It has been almost two weeks of living with the new normal. So far I have to say it is not my favourite. The side effects of radiation were minor, the worst of which was about a week of what I described as having a tennis ball stuck in my chest. This would act up after eating or drinking anything and feel somewhat like a combination of having the internal pressure of a tennis ball in the chest and having the wind knocked out of you at the same time. Ouch!! I managed this discomfort by eating a diet of soup and soft foods. It still acts up now and then, mainly when I make a bad choice of what to eat.
My bigger issue is with the continuing side effects from chemo, peripheral neuropathy. Living with chronic pain is truly awful. It impacts every aspect of one’s life. Day and night I struggle to function with numb, burning and weak hands. Coupled with my left thumb and right wrist being swollen and sore making every day activities a challenge. Activities that were always taken for granted are now humbling and frustrating. Getting dressed, pulling on pants or socks, doing up buttons, snaps and zippers, tying shoelaces, brushing and flossing your teeth, putting on make up, opening jars or cans, using scissors, cutting food, writing, typing, pressing small buttons, vacuuming, lifting anything whether it is heavy or light…this list grows daily as I become more aware of my new limitations. All of these things I used to do with ease and never give any of them a second thought. Now that my hands are completely numb for the first few hours after waking up I have to think ahead and open cans of cat food at night because they are too difficult to open in the morning. I used to open the storm door on my house with my thumb, now I use both hands. Now just turning the key in the doorknob is difficult, especially on very cold days. I am somewhat glad I don’t have much hair to deal with as blow-drying and styling hair would be very difficult. Through it all I do my best to carry on, smile and laugh. The next time you do these simple tasks, think about how often you rely on your thumbs, fingers and wrists and remember to be kind to others as you don’t know what the reality is behind their smile.
Even more concerning was the conversation I had with my doctor about the length of time it takes for nerves to heal. Something along the lines of 1 inch per month. I did the rough calculation in my head and the answer doesn’t work for me. So I am reading a book about the body’s nervous system to understand how the nerves in the arms and hands work and what they look like. With this information I can develop my visualization scenario and apply my sparkle theory to heal my hands, arms and related nerve damage.
I cannot remember the last time I slept through the night. I will be the happiest woman on the planet when the day comes that I am pain free and sleep through the night!!
I sparkle on…one day at a time. 🙂