In remembrance of Stephen Taylor: Part 4: The Operation Was A Success But Patient Suffered Severe Pain

Before surgery

14 September 2022, 5:12 AM Steve sent this note:

  • Just have to do the best I can.
  • It’s a help just to be able to talk to someone like you.
  • No reply needed.

14 September 2022, 3:40 PM, Steve wrote:

Afternoon Dr. Chris. I read through your excellent booklet and couldn’t agree more with it.

  • The very first step in healing is for every cancer patient to recognise the influence of his own mind on his illness and recovery process. A negative mindset leads to more trouble and possibly unnecessary death, while a positive mindset gears you towards recovery. How could I possibly disagree?
  • But it’s one thing to say, and a completely different kettle of fish to do. I’m not a defeatist, only a realist. For example, I’m sure a belief in a higher power may be very supportive for some people. But try telling that to Einstein or most other Nobel Prize winners. I can’t fool myself into believing something that I don’t believe in. I don’t believe in karma or rebirth.
  • I’ve tried listening to healing music on YT, but as in standard meditation, my mind soon wanders off in all directions. The best antidote for  me is to remain active and especially when my bubbly 27 year old daughter is around. Can’t fail to smile then, and you would too if you met her!
  • Worst is when I’m sitting alone feeling unwell with this constant pressure on the cheek.

So thanks again Chris for all you’ve done.

14 September 2022, 6:10 PM, Steve wrote:

  • Hello Chris, I feel guilty using up all your time.

14 September 2022, 8:00 PM, Steve wrote:

  • People such as yourself restore my frayed faith in humanity.

14 September 2022, 8:21 PM, Steve wrote:

  • I cannot describe the emotion I feel … All I can possibly say is … THANK YOU !!!!

After surgery

18 September 2022, 10:13 PM Steve wrote:

Dear Dr. Chris,

  • Here’s a short update. I’m now wrapped up in bandages so don’t know what it looks like. Probably a couple days more of that. There’s a bottle draining liquid from the cheek which the nurse said looked normal.
  • I had the operation on 17 September at S Hospital to remove the tumor.
  • The expert surgeon came to see me with the following news.

The good points:

  1. He considers the surgery a success.
  • He removed a large 6 cm tumor on the cheek causing the lump, with minor damage to the nerve.
  • This minor nerve damage may heal itself in a few weeks.
  • My right eye still mostly works ok. I can close my mouth to drink (with some difficulty but I can manage). See how it goes over the next few weeks but he is pleased.
  • The cancer has not spread to the throat.
  • He did say that despite the problems below, he still says in his opinion that the op will give me better “quality of life’ but I haven’t discussed with him yet if he thinks it will extend life.

The not so good news:

  1. He could not remove a tumor on the other side of the nerve, because to do so would damage the nerve. I agreed completely.
  • He suspected that the cancer had gone to a lymph gland on the neck.
  • My own opinion on all this is that is exactly what I expected, assuming he is correct in the ‘quality of life’ bit.
  • Since I saw the ENT Specialist 3 months ago when the cancer was diagnosed by MRI scan and fine needle biopsy, it was clear to me that the cancer could not be “cured” by standard methods.
  • I agreed with the surgery only because the lump was growing bigger, even with herbs and the cannabis oil, and could become a serious problem.
  • It did offer more (but for how long?) ‘quality of life”.
  • Also, I agreed with everyone that surgery was the best thing to do, and maybe I could try different herbs if that’s what you think.

This hospital is very good and the standard of care and attention has been excellent. But of course there have been problems.

  1. They seem to have a diet specialist who has followed my recommendations of a veg diet, no milk, with rice soup. Seems healthy food. But they also gave me a sugary drink (to increase my strength?) and a sugary donut! I asked the dietician to stop the sugar and she readily agreed. Good.
  • Language problem. Essentially, they are giving me large doses of antibiotic to prevent infection, namely an IV antibiotic, an injected antibiotic, and pills antibiotic. Today I had hot flushes and felt unwell.

Could it be the current large doses of antibiotic which were causing the hot sweat  and my feeling unwell? Another doc came and explained that the symptoms for a reaction to antibiotic were heart palpitations, chest pains, and skin rashes. Since I don’t have those symptoms then he doesn’t think my feeling unwell is due to the antibiotic, even though I feel better now they’ve stopped giving it to me.

  • The nurse clearly told me in English they had to “open the wound’ on my cheek” to do something. I said in that case please give me pain killer because I don’t want pain. But the doctor said Nooooo, they are simply going to change the dressing.

So what did I learn from all this?

  • I think I was correct in (our) thinking that surgery would not be a cure, but hopefully it would give me more “quality of life”.
  • There is a language problem.
  • Thai doctors and nurses are not used to people – mainly Westeners –  asking questions and get peeved when we do. The Thai patients never ask questions, which is a big mistake. As I said to the doctor tonight, I am not a doctor, but I’m just telling them my concerns, but it’s a language problem. Please don’t think I’m criticizing anybody.
  • No comment needed unless you disagree with what I said.

19 September 2022, 8:33 AM Steve wrote:

Thanks Chris.

  • A bothersone problem is the cyst at the back of the throat — they gave some throat spray for temporary relief which doesn’t help much.
  • Another issue I have constipation. No dumps 2 days. So I told them I had this years ago for weeks and NOTHING worked (I tried many things) until someone suggested a PROBIOTIC. Bought a good one called “Primal Defence” and it cleared it up in one day, as if magic. This morning they told me they have to follow the hospital rules          (groan, I never like rules) and give me a laxative. But if they doesn’t work they will let me try the probiotic.
  • They changed the dressing this morning and said it would remain on for another 4 to 5 days.
  • The doc who came gave me more info about the operation. As far as I understand, they took out all the tumors, but did not remove all of the gland in case it damaged the nerve. He said the surgery doc was very careful about this. They could not see any more cancer by eye in the remaining bits of gland. Forgot to ask about the lymph node. So I suggest we can call it a win for now Chris.

21 September 2022, 10:12 AM Steve wrote:

Good morning Chris.

  • They removed the bandages and drain tube this morning. Will be discharged to go home today.
  • But when they removed the bandages the young doctors immediately saw an “abnormality” behind the right ear.

The surgeon came and said as follows.

  • He removed most of the tumors, as far as he can see by eye, but he could not remove all the margins in order to prevent more serious nerve damage. However, the cancer had spread like branches of a tree so he could not remove everything. Maybe 99%.
  • But they have now seen signs of skin lesions over the scalp and possible tumor behind the ear. By his demeanor I could tell he was concerned. This requires further investigation to see the origins of this progression.
  • He mentioned they might recommend light radiation on the troublesome areas as a palliative measure.
  • I said I understood completely, but there comes a time when we must just consider palliative care and quality of life. This was never meant as a cure.
  • He said we can discuss with the radiologist after several weeks. I said that’s fine, because I want to discuss this with my herbalist. He was very open and agreeable to this, not anti herbs at all.
  • He also said that he would make another appointment at S Hospital in about 10 days and he specifically asked my daughter to go with me. When a doc says that I know the news will not be good. I get that.

So Chris, perhaps we can wait to see if they can find out more about the skin problem and then consider what herbs to try, and whether or not to do radiation or other types of intervention. Let me know what you think when you get time.

  • Three days cleaning wound at home, and on 3rd day go to some clinic to remove the stitches. 
  • Day by day we do the best we can. Just want to go on a trip somewhere with my family. 

21 September 2022, 12:46 Steve wrote:

  • Actually, I don’t feel well at all at the moment. Heavy head and some discomfort around the incision.
  • Sore throat.
  • Hopefully just trauma from the surgery but I feel worse than before except for the lump removed.
  • BP high.
  • I can walk and talk.
  • So my feeling is to restart your herbs now, rather than wait until I see the doc again.
  • Can I continue with some or all of the herbs you sent me?

As far as I know:

  1. Cancer on the cheek and neck area.
  2. Parotid gland cancer largely removed. 99%?
  3. “Abnormality” behind right ear.
  4. Lymph node unknown status right now.
  5. Maybe skin cancer on scalp, unknown cause.
  6. Possibility going to brain. Doc asked if I had any symptoms. Heavy feeling on brain but can think ok.
  7. Cyst on throat. Unknown status.

I just follow your advice Chris. Nothing else I can do now. Day by day. Try to stay positive.

21 September 2022, 8:24 PM Steve wrote:

  • Now at home. Main problem is throat is quite bad. Cyst? Bandages pressing on throat? Effect of op/meds? Cancer? Cough mixture type stuff from doc has little effect.
  • Inclined to try your PAIN HERB as you suggest.
  • Wouldn’t feel so bad without the throat problem.
  • It is now just 4th day after major op. Must be patient.
  • Advised to go to any clinic to renew dressing around the face to protect the incision for next 3 days.
  • So my feeling is to restart your herbs now, rather than wait until I see the doc again.


23 September 2022, 9:24 AM Steve wrote:

  • Yesterday I had the bandages removed and the dressing replaced over the surgery wound  at the Camillian Hospital near to where I live, according to written instructions from S Hospital.
  • The doc there remarked that he thought the surgeon did a very good job.
  • About 3 hours after that I had quite severe pain over the cheek area of maybe 7 to 8 on the 0 to10 pain scale.
  • I took 1 tbs of your PAIN HERBS and the pain subsided to maybe a 2 to 3.
  • I don’t think the S Hospita-supplied cough medicine type stuff does much good.

I’ve since looked online and found that pain after major surgery can last for several weeks.

24 September 2022, 9:29 PM Steve wrote:

  • RESTARTING HERBS – I agree not really necessary now, and in any case I need a rest after the surgery ordeal, and maybe go away with my family.
  • STATUS – Today had the stitches removed. Doc said the wound looked good. I did one Ibuprofen 400 mg pain meds prior to this.
  • In afternoon felt quite well, better than before, but at around 7 p.m. felt a sharp pain on the brain, which concerned me so I had a glass of PAIN herb and a bit later 1 more Ibuprofen med. As at 8:30 pm pain much less and I feel relatively OK.
  • So Chris, unless you have anything particular to say, I will leave you in peace and not use up your valuable time so much.

29 September 2022, 5:47 AM Steve wrote:

  • My status about the same. Fairly constant pain around 3 to 4/10.
  • Uncomfortable feeling and numbness (nerve damage) on the cheek near the right ear, where there appears to be bruising.
  • Still constant sore throat, but better than the days after the op.
  • Still able to do a few things to keep me busy, as long as I don’t try to do too much when I feel ill.
  • About pain meds. You might not agree with the following. I understand.

I was discharged from S Hospital without any guidance on pain management, except a bunch of pills to help nerve damage, various cough mixture potions, sleeping pills, and some PARACETAMOL for pain! Unknown to me, one of the staff suggested to my wife to buy IBUPROFEN for pain control.

  • After a few days I found the cough mixtute stuff quite ineffective so stopped taking it, or taking very little.
  • Otherwise, I do take the nerve and sleeping pills (most nights). I also take meds to allow me to pee (BPH), and eye drops for eye pressure (to prevent glaucoma), and another eye drop (for cataracts).

1 December 2022, 4:11 PM Steve wrote:

  • My condition has deteriorated.

3 December 2022, 2:28 PM Steve wrote:

  • Please tell me if these updates are of no use to you, and just cluttering up your email IN box. I will understand.

Most interesting trip to the government N Hospital.

  • I first saw a young female doc at their Pain Management section. Very good doc who listened intently to what I had to say and asked pertinent questions. She prescribed a morphine based med to take if the pain reached a 5+ level. 
  • Then on to their Palliative Care section where a nurse and a woman in civilian clothes spoke at length to my daughter in Thai. This person is a university lecturer and found my story interesting and asked if she could share it with her students. I said absolutely she can if she thinks it would be helpful to them. Gives me some purpose in life if anything substantial came out of it. They exchanged contact details for follow-ups. I’ve asked my daughter to send her my prostate cancer story which is online.
  • Then there is an ENT doc who doesn’t impress me much. He’s paranoid about Covid for one thing. He  refused to offer assistance and told me to go back to S Hospital. Oh well, sometimes this happens in life.

4 December 2022, 3:08 PM Steve wrote:

Hello Dr. Chris, 

  • Sorry to say, I only managed to restart the full herb program for one day but felt so unwell that I had to stop.
  • Just one thing to say about the herbs. Maybe you think I’m talking rubbish. You may well be right! Since each of us is an individual with different reactions to things, would it be possible that so many different herbs taken during the day might be counter-productive?
  • They have an English expression “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” Might the same apply to the herbs? Shoot me down in flames if you consider this nonsense.