Peripheral neuropathy can be one of the side effects of chemotherapy. I learned recently that just because the chemo is behind you it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve dodged all the bullets.
For the past two or three weeks, I’ve had little or no sensation in the tips of my fingers and thumbs. So far the impacts of this have been limited to a reduced ability to turn book pages and the odd late and loud response to hot surfaces while cooking. I’ve put this gem on the list called “Let’s hope it goes away one day”.
Meanwhile the daily zap impacts have begun to accumulate with mild to medium sunburn like sensations and sensitivities. Once more in the round of treatment, this product has become my friend. After this afternoon’s zap, it’s 15 down and 5 to go.
It happens time and time again. Whether or not we’ve had experience with something, it seems common to set up expectations about how something’s going to go, how someone’s going to react, how much time something will take.
Despite being told that the impacts of each chemo session are cumulative and have longer impacts, I figured on this last cycle that it would be enough just to plan for a couple of extra days of dysfunction. Ipso facto, by now I should be bouncing back. You know, still easily fatigued, but noticing daily improvement.
“You should be feeling better by now.”
Not quite, but soon. Let’s just not pinpoint a date.
It’s been eleven weeks (give or take a day or so) since we selected seedlings to plant out in the extended vegetable garden. The nursery visit was a distraction from the commencement of chemo that April Fool’s Day afternoon.
When we planted them, it seemed such a long way away until any harvest. Who knew that broccoli heads would evoke such excitement?
In less than two weeks, I will start four weeks of daily radiation therapy. Somewhere along the way, my hair will begin to grow again.
After that, there will be decisions about medication that holds the prospect of longer-lasting side effects than either the chemotherapy or radiation. It is clear that serious discipline around exercise and nutrition will be required to manage and maintain my health and fitness from this point on.
I’ve not reported any highlights of this past week. It’s too easy in the low periods to let the days blur into one another.
For the record, here’s a summary.
On the day after the delayed chemo infusion, old friends from Canberra came to visit bearing flowers and wine, upon which I looked longingly as the glasses of others were charged and subsequently emptied.
It was such a warm afternoon, I stepped up and out for a slow walk to the point where we were rewarded with the presence of pelicans on the shoreline.
On Day 3 of this cycle, unexpected visitors from the north arrived to find that my social skills were somewhat reduced. In the days that followed, human connection was limited to occasional moves in Words with Friends and mostly short responses in telephone conversations.
This cycle has confirmed for me that, not only is everyone’s experience of chemotherapy in its many forms different, but the effects of each individual cycle are different too. This time around, I’ve spent less time sleeping away the worst days and more time taking advantage of medications to manage what one might call one’s gut response.
I’ve managed to tackle most daily newspaper crosswords albeit slowly and feel generally as if my brain function has held on a bit better this time. Improvement is just days away and of one thing I am certain. It will arrive in the form of a cup of coffee.
The blessed “I feel like coffee” day may be taking a little longer to arrive this cycle around the park but any day you are well enough to feel like decorating your breakfast oats with fruit and nuts is a better day than yesterday.