WARNING: Gross pictures included
Many of you have heard my stories about radiation and others actually watched it happen, but what you may not have seen unless you work with me or live with me is all the disgusting things that happened to my body, in my mouth, and just in general over the course of my 6 weeks of treatment and healing up. So for fun, of course, I thought I would (over) share and tell you about some of those gross things and include some pictures of course. Here goes…
1) Nose bleeds
Around week 3, I had a nasty cold on top of being most emotional crazy mess I’ve probably ever been in my life, so that meant I was using A LOT of tissues. At some point during that time my nose starting bleeding at any and every nose blow, which created quite the situation given the circumstances. It also meant I was left with a two options: blow my nose less or stop crying so much. I’ll let you try and decide which one I ended up going with…
Thankfully the nose bleeds stopped once my cold cleared up and my emotions stopped owning me, and we no longer had to worry about me bleeding out every time I cried. Jk. It always stopped bleeding pretty quick, but that didn’t help me not freak out every time it happened. To spare you of blood, the pile of tissues (or snot balls as my father so lovingly calls them) from a meltdown gets shared instead. It. Was. Atrocious. And embarrassing.
2) Washing sheets/changing pillowcases
Each night that I went to bed from about week 4 on, I had to slather my cheek, chin, and neck with Glucan cream. At that time, my skin was just starting to turn pink which meant the radiation was starting to affect the more superficial layers of my skin. As mentioned before, the Glucan is designed to help slough off any dead skin that had formed on the surface so as you can imagine, I woke up with an interesting assortment of things on my neck (see next point). But because I couldnt cover the cream with anything, sleeping became super strategic meaning I had to try to stay on my right side or my back all night. I sleep like a 4 year old and flop all over the place and generally prefer my left side so I cant say I was particularly successful.
So to add to the journey, I woke up most mornings in a weird pile of unknown goo, Glucan, and a little bit of blood from the places that had already gotten raw enough to bleed easily. And because that’s gross, we ended up washing our sheets and changing pillowcases daily. Anyone else think changing sheets is one of the more annoying chores? Cool. Me too. Thanks, Goneda!
3) Maggot skin
So to my previous point, Glucan sitting on radiated skin for 8+ hours each night makes for mornings where your skin literally looks like it was invaded by maggots overnight. I’m not even sure I should elaborate on that one, because it’s gross enough without saying anything further, but just know that I went straight to the sink every single morning to try and verryyyyy gently remove these pretend maggots. Now, yall see why K.T. is such a good man?…he still slept in the bed with me with maggot face every night and didn’t complain once. Sick.
4) Ear leakage/crust
Well week 5 brought an ear infection and while my skin on the outside was starting to get pretty torn up, that also meant the skin inside my ear canal was experiencing some of the same kind of torment. But since my ear wasn’t getting as much exposure to fresh air to dry out like my neck and such, the weepiness from my skin falling off just kind of hung out in there for a while. So that meant when I went to sleep, my ear leaked a little. It leaked goo. Sometimes it looked like water and sometimes it had a hint of yellow or brown. Who knows what was actually going on in there. All I know is it was gross. Not to mention itchy.
5) Ear booger
If you were around me enough soon after treatment, you’ve probably heard about this little guy. Considering my entire ear crusted up inside and out and the radiation caused the skin to slough off and basically die, it’s not inconceivable that the inside of my ear would grow a friend for me to find…and because I cant leave anything alone, I did in fact find it.
One fine morning after my shower, I went poking around inside my ear with a sterilized bobby pin determined to find some relief from the dryness, itchiness, and general uncomfortableness of my ear being destroyed. (This is not where you tell me it’s dumb to shove things in my ear. I’m aware. But I do stuff like that anyway because I’m stubborn). I had been having issues with my ear leaking as mentioned above so if I suctioned my finger to my ear hole, I could get some water out on my finger every time. And man, was I tired of not being able to hear out of that side and the constant whirring noise I heard because of my ear canal being swollen to the size of a coffee straw.
So after a few failed swipes in there, I tried one more time. A twist and a slow pull and I had a bobby pin with a ooey, gooey, slimy white skin booger looking thing on the end of it. I could finally hear. Praise the Lord.
6) Rope saliva
This is one I didn’t notice as much since I was constantly chugging water and trying to get the trash taste out of my mouth or determine what type of food I was trying to chew, but basically your saliva turns to syrup and it makes strings from your tongue to the top of your mouth anytime you open it. Think melted cheese….sticky, stringy, and hard to swallow. Thankfully this one subsided quite quickly since radiation ended, but my saliva is still thicker than I would like it to be. Small victories.
7) Tongue ulcers
And finally, my little tongue. Reminiscent of the middle school days of braces, the side of my tongue that the radiation was going through shredded itself into a million tiny ulcers that at some point warped into one giant ulcer. Most of them were along the side and back towards my molars which hurt super bad to chew but a few cropped up on a tonsil or down on my gums. My tongue clearly took the brunt of it though. Salt…was a no-no, but let’s be real…I couldn’t taste it anyways. It just burned like fiery hell. The taste buds may have been gone but the nerves weren’t.