Patient Stories

Mac's Story

The journey started for me 15 years ago in February 2004 when I saw a locum doctor for a new patient check-up. I was asked how I felt and said I had a slight tickle in my throat. I was given a course of antibiotics and told to come back in ten days if there was no improvement. I returned to see my new doctor who took one look at my throat and rang the Ear Nose and Throat department at The Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital. I was sent to A&E and ended up being kept in hospital overnight on a drip.

I was sent back home the following week for a CT scan and then a biopsy on the Friday 13th! Ten days later I was told I had squamous cell carcinoma on the right tonsil. My operation was set for 18th April but cancelled on the day due to a lack of ITU beds. Thankfully, it was swiftly rearranged for 23rd April.

"Ten days later I was told I had squamous cell carcinoma on the right tonsil"
After my operation I was left with a small hole in my soft palate, due to a slight tear in the new flap. Although I'd had a peg fitted, unknown to me at the time, the peg had come out internally after a coughing fit the first night I had returned home. Over the next few days I became very weak and was readmitted with peritonitis. I was too weak to operate on, so the consultant radiologist and endoscopy matron decided to fit a drain in my back. I was discharged five days later. Thirty sessions of radiotherapy started shortly after this and I suffered the usual side effects: dry mouth, trouble swallowing etc. I was fed by peg for two to three months.

"I started back to work part-time in the October and was back working full-time by the New Year in 2005"
Over the next few years everything went as well as could be expected with regular visits to hospital for checkups, to my GP and dentist. The thing we did notice was that I was starting to have problems with my teeth,. Although my dentist was very good, it seemed that every time I had a filling it would last only a couple of months.

In 2009 with my teeth getting worse, I saw the maxillofacial consultant who referred me to the restorative dentist. In 2010 I started regular trips to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton to attend the Restorative Dentist's clinic. I was fortunate enough to be able to take early retirement at this time otherwise it would have been very difficult to take so much time off work. In September 2011, I started treatment at the Peninsular Dental School under the guidance of the Restorative Dentist.

"In early 2012 it was decided that the only way forward was for all my teeth to be removed. My consultant then asked if I was willing to have another procedure at the same time to fix my soft palate - I agreed."
Before either of these could take place I would have to have thirty sessions of hyperbaric oxygen treatment over a six week period at the DDRC Healthcare Centre (The Diving & Diseases Research Centre) in Plymouth.

The operation was set for 12th July and all went well - dental clearance, six implants inserted and a right temporalis muscle flap was inserted to close the gap in my soft palate. I had an eight day stay in hospital and was nil by mouth for four days. The following week started a ten day post op period of hyperbaric oxygen treatment. All went extremely well.

Three months later the implants were uncovered and fittings for the new dentures took place in Taunton. The top set were fitted in March 2013, followed by the bottom set in the April. I had a check up in May and was signed off for 12 months. I saw the Restorative Dentist in May 2014 and was fully signed off.