▲ BEFORE GENERAL ANESTHESIA, ▲
AN EKG ASSURES THE SURGICAL TEAM
THAT MY HEART CAN HANDLE THE PROCEDURE.
My Head and Neck Surgeon removed both tonsils, plus the pillars that supported them, and a little extra near the base of each pillar, to try and get as much of the zombie tissue as possible. He sent them to the pathology lab to get a clearer diagnosis of exactly what is going on in my neck. The operation was far more involved than most tonsillectomies, because he had to remove more tissue that might be cancerous. It required general anesthesia, and was more painful and debilitating than I anticipated. My throat now works (and fails to work) differently than it did, and some of the dysfunction may be permanent. Even my right jaw is stiff and hurting, and will not allow me to open my mouth fully. I can’t bite a hamburger now, and may not be able to, for months, or forever. Some subtler and more frightening changes developed from the surgery and the cancer a few weeks later – more about them in another journal entry.
The pathology report from the removed tonsils confirmed cancer. It had started in my right tonsil and spread to some nearby lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are a favorite destination for cancer to find new digs, when the home organ gets crowded. I had seen it coming, and was not surprised, but the chill sank deeper into my bones. Dr. S. gave me the best information he had, and what assurance he could, and set up an appointment with the cancer treatment facility Kaiser runs in Los Angeles. Patients and staff alike just call it Sunset, because the main hospital, around which a dozen or so of their buildings cluster, is on Sunset Blvd. in the belly of the beast.