Six Months after Chemotherapy
Posted February 3, 2011on:
It has been over six months since my last chemotherapy session mid-July, so it’s time to do a review of recovery.
For the most part, I am back to normal, and the things that are still a problem for me are unusual for most patients. I still am needing more sleep than I used to, including a mandatory rest during the day. If I don’t take the rest, I feel tired and am dragging for the subsequent 24 hours. The doctors assure me that most patients are more resilient than I am. My family doctor is checking on other possible causes, with some blood tests. The oncologist thinks it will work itself out, which I’m inclined to believe. Each week, I need a little less sleep than the week before. Very slow progress, but it is happening.
The most obvious chemo thing is my short-short hair which I have little control over. It is still too short to do much to dictate order to the weird waves and curls. I gave up wearing wigs at New Years. I just measured, by hair is about 1.75 inches or 30 mm long. It beats being bald, I guess.
I’m watching the little grooves in my fingernails finally growing out – there is one wave for each of the chemo sessions. I’ve learned that each nail grows at its own speed - the fingers closest to my little finger have totally grown out, but ridges remain on my thumb and index fingers. That’s kind of weird.
So that’s it on chemo.
It’s been like 10 weeks since my armpit surgery. In the last week, I started feeling sensation in areas that have felt numb since the surgery. It takes a while for the nerves to recovery. The sensation comes back in layers – the surface has the least sensation, but there is a lot more in the deep parts of the skin.
Diligent exercises have paid off nicely. I have movement back reaching up for the sky – I can do it, but it still hurts so I have to keep working at it. The other movements – hands on my waist with elbows out and hands on my lower back facing backwards are both fine. The trouble still exists with rotation when my arm is bent. Some of this is left over damage from 2001. Each day I stretch it until it hurts, but not too much. It slowly progresses. Very slowly.
What about the radiation burns after 11 months? Remember my skin has had a double dose of radiation. The first time it was all healed by this time. My skin is still a little darker in the radiated area and still feels different, a little dryer and less flexible, but nothing troublesome. It often reminds me that I need to apply lotion to keep it feeling good. There are not any obvious scars or ugly discolorations that were a possibility.
I got a phone call today from radiation oncology asking for contact information from my radiation in California. Luckily, I have a notebook with basic information from that time to refer to. It feels very anal to be taking such detailed notes, but I learned from last time, it is hard to remember all the major stuff, let alone the details. They need to know how much radiation I had in California – I guess to look at the total amount of radiation that will be hitting my body – now they are prepping for a third round of radiation in a lifetime. Soon I will glow in the dark.
For most patients, the worst is over by now and life returns to 3 or 6 months screenings and inspections with the oncologist and surgeon… Cancer takes a back seat and life returns to normal. For me that will be delayed until I’m done with this next radiation, but it will happen. Next week I go through the last of a very thorough battery of tests. Each so far has shown I’m healthy and no signs of nastiness which is what matters most.
For all of us, there will be little scares, biopsies or even things that need treating in our futures. For some, the disease takes a life of its own, defying the treatments. It is uncertainty we all have to live with, yet for now, the future looks good and I’m doing everything I can to sway the odds in my favor.