What happend to Erik

March 18th I was walking my dog, when I suddenly could not breath anymore. I was able to contact my wife, who called the emergency line. I was taken to the hospital. I ended up in emergency department which was one big chaos because of covid. I still could not breath. I was examined by an ent surgean who found a cancer tumor in my throat which was causing my larynx to shut off my trachea. Imagine, the poor guy who picked me up at home was still handpumping air in my lungs for an hour and a half, 60 kilometers in an ambulance.

At that point the ent surgeon, dr Hendickx decided to relieve the ambulance guy from his handpumping and took over. And he pumped, for 6 more hours! Why? Well, much of my symptoms were…. Pointing to covid. And because of that, the tracheotomy I urgently needed, could not be performed. The fact the ent surgeon clearly determined the tumor causing my larynx stressing my trachea could not change that. The way the surgery department is designed (overpressure) would be a tremendous risk for the entire hospital if air from my lungs would escape during performing tracheotomy.

Only six hours later, a custom surgery room in covid intensive care deparment was created and the traceotomy was performed. It really was a relieve to be able to breath on my own again after almost eight hours.
Two days later my covid testing returned negative, I was transferred to a normal department. I recovered for a week (also had pneumonia). I was put on tube feeding. Left the hospital at march 25th waiting for a call to be back in the hospital. The cancer tumor still had to be removed. During hospitalization some tests were done, my larynx and vocal cords could not be saved upon removal. So in medical terms, I was facing a laryngectomy.

This was performed mid april. A week after the operation my tube for feeding was removed. After 2 weeks, I spoke my first words without my focal cords. And was released from hospital. What left was a 6 weeks daily radiation therapy and chemotherapy (3 times). It started in may and 29th of june I had my last chemotherapy, and july 6th last radiotion therapy.

Since then I am well recovering. Half way september, I started working again, 3 days two hours. In the mean time I am working 3 days, four hours a day and I want to extend that to 5 days four hours within 2 weeks.
Returning to my old job entirely is somewhat difficult. 80% of my job is verbal communication with customers in stress situations. For me that is no problem, my talking is developing very well. But it can be a problem for the customers. I talked about that with my work, and the plan now is that I will be team leader of my team. So that wouls be quite a comeback. I got extremely good feedback from my collegues about that, so the future is looking good on that.

My wife and kids are handling it quite well. I am amazed on how well my kids adapt to this. School is helping them very good with that as I understand. So that feels good.

Last week I had a periodic check. My blood is checked on a variety of things. Amongst it is a value that shows if your body is fighting to (the specific form of) cancer cells that I was struck with. The value showed that I am clean at this moment. Next check will be in half a year. So it will be exciting for a period of time, but on this moment I feel good, strong and still stronger every day. I am confident for the future.