This photo was taken just outside Dr. Haughey's Ear, Nose & Throat office on the 11th floor of the Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis. See the St. Louis Arch on the skyline in the background between us? Right by my cheek.
Dr. Haughey's darling and intelligent staff - at least part of them.
We love our St. Louis routine. Starts with a 45 minute Southwest flight. We hop off the plane and onto the Metro Link to the Central West End stop. Then straight to Dr. H's office on the Barnes Hospital / Washington University campus, suitcases and all. (This trip three people asked "Are you moving in?")
The post-surgery visits are similar. They nasal spray Mike at the start of the check to numb up the passageway. Dr. Haughey comes in after a bit and does a visual examination, then a 'massage like' exam of his neck area. He can tell immediately if there is something out of place. Then he scopes Mike by inserting a video camera device on the end of a long tube into his throat cavity through his right nostril. (Yes, that is correct.) I marvel every time how Mike manages this so bravely. Dr. Haughey gives a verbal report that his RN types into the computer during this entire process. You hear words like "soft palpation, good", "no lesions seen", "base of tongue normal". I felt sheer delight and felt my body let out a huge sigh of relief when I heard him proclaim at the end "Looks 100%".
For some reason, this visit felt even more affirming to me. Maybe because Dr. H has said the same good report three times now. Maybe it was because the nurses took time to talk with us at the end of the appointment and said things like "You know, Mike really looks good. He is really healing well. We see a lot of people, and he really looks good." Maybe because in the waiting room this visit every other person in the waiting room had a very serious deformity from their head & neck cancer. I walked away from our day with an overwhelmingly thankful heart.
Another sweet thing happened. Precursor to the story: I had been telling Mike that it might be a good idea for him to try to get more sleep to help him recover from the lingering radiation side effects. I am sure Mike deeply respects everything that I say... (I am smiling)
But Dr. Haughey happened to say: "Sleep is your best aly. We know that the growth hormone is only secreted during sleep. Get 8 hours to be protective."
Straight from Dr. Haughey. The advice just got elevated to important. I quickly added that I did not pay him to say that, and Dr. H added he said it off the cuff. This bit of wisdom coupled with the good report were worth their weight in gold.
A fun side note was after Dr. H checked Mike's shoulder muscles for loss of strength, Mike added that he had officially started working out again - and he was up to 30 pull-ups. He got a rousing 'whoa' which I am confident will spur him on with his workouts.
In the same way that we did extensive research to find the best way to remove Mike's cancer (which resulted in finding Dr. Bruce Haughey), we are now embarking on a journey of how to best recover the immune system from radiation. Western medicine does an excellent job of targeting and eradicating most cancers, but does not provide much insight in how to recover from treatment side effects. We are on our way to recovering vibrant health... but that is another story for another day.