Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Of all the nerves

This has been a hard week- and it is only Tuesday.  Preceding all chemotherapy appointments, you must do blood work and meet with your oncologist.  These precautions are necessary to insure that it safe to continue chemotherapy and also to help with any side effects that you are experiencing.  My biggest side effect at this point is neuropathy.

Peripheral neuropathy is damage to the nerves of the peripheral nervous system.  At first I noticed some burning sensations in my finger tips - interspersed with the feeling that my fingers and toes had fallen asleep.  Currently, three toes on my left foot and two toes on my right foot are completely numb and tingling - all of the time.  My fingertips also have periods of numbness, but it is intermittent.  The bottom of my feet are also sore, making walking difficult.  I can not go barefoot because the sensitivity is unbearable.  My legs are extremely sore which also make walking challenging.  I am generally very flexible, and have no problem laying a flat palm on the floor without bending my legs.  At this point, I can barely bend over with fingertips dangling at my shins.  The leg pain is also constant and it radiates through out my thighs and calves.  In addition my legs, ankles, and fingers are swollen.  And to top if all off, my right eyelid is twitching like mad.  Sounds like fun, right?

So, of course I mention these symptoms to the nurse practitioner, who I have to say is awesome, because my oncologist is away on vacation this week.  She tells me that it is concerning and proceeds to do some tests that involve pricking me in the foot with a sharp object.  I could feel the pressure of the object, but not that it was sharp.  This coupled with the fact that the pain is now constant in my feet and legs, had her questioning whether or not we should proceed with chemotherapy.  She spoke with the other oncologist on duty who agreed.  No more chemo.  If  I continued, the neuropathy would only get worse.  Chances are good that I would end up in a wheelchair.  And these side effects can often take a year to dissipate after chemotherapy.  In my heart, I know this is the right thing to do.  I can't imagine the symptoms I already have lasting a year- and I super can't imagine them getting worse!  It is already challenging to do the things I need to do in my life as it is.  But, I have to say my heart was broken.

I wanted to soldier through- fight every battle to defeat this thing that has invaded my body.  I worry that with each thing that I can not do, the odds become less in my favor.  And although I am trying very hard to put things in a more healthy perspective, I feel a bit betrayed by my body.   I also didn't like the fact that I had no idea my last chemotherapy session was my last one.  It came and went with little fanfare.  Had I known, I would have celebrated, given roses to the nurses, taken photographs and videos documenting my heroism.  This ending of chemotherapy that I am currently faced with feels so anti-climactic.  I feel defeated.

So, I am trying to find the silver lining and reframe this setback as something different.  Trusting that my body held on for as long as it needed until every cancer cell was destroyed.  Trusting my body as it twitched and tingled, burned and ached to warn me that it was time to stop. Taking pleasure in this gift of the month of December, where I can celebrate the holidays with my children free of nausea and exhaustion.  And getting myself ready for the next step on this journey.


  1. Sending you ::strength, peace, happiness, and health::
    My thoughts are with you in this and hope for the best.

  2. dear beautiful you,
    no words tonight, just a desire to be close to you. to shoulder some of the weight of all this. to simply sit and listen so you know you are never alone. love you dear.

  3. Mariposa, thank you for your art and also your thoughts. I sometimes find myself on the dark side but thankfully silver linings or a bit of good news (news like decent blood counts that those not with BC would not understand necessarily as good news) somehow brings me back from what I call the dark side. I will imagine you with your two beautiful children, enjoying your Christmas celebrations.
    :) Marian