It turns out that the problem with my tongue is thrush, a yeast infection brought on by all the antibiotics I have taken recently, both to treat my pneumonia and given routinely with the kidney surgery.
Dr. Goguen prescribed lozenges and a mouthwash. If it isn't gone in a month she will have to do a biopsy, but she seemed pretty certain that won't be necessary. This is a big relief because the surgeon who removed my tooth on Thursday wrote down that he saw signs of dysplasia: abnormal cells. Naturally that made me suspect that I might need more surgery on my tongue.
After that I went across the street to the Kraft Blood Donor Center for my "therapeutic phlebotomy," withdrawal of a bag of blood to help lower the amount of excess ferritin being stored in my liver due to all the transfusions I had. I am trying to schedule this once a month instead of taking a daily dose of the nauseating Exjade, which also lowers ferritin over a long time period.
So far, so good. The only problem left to address was the painful sores on my lips. Katie, who had driven me to Boston, went with me back to Dana-Farber so that Dr. Alyea and Melissa could take a look. The viral culture came back negative, so it is a mystery. I am going to try increasing my dosage of Valtrex, the anti-viral I already take. I tried this a couple of weeks ago to no avail, but they want me to try it again. In the meantime Melissa is scheduling me with one of their dentists who deals with this kind of thing.
So, another specialist. Sigh.
Meanwhile, Dr. Alyea said he might consider a topical steroid if it comes to that.
Back home, I could barely eat my dinner...again. I open my mouth wide enough to get food in without touching my lips, and then I nibble with my front teeth like a little rabbit. Last week's extraction makes it difficult to chew on the right side, which is sore, and the left side is already missing three teeth.
In a mother-child role reversal, Katie said I had to eat something. She pulled the applesauce out of the refrigerator, brought a bowl and spoon over and asked me how much. Washing the applesauce down with ice cream, I am feeling better now.