Wednesday, November 09, 2011

November 9, 2011 – Second-Guessing Symptoms

I’ve developed a sore throat today.

That in itself is unexceptional.  It’s November, and we’ve had some unseasonably warm days.  It’s the sort of weather when sometimes I go out without a jacket and discover it’s a little chillier than I thought, having observed the bright, inviting sunshine through the window.

Prime time for sore throats and other cold symptoms, in other words.

Yet, I can’t help recalling what they told me up at Sloan-Kettering about the dry mouth that’s a common side effect of radioactive-iodine treatments.  It can kick in any time from a day or two after the procedure until many weeks later.  And it can last up to a year.

The preventative?  Suck on sour candy to keep the ol' salivary glands a-pumping.

Sounds like old-timey apothecary’s advice, doesn’t it?

I bought a bag of sour balls and have been following instructions, although the last day or two, I’ve been slacking off.  Everything seemed fine, so I figured that was maybe OK to do.

My mouth doesn’t feel especially dry right now, but maybe this is how it begins, I tell myself.

On the other hand, maybe it’s just a plain, garden-variety sore throat.

After you’ve had cancer treatment, they give you long lists of symptoms to look out for. Very often there are so many of these, and they’re of such variety, that they can be easily be confused with other, minor ailments that come and go.

Yet, there’s something about our wayward minds that leads a great many of us to imagine the worst-case scenario.

Is my sore throat the result of suddenly-underactive salivary glands that were singed by the radiation?  Or is it just the beginnings of a common cold?

At lunchtime I drove over to the drugstore and invested in a jumbo bag of lemon-mint Ricola throat lozenges.  I figure that covers both eventualities.

Pucker up!

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