The Preliminaries Part 2. Meet PEGgy...
This week I had three final activities, before chemoradiation starts tomorrow (16th March).
It started off on Tuesday to see how well my kidneys are functioning, because the kidneys are key in removing waste products linked to the chemotherapy. Technical term: Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR)! So on the evening before the tests, I was not allowed to drink any caffeine 😱. Then at Barts, I was injected with a radioactive substance, but which had a short half-life of only 6 hours, so it is cleared from the body quickly. Blood samples were then taken at 2h, 3h, and 4h after the injection to see how efficiently the kidneys were at removing the compound.
On Wednesday I had a 90 minute appointment with a speech therapist, where we went through again some of the side effects of the concurrent chemoradiation therapy, and the head and neck exercises I should do every day, 5 times a day, to ensure that I'm able to eat and swallow food as normally as possible for as long as possible. Think this is easy? Try the Masako exercise - it's harder than it sounds, but has great benefit for people with pharyngeal cancer. Here's a cool Prezi I found on the pros and cons of this techniques with associated references.
The week's "highlight" however was undoubtedly having a balloon-button gastrostomy tube (G-tube) fitted. [Note: full disclosure - I thought this was a gastronomy tube for the past two weeks 🤦🏼♂️.] This is essentially a precautionary measure for when the time comes that, even with all my daily head and neck exercises, the radiation burns inside my throat will make eating an almost impossibility.
After a night of nil-by-mouth, a PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) tube was fitted endoscopically using a scope into the stomach to create the stoma from the inside. I had lots of local anaesthetic on my belly and enough sedation so that I didn't care about being operated on!!
I won't lie - post-surgery it is bloody sore, and being nil-by-mouth for over 40 hours was a nightmare. But I managed the 2km walk/crawl home the next day, and David made home-made rice pudding 😋, so, you know, ups and downs. As you will see from this blog, I'm forming in my head a goal to walk at least 1 mile every day during periods when treatments are toughest! But more on fitness regime during cancer in a future post.