Sunday, July 10, 2011

Get Well or Feel Better I

She was in her 60s. Apparently she was suffering from a disease that caused her nerves to go haywire. For several months she had been experiencing lightning like pains on her face and head. She also started to have difficulty swallowing. Her voice had become hoarse and breathy. Several tests had been done, medications given but the symptoms were becoming worse. She had lost a lot of weight, had poor appetite, and was very weak and had to be sedated to be able to sleep.

A referral was made to our department for evaluation. A camera was passed through her mouth to visualize her throat. Just above her voice box and covering half of the entrance to the food tube was a tumor. This was definitely the cause of the difficulty swallowing and voice changes. But the pain might be because of another problem.

A few nights before she left the hospital I came across her fully awake. She burst into tears. "I don't want to die," she said. She recounted the suffering she had been through for the past few months. "I'm loosing hope. My brother just died of cancer and I'm going next."

I talked with her. and left.


A few weeks later, I saw her again. She was back for a follow-up consultation.

Yes, she still was experiencing the pain.

Yes, it was still a chore to swallow food.

Yes, her voice was as raspy as ever.

Yes, the thing in her throat was cancer.

Yes, she had to undergo radiation therapy.

Yes, she was still frail to look at.

Yes, she still had difficulty sleeping.

In fact, everything that caused her recent confinement to the hospital was still there.
Now she even knew she had cancer.

But she was smiling. Her voice was energetic. She was making jokes.
She walked on her own. She was stronger.

The only thing different was that somehow, during the last few weeks...
She had found the will to live.
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