # for expedited approvals. Either way, I’m having the surgery. I just might go from ER to ICU to room to rehab to the poor house. I’m not that worried…we’ve just been moving faster than the speed of insurance bureaucracy the past few days. They’ll catch up.

Throat Blog — Would You Like Some Isotopes with Your Barium?

Well, I wasn’t actually given a choice about that, but I did get to pick between Berry Barium or Mochacino Barium. I opted for Berry. Meh. The isotope injection actually had more flavor (I could taste it about 5 seconds after it started going into my arm).

So, now I sit for 45 minutes waiting for them to put me in the donut. They had gotten me a scrip for Valium, so I assumed this would be one of those closed machine procedures that people get claustrophobic in. The donut machine is nothing. Plus, I drove myself and Valium takes about 6 hours to get down to a safe-to-drive level. So, I can save this one for later. 🙂

Next up, paper pants!

Throat Blog — Got some Time?

Well, I got the time, anyway. Go into prep around 10:30 AM. Surgery starts at 12:34 PM. Ok, so that sounds really overly precise at first glance. It is like saying 47.834% of all statistics are made up.

But, upon a little reflection, that should mean that they actually have a minute-by-minute plan of action (even if I don’t have that plan to see for myself). I can imagine it, though.

  • 10:30:00 AM: Remove Patient’s Shirt
  • 10:30:15 AM: Remove Patient’s Shoes and Socks
  • 10:30:30 AM: Remove Patient’s Pants
  • 10:31:00 AM: Remove Patient’s Underwear
  • 10:34:00 AM: Fully recover from previous step
  • 10:35:00 AM: Lay Patient on Gurney
  • 10:35:30 AM: Start IV Line
  • and so it goes…

Throat Blog — Last Day at Work for a While

Well, finishing up my last day at work before hospital fun starts. Still haven’t heard specific times for the surgery, so I plan on leaving early before my PET appointment so that I can stop by the surgeon’s office (assuming I haven’t made contact before then).

I seem to finally be at a loss for words. So, now you know what it takes. 🙂

Throat Blog — Where There Is a Will

So, no updates yesterday (Saturday) other than a couple of FaceBook posts.  Had a downer Friday afternoon and wasn’t too motivated for the kind of thought this post takes. The downer was writing out a will (which I hope isn’t needed for 50 years, but can’t leave things just floating if it is sooner). Not going to say who gets what, here. Not the time or place. Again: time 50 years from now and place Mars is what I’m shooting for.

But, even 50 years from now there are a few things about “final arrangements”  that I don’t see changing so might as well get it out there, now.  Can really sum it up in two words: Cremation and Celebration.

First word pretty much speaks for itself, I think. No need to have a place in dirt to come see me. If you remember me, you’ll remember me without all that.

Second word I’ll take a bit more time with. I do not need or want a religious service. Not because I don’t have beliefs (I do) but because I know we don’t all share the same beliefs. I believe there is more than one answer, and that answer is personal for each of us. So, if you need to seek solace with God, Jesus, Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, Shiva, or Vishnu please do that. But first (or after) come and celebrate with my friends and family.

I don’t know where that will be 50 years from now. There are no restaurants on Mars, yet. But if it is significantly sooner, that celebration will be at a restaurant I go to a lot, where I have made many good friends, and sat listening to music (or reading my Kindle book at the bar) many, many times. La Gondola in Mansfield. Take the day off. Come down for some good food. Music by David Paul and Doug Bullard (jointly or as individual soloists). No downer music…ok, maybe just one. Eat, drink, enjoy, and remember.

So, that’s out of the way. Last night I went to my two favorite downtown Fort Worth venues. Reata (no pictures, but had chicken fried quail with cheddar jalapeno grits and elk sausage). Finished most of it. Then on to Scat Jazz Lounge for some good jazz. Nice night. Probably my last time to have a chance to do that until next year, when I’m up and able to drive myself around.

Today I’m going to have coffee with a friend and lunch with a couple of others. No more of this maudlin crap. 

Note: I accidentally posted this under my sister’s account. I’ve made her an admin here so that she can update posts during/after surgery. Was showing her how to login to the system and left her logged in, I guess. It was really me (Paul), though, on this one.

Throat Blog — How Much Will It Cost?

Well, finally got a call from the hospital…but just about the upcoming costs (assuming my insurance pays and I have no idea why they would not pay). Pretty much the price of a small home freeze dryer. I’d used up a lot of my out-of-pocket expense cap leading up to this (2 CT scans, ultra sound, doctor’s visits, plus my annual physical and blood work back in January).

Still awaiting a road map, which is top of my mind and which is what most people ask me. How long will I be in the hospital? How long will I be in Rehab? How long before I can eat? How long before I can go home? How long before I can drive?

I know that many of those answers are the standard answer given by any good economist…”It depends.” (Most people don’t know that most of my elective  business degree courses were economics…Money and Banking, primarily…they think I’m some kind of engineer or lawyer or bohemian geek.) Some general ballpark idea would be nice, though.

Well, back to waiting for the next call.

Throat Blog — Where Will I Be?

The surgery is definitely set for Tuesday…I got confirmation, but am expecting more details today. For the surgery itself I will be at:

Zale Lipshy University Hospital Operating Room
5151 Harry Hines Blvd
Dallas TX 75390
 
Oh, and a text message exchange with my boss to share:
 
Him: I’m in my office. Can we talk?
Me: You are a cruel boss. You can talk…

Throat Blog — My Schedule

I haven’t gotten a call, yet, but went and looked at the patient portal. Since no call, this might be tentative.

Monday

PET Scan Inj Room: 3:30 pm. This is where they will inject me with the radioactive isotope.

Pet Scan: 4:30 pm. This is the scan itself.

Tuesday

Surgery (no time given).

Procedures: Laryngectomy, Tracheostomy, Radical Neck Dissection

Not much more to say (unless they call with a different time or date). Watch the blog for updates…I’ll give someone my admin info so that they can keep you updated.

Throat Blog — Visualizations

Ok, played with the CT scan data files at lunch and made a picture of my larynx cartilage in 3D. The image is rough-ish, as I don’t really know how to use the software all that well.

First, here is an illustration of the normal larynx.

Here is what I extracted from the CT scan data, just the front portion of the larynx and only the cartilage/bone shows. Soft tissue, skin, etc does not appear on this view.

From that you can see that the Hyoid bone is fine and the Cricoid cartilage is also fine (it looks rough because of my poor CT navigation skills). But, much of the Thyroid cartilage is missing. So, at the very least, the remaining Thyroid Cartilage needs to be removed and that area repaired. Whether more needs to be done depends on how nasty the tumor itself is and whether it has spread into any of the other cartilage.