First of all, thank you to Celia for pointing out that I had put 18th August as start date for my radiotherapy - wrong!!! It's the 18th of July, so not long now.
Today I had to go to the Royal Marsden in Fulham for a dental check. The radiotherapy carries with it an increased risk of dental caries, so they like to check patients' teeth before the treatment starts, because if I had to have a tooth removed from my lower left jaw following radiotherapy, whether it's six months, six years or sixteen years after treatment, there's a risk of nasty infection which tends to develop in the jaw bone and which would mean taking a piece of bone from the leg to replace the infected jaw bone (this gets better and better, doesn't it?). The dentist today said that because my palsied cheek is resting on my lower left wisdom tooth, it would be difficult to keep it clean and she would be happier removing it. I said I would be happier keeping it and after a bit of discussion, she agreed that if I cleaned my teeth as well as I am doing now and stuck to a rigorous routine of check-ups every six months etc, she was hopeful that I would be okay. I think I can live with that - to be honest, as I explained to her, I have had so much intervention, poking and prodding in recent months and with more treatment ahead that if I could avoid this particular procedure, I would feel very relieved. In any case, I would have to have it removed either tomorrow afternoon or Friday morning, at both of which times I have appointments with other consultants.
She did say that I was keeping my teeth very clean, considering how patients with facial palsy normally present themselves, so that was a point in my favour and possibly a reason why she felt hopeful that I would be okay. If by any chance I do have to have that tooth removed in the future, it would be done under general anaesthetic and would be at the Marsden, so they would look after me - hopefully it won't come to that, though. I have been prescribed fluoride gel (not toothpaste but concentrated gel) which I have to use twice a day before, during and for six weeks after radiotherapy and then once a day for the rest of my life - or, as the instruction sheet puts it, FOR AS LONG AS I HAVE TEETH (yes, it is in block capitals!). I was also given a nice new (small head) toothbrush. I feel very special :-) It really is just as well that I have taken care of my teeth or I could be in a bit of a pickle now!
My appointment was at 10. 30 and I had expected to be done and dusted by 11 o'clock - wrong again! I finally got out of the hospital at 1.30, after going for x-rays, waiting to be seen by the dentist and then waiting for my script. Amazing how tiring it is hanging around hospital for three hours......
I travelled to London on my own, so another first for me - using public transport by myself for the first time. I arrived at our local station, bought my ticket after having a bit of a wry smile at the ticket seller who was getting so frustrated with his ticket machine that he indulged in that well-known remedy of percussive maintenance, and waited on the platform for the (inevitably delayed - this is Southern Rail, after all) train. Who should I see on the platform but our friend Sally and her daughter Emily, en route to London for a posh breakfast at the Wolsey - infinitely preferable to a dental check! I had company all the way to London Victoria but negotiated the underground on my own, which was the more daunting prospect as it was still very busy, being the tail end of rush hour and the start of tourist hours. I managed it fine, so hopefully that means that tomorrow will also be fine, when I have a more complicated journey to get to Charing Cross Hospital, which is nowhere near Charing Cross, unfortunately!
Our friend Jonathan came round to see us this evening and stayed for dinner. I felt comfortable enough to plug my electrodes in and do my forehead zapping while he was here - not sure he felt comfortable with it, but hey! I am in charge and I can always use the unanswerable line "I'm an ill woman and you have to be nice to me" <evil cackle>.
The kindness of friends continues to support and humble us. Celia called round tonight with more of her gorgeous home cooking for us, Elizabeth brought round some home-made ice cream last night (it will be invaluable when I have the inevitable sore throat during radiotherapy) and our neighbours gave us tickets for a performance at the National Theatre which they are unable to attend. We have quite a few visits scheduled for this week - my minister called round last night and I have visits from three separate groups of friends over the next two days. Between that and the hospital appointments it's a busy old week!! It's good to see people and I am looking forward to seeing my twin-separated-at-birth who is down visiting from the frozen North (aka Aberdeen) as well as Rock Chick. These people do all have real names, but I seem to have got into the habit of referring to them by various nicknames, such as Corinthian, Tickled Pink, Badly Drawn Bloke etc. I blame that Runners World website personally......
It's a busy old week for sure, but I feel positive, if tired. I do feel as if we are now gearing up for the next stage and that everything is falling into place. Bring it on!!