I didn’t know that happened. Well, now you do. No.1: Sore Tongue

November 4, 2011 § 3 Comments

Without wanting to stray into the area of too much information, I have been told that I need to say more about things that are happening to my body. I’ve avoided this a bit because I don’t want this blog to be a big cancer moan. On the other hand, two people who have been really helpful to me, Gail and Cheryl, are women who have been through chemo themselves and who have been generous in offering reassurance when I send yet another frantic text outlining some new symptom. “Oh yes,” they say. “That happened to me,” and I calm down. As Gail said to me, having chemo gives you a grounding in health issues you never imagined to be relevant.

So the following is offered in the spirit of: 1. I didn’t know that happened, and 2. Well, now you do.

In the previous post I mentioned having thrush on my tongue. The problem with chemo is that it doesn’t know just to attack the bad multiplying cells. Instead, like a child who’s had too many fizzy drinks, it runs rampant, having a go at pretty much anything. In particular, it likes fast growing cells – good, in that we want it to nut any quickly developing bits of cancer, but bad, in that this is what causes your hair to fall out, for example.

Back to my mouth. In case you don’t know, oral thrush is an infection of a yeast fungus called Candida albicans in the mucous membranes of the mouth. It doesn’t become a problem until there’s a change in the chemistry of the oral cavity that favours candida over the other micro-organisms that are present and, wouldn’t you know it, chemo prompts those changes. Bugger. Babies and denture wearing folk are also prone to getting it.  The result – an ugly white sludge. It feels as if someone has taken a razor to the top layer of my tongue and then tried to sandpaper the surface. Rather spitefully, that same person has then sprinkled a nasty tasting something on to what remains.

The GP assures me that oral thrush is actually very common and seemed surprised that I hadn’t had it before, so maybe, after all, I have lived a very sheltered life. He had given me an oral suspension, which I have to leave on my tongue several times a day and not talk for a while. Very much hoping this will do the trick.

Other mouth issues can include ulcer like sores, a few of which I had during the first lot of treatment but haven’t had since,  and a dry mouth. The lovely Gail told me she was given artificial saliva. Who knew? I also suspect I am drinking way too much orange and grapefruit juice because the sharp flavour cuts through the thrush nastiness, hence storing up a host of teeth issues. Hey ho! One thing at a time.

And, as you know, I like to give you a bit of art. So here is Robert Maplethorpe’s Clothespinned Mouth  1978, from the Tate’s collection. Apparently, it is more about sado-masochistic fetishes, the S&M scene of the 1970s and Mapplethorpe’s strict Catholic upbringing than it is about oral thrush, but it works for me.

Sore mouth

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§ 3 Responses to I didn’t know that happened. Well, now you do. No.1: Sore Tongue

  • Jan Dilg says:

    Ahh, thrush. Tucker had it on his tongue when he was four months old and nursing. Needless to say, he transferred his Candida to my breasts, also an uncomfortable place to have thrush. Topical gentian violet proved the ultimate thrush slayer.

    Is it possible to drink too much grapefruit juice? I say, not.

    Glad friends and family are there to assist you through your new discoveries and remedies. xoxo

  • Liz Heaney says:

    That’s a Mapplethorpe I haven’t seen before, do you think he was trying out for the Guiness book of records? The information you give is never too much, you have got it just right. It’s reassuring to know that you have some friends who can help you with insider knowledge and now I know!
    Liz xx

  • Jeffre Jackson says:

    I got thrush a few months after Madelief was born and was both intrigued and outraged that such an unpleasant experience had such a happy, sylvan name. (Apparently, the bird and disease are unrelated etymologically.)

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