Top 10 Questions
Here are 10 questions that I know I was thinking about whilst going through all of this, hopefully they may help you.
- Is it easy to take the obturator out and of course put it back in again?
Yes, no problem - once you get used to it. When I was first shown how to do it, the nurse held a mirror up in front of my face, at this point I had never looked into my mouth, I wasn't ready to see the hole that was left from the Cancer - I pushed the mirror away and didn't want to see. It took a few days to come around to it, but I did eventually look and it wasn't too bad. From that moment on, I had no problem in cleaning both the Obturator and my mouth and hole.
It is REALLY important to keep clean - I know this perhaps is obvious, but you don't want to have an infection - keep the area clean, try and clean three times a day, that was what I was told, this is what I have done and to this day I have had no infection (not that I have been aware of anyway).
- Will I look different?
Perhaps - I do a little. My family will say I don't but I notice some change. Having said that it is minor for me, I notice that my mouth is slightly up on one side and that my cheek is puffy, although this could still be healing. It could be worse for me if my surgeon needed to cut my face - in the end, I was very lucky I think.
- Will I be able to eat again?
Yes yes yes. Although it can be difficult at times, as time goes on (I'm writing this 5 months after surgery) it just gets better and better. I am/was a real foodie, loved all sorts of food. It was a real concern for me that I would have problems eating, or probably more so what I could or couldn't eat. Strange thing is, after it all I wasn't that bothered. I didn't eat for 2 weeks after the operation, simply because I couldn't.
You adapt, you eat what you can and as time progresses you eat more and more different things. Eating out can be a problem as you need to know that there will be something on the menu you can manage - but again, as time goes on this gets easier.
- Will I be Cancer free?
I can't answer this, even today. In my mind I think I will ask this question until my demise - problem is, I never had Cancer before this, I could never get cancer, I was indestructible and then I wasn't. I'll always be a little scared I'm afraid. I hope to one day live without fear of cancer, but I doubt it. Best, perhaps I think of it less and less.
- Does it hurt, after the operation?
it didn't initially - whilst in hospital I don't remember too much pain at all. But for me, and this may only be me, I had real trouble when I got home.
About 8 days or so after my op, I would get up in a morning and within half an hour I would have some serious pain, on the inside of my cheek. I'm talking about proper pain, debilitating pain that stopped me in my tracks. I would take pain killers that were prescribed to me and wait, eventually the pain went.
This went on for a few weeks, until the skin and area inside my mouth healed. It doesn't mean that you would experience this, but if you do, please please think that it is temporary, because it is. The pains eventually goes and you get through it.
- How long until it's all normal again?
Probably never - however, you learn that you have a new normal and you get used to it. I promise, you get used to it. It's a massive deal - people don't realise what's happened to you - only you, I and other that have had it done will know. This is also why I wanted to create this site, so that you know there are others that are like you, normal like you, you, me and others are normal. :-)
- What does it look like? Inside? Will it be awful when I run my tongue up into the hole?
It looks strange - not perhaps what you would expect. When I first looked, I looked at the hole, looked at the missing part of my palette, shut my mouth and went down stairs. 5 minutes later, I realised, where are my teeth?! I hadn't noticed when I looked, it was afterwards - strange.
For me, I find it easy to look in there, I want to ensure I keep my mouth clean so I need to look - it's me after all, I'm just seeing areas that I have never seen before, that's all.
Yeah, definitely feels strange when you run your tongue over the area. I don't get freaked out by it - and if you do, that's ok, that will change I'm sure.
- I don't know who to talk to about this - I don't know anyone who has experienced this?
You do now and I'll happily speak to you - contact me through the site, I will reply to you, usually within 24 hours. You are not alone, there are many others that have had this, lived and continue to do so.
- Why me? Why should this happen to me?
I asked myself this a number of times - I came to the simple conclusion: Why not? Point is, it can happen to anyone, there is no reason - it's nothing you have done in the past, you don't deserve it, no one does. Don't accept it, I still haven't - but don't waste time thinking about it. What's done is done.
- Can you speak ok?
I can - I don't know if you will be able to. What I can tell you is that I have ended up speaking so much better than I imagined. One of the problems with a Maxillectomy is that the roof of your mouth is altered, i.e. it is removed (or part of it is). You can't speak without it, the sound bounces off the top and out your mouth - when there is nothing for the sound to bounce off it doesn't sound right. You can sort of talk but it is very difficult.
This is one of the major points of having an Obturator, not only does it stop things going up into the empty space, it actually allows you to speak ok. I was worried before the op, I was worried after the op as it took a bit of time to get used to it and I did sound awful.
But it's fine now - I notice it a little, and if I am speaking for a long time I tend to lisp a few words, but no one would know. As I write this I still only have a temporary Obturator - so who knows, it may get EVEN better when I receive my definitive one!
The key to it is without doubt the fitting of the Obturator - if it fits tightly, then you will be speaking much better than if it is loose.