So for about 2 out of these 3 weeks I have felt like I have had the flu. My bones ached and every nerve has been hypersensitive, from my toe nails right to the tips of my finger nails. My toe nails and finger nails ached so much that I did not want to go out as that would mean having to put on shoes. The minute I put shoes on my toes and toe nails throbbed. Every time I washed up or cooked and especially trying to peel plastic film off containers my finger nails throbbed. To the extent that wringing a cloth to clean was painful. 3 weeks on my nerve endings are still sensitive but nothing like it has been. Lets turn to the hair, well I have dark hair and so my hair on my arms and legs was dark. I had some white on my head but now that my hair is starting to grow back I look like John Snow, seriously that is not a good luck. I have more white hair on my head than before and the hair on my arms and legs is also white. I didn’t realise that Chemo could affect the pigmentation of my hair. On the plus side you can’t see the hair as much as before and believe you me that will save a lot of hair removal time!
Oh and then there are the eyes, I no longer have any eye lashes and my eyes constantly water and then the water stings the skin around the eyes drying it out. To the point I nearly hit a cyclist whilst driving in Bristol or a dark rainy night.
Then there’s the issue of food and taste buds which are still off and the upset tummy on numerous occasions but I know the end is near and all this should return to normal soon.
Finally the Chemo brain and just not being with it. Well what can I say, I survived the last 5 months without doing anything stupid or forgetful albeit I have had several near misses and if I was at work I definitely would have been negligent. However, the last couple of days have been busy and I was in Devon picking up some stuff, whilst down there I thought I would return stuff that belonged to my ex that she had not been able to take. This communication led to her sending me an e-mail. Anyhow me and my son stopped off at the service on the M4 on our return and as we sat down I received a call from Barclaycard about some transactions on my card. Apparently, someone had spent over 200 pounds on the card online, so they had to cancel the card due to the compromise. I then saw the e-mail and started reading it, whilst reading this upsetting e-mail, phone in hand we left the service station. My son telling me to hurry up and to stop reading as he was eager to get home. We arrive home an hour later only to discover that I had left my handbag at the services. I was so annoyed with myself and the only thing that concerned me was my Chemo card and a pair of earrings my daughter had bought for me. My son immediately rang the service station, explained the situation only to be informed that they had not recovered a red handbag. He even insisted they look again at the table where we were seated. The purse contained my drivers license, which I needed to hire a van to move my son’s things at the weekend. Obviously when I told him that he was not best pleased and started on at me albeit he made me realise that I had to cancel my cards quickly as someone could spend quite a bit through the contactless facility. Anyhow, once he started I disappeared to the bath for some respite. At that point I saw a message pop up from my reflexologist on Facebook, informing me that someone had contacted her in an attempt to locate me and that was because I had her card in my purse. She sent me the gentleman’s name and contact number who lone behold lived 40 minutes away and attempted to contact me urgently so that I would not have to cancel any of my cards. I really could not believe that this person had picked up my handbag and then made all this effort to contact me to return it. I then met his wife today and she invited me in for a cuppa and I spent an hour chatting to this lovely lady. What a lovely couple and it is people like this who restore my faith in humanity.
Today I had my last Chemo. I really can’t believe it! I’m absolutely ecstatic! I’ve been on such a high this week that I thought I would reach out to a friend and say hey life is too short for grudges and move on pleasantly. Can you believe she fixated on something that happened 4 weeks ago when we parted company than the simple fact that its my last Chemo tomorrow and this is someone who supposed to care about me! Seriously is that too much to expect from a friend! I don’t know, but please do tell me. Not to mention the fact the 2 people I have given more too than anyone else did not even acknowledge today. It still surprises me at how some people in this world are so self-absorbed that they cannot see beyond themselves. My daughter says that there are 2 types of people in this world, drains and radiators and I have decided that I no longer wish to be around people who drain me because they are thoughtless individuals. Disappointed is the word, to say the least! Don’t get me wrong, albeit I feel let down, I am also thankful to all my friends, family, BMI staff and all the other individuals I have met throughout this journey and especially to both my son and daughter and work. I received some beautiful messages and flowers from people who genuinely care. Its so true, you do find out who your true friends are when the going gets tough.
Anyhow I’m in such a good mood and have been all week that nothing can affect it. Having said that physically this week has been the worse. I felt extremely poorly physically last week, like I had the flu. Every little part of me aches, right down to my fingertips. I don’t want to go out because I don’t want to put shoes on as they hurt my toes. I have a red lump on my back that hurts and is possibly infected, so must remember to mention it tomorrow. One of my toe nails is coming off and the other just throbs all the time if any pressure is applied.
The nerves in the right foot are still not normal after the episode with my back, so that foot feels strange all the time anyway. I know this week will be taxing and I will be having the port removed next week so just a little bit longer and I will start to mend physically.
The end is near, and I am hoping to go away in November for a few days and I really can’t wait to be free from these chains and live.
The journey is not over though, I will be having another operation in 3 month’s time but nothing compares to Chemo so that should be manageable.
It has been a long journey and a useful and enlightening interlude to life.
Sometimes there is sorrow
And sometimes there is pain
Often there is grief
And no one to blame.
The land of limbo
Is coming to an end
Yet the journey hardens
With every step.
Let it go
And let it be
The mantra continues
Find my qi and peace will follow.
Number 9 done today. 3 more weeks and no more Chemo. God this has been one hell of a journey, a rollercoaster of emotions at both extremes. I have felt both sorrow and love like never before and those are good things because at least I can feel these emotions, so I tell myself. Hey I have to make myself feel better!
So, my acupuncture and the needles going in to the port really hurt last week, to the point that my eyes welled up and the nurse commented on it being the first time she had seen me cry. That’s how painful it was! When the acupuncture needles went in, oh boy 2 of them really hurt and then this morning. It was an extreme f…ing moment where the needle reverberated one of my nerves and the therapist had to take the needle out. This means the anxiety kicks in because now you expect one of the next needles, she inserts, to set off another nerve. I wait in anticipation as the anxiety begins to build. Now then, I say to myself, where is that rational side, rational, pational, I say just deal with the emotions, she is telling you that it is unlikely to happen so trust the professional. In the meantime my son is trying to distract me by playing the trailer to the latest season of dare devil. It’s a marvel series on Netflix and yes I am sad but it keeps me entertained. In fact I have learned more about the marvel universe this year than anything else, thanks son!
Yesterday when I went in for my bloods. The nurse, who has now taken my bloods for the last 3 weeks and has been great. Alison, cleans the inside of my elbow, places the rubber band around my arm as I make a fist, sitting in a blue chair, in a clinical room with a desk on the right. We talk about giving up smoking, she’s been vaping. I tell I have one and will get it out. She inserts the needle into my arm, just after she tells there is going to be a sharp scratch. No blood comes, oh not again, I think, please don’t let that happen again. She jiggles the needle a little bit but nothing happens. Then she pushes on the needle and all of a sudden I hear a pop, sorry guys if that is too much detail, but something popped and blood came rushing out.
I could tell she wasn’t comfortable doing that and later said she felt the vain was pushing against the needle and albeit not experienced this with me, she had experienced it with other patients undergoing Chemo. She informed me that one of the side effects of Chemo can be the veins become thicker and that would also explain why I had felt in a lot more pain last week also.
Who knows! Was it because of the Chemo or was it because I had a particularly stressful week and the hot flushes had returned to normal and were coming thick and fast night, so I had been sleep deprived. The acupuncturist believed my nerves were extra sensitive because of the additional stress in life.
So I decided to look in to what happens when your body is under considerable stress, like mine. Well our brain releases a chemical called cortisol and by the way this is only own interpretation of the chemical reactions that go on in the body, and even that derived itself from google. Sometimes I think our younger generations will be clones of google. Anyhow the body goes into a fight or flight response when the brain perceives danger, during this time the brain releases a chemical called cortisol and one of the side effects of having huge amounts of cortisol in your body is that your body starts to fight itself and you develop auto immune responses. So I developed these little lumps over my fingers which became quite inflamed last week. Another thing I learned was that cortisol can have deleterious effects on the immune system and thus delays the body healing itself. All of this is interesting and it sort of explains why we as humans develop individual responses to coping with stress.
That is in no way to say that I’m not feeling sorry for myself, I feel incredibly let down by some people, yet others have extended warmth during this particularly difficult period. One of my friends described it as being a mole burrowing in a dark tunnel and not being able to see any light but eventually the burrowing becomes tiresome and you just want to give up. Even returning to work is extremely appealing at this moment despite it being extremely stressful. So what does that say about me! Well I know it tells me that this journey was really long and there is nothing I want more than to return to my normal life. I have now seen the Oncologist for the last time, unless I develop any unusual symptoms in the last 3 weeks of Chemo and that is definitely something worth celebrating!
The last 3 weeks and weekend have been like this, despite trying to get clarification on things and trying to resolve issues, I realised that I can’t do this alone and if people are not willing to meet me half way, then what am I doing, just banging my head against a brick wall. So the definition of insanity comes to mind, ‘doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different outcome’. This had to stop, I no longer want to do the same thing over and over so I took some control. There are some situations in life which you cannot change because others are unwilling to compromise and without compromise no 2 people can build a relationship of any sort. future.
One of the first steps of the 12 step program is admitting that we are powerless over alcohol and out lives had become unmanageable. I realised whilst attending Al Anon that you could apply this step to any situation in life and that is exactly what I did with the cancer and any other situation that has occurred since. The acceptance of being powerless allowed me to accept that I have no control over what is happening and therefore I am powerless. Being powerless, to me, meant that I am not in control of what is happening to me but what I can control is how I deal with the situation because I am in control of what I eat, what help I access and how I manage my own emotions and I am learning everyday about myself and who I have become during this journey.
Some of the things I have learned about myself through this journey is that I am actually important. As an Asian woman of my generation I was brought up to focus on everybody else except myself, to put my fathers and mothers needs first, to put my brothers needs first, to put the family first, to put my husband’s needs first and then as a mother to put my children’s needs before my own. Now I am putting my own needs first, not by being selfish but being assertive and looking after myself. So on that note I highly recommend acupuncture to anyone who is going through the menopause. I have now had 3 sessions where needles are inserted into pressure points on m y feet and legs and albeit I am still having hot flushes they are much calmer than they were originally and less frequent. The other therapy I would highly recommend is reflexology, not only is it extremely relaxing but it’s also extremely therapeutic. If you live in London or the surrounding counties and you have breast cancer you can access these therapies at the Breast Cancer Haven. The clinic is a charitable organisation and an excellent resource for anyone suffering with this condition and you can find more information about the clinic in the following article that was written by my friend who attended the induction with me and on their website. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/breast-cancer-haven-all-helen-moss-black?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_inshare%3BRNjOHqJkR%2Fip6jt%2BS1sVyQ%3D%3D
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