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Trouble Swallowing after surgery

Paul_in_WV
Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2011

I want to start out by saying I am new to this community and want to thank all of you for sharing your experiences. I had stage 4 tonsil cancer on the left side. I had spread to three lymph nodes on the left side. On Jan 21, I had radical neck dissection followed by robotic throat surgery on Jan 31. They removed the tonsil, a bunch of tissue around it a small portion of the tongue. My problem is, it has been 16 days since the last surgery and I am still unable to swallow and thing thick than water. I do pretty well with water, tea, etc. However, applesauce and things of that nature just won't go down. Surely there isn't THAT much swelling left after 2 weeks, right? Anyone else have the same issues? Anything that helped? Any thoughts?

sweetblood22's picture
sweetblood22
Posts: 3230
Joined: Jan 2010

Unfortunately this can result after surgery depending on what they need to remove and the possible nerve damage that ends up happening. I had a modified radical and was lucky in that I have very minor paralysis on my left side and I have gotten my left arm almost back to normal. I did not have swallowing issues until after radiation, and that was due to a stricture. I would speak to your ENT and let him know whats going on and ask about seeing a speech pathologist for swallowing exercises.

Welcome to our site and I wish you the best.

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5655
Joined: Apr 2009

Welcome to CSN, Sweet hit it on the nail you just need to give it time and see what you still have we call that our new normal. Radiation and Chemo will also give you some other side affects , go over that with your Ocal doc or ENT.

Take care glad you found us and hope you plan to stay
Hondo

sportsman
Posts: 98
Joined: Feb 2010

I did not have problems swallowing after my surgery. I had a radical neck dissection with fourteen lymph nodes removed with several being positive for cancer. I was able to eat my last good meal a little over four years ago now in a restaurant. It was my favorite meal, steak, baked potato, salad and bread. I guess this was my "death row" meal so far as eating goes as I can no longer go out to eat. I would have been fine with just surgery, however the radiation did some major damage to me. I have a severe stricture and at present have had five esophagus dilations done in the last four years. Eating is no longer a joy but is just done for survival. Initially lost fifty pounds off a fit and muscular body. Have only gained about twenty of those pounds back and really do not want to gain more as this would require more eating. I also have severe lymphedema which requires massages and wearing the facial mask to restrict the flow of lymph fluid coming back into my neck. I am alive and appreciate every minute I get to spend with my wife, family and friends. My prayer is that some day soon that something will be done that this terrible cancer can be eliminated with something besides this horrible radiation. I agree that you should see a speech therapist and get swallowing exercises prescribed. Take care and God Bless

Hal61's picture
Hal61
Posts: 656
Joined: Dec 2009

Hi Paul, glad your able to post and welcome. You'll find a great compilation of categorized past threads on swallowing, strictures (which you don't have) and other post treatment symptoms on Sweet''s superthread. Just put that word into the CSN search and look at one that is labeled as the collection. Lot's of great threads there, all infromative and well ordered with links.

best, Hal

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8058
Joined: Sep 2009

Welcome to our forum Paul...

I can't relate as for the swallowing after a neck dissection, I didn't have one. I did have the tonsils removed (STG III Tonsils an a tumor (right side for both) HPV+), with a little extra tissue. Then sixteen weeks of combinations of chemo an chemo/rads.

Swallowing without pain does take some time, 16 days is very early. Just from the radiation, there was about a seven week period for me that I required pain meds of varying kinds just to get water and Ensure Plus down.

Give your body some time, it's a very slow process on the healing. I'm nearly two years out and pretty much fully recovered, but I still get various aches and pains in that area from time to time...

Best,
John

charles55's picture
charles55
Posts: 87
Joined: Aug 2010

It might be a simple stricture of the esophagus, but a second real possibility is nerve damage that is not allowing the throat/esophagus to move anything thick downward when you swallow. It doesn't have push water downward since gravity does all the work. In any case, I would ask for an assessment by the Speech Therapy guys.

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