Monday, October 21, 2013

The Cancer Blog: Recovery Month 3

On Wellness

Today is Day 308 since I have been diagnosed with cancer, and Day 98 living with chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), a side-effect of chemo treatment.This is the second monthly installment of my  post-chemo recovery phase; I did post anything for the month of September.

Adapting To Unexpected Changes
I’ve always associated the moment of writing with
a moment of lift, of joy, of unexpected reward.”
Seamus Heaney

It’s good to be back, to return to writing again, it being one of my great joys in life, this despite having an acute awareness that the physical part of writing is not as easy as it once was—my neuropathy being the chief reason why this is so. My mental abilities seem as sharp as ever, although I could be mistaken.

It, the neuropathy, that is, has become so much a part of me, now that it has been with me, so to speak, for more than three months, and the expectation—made from reading both medical literature and anecdotal sources—is that it will persist for at least a year, probably longer. Since there is nothing that the medical community can do to better my condition, I have learned to live with it and its pervading and invading influences. It has been a change. 

I have spoken to an occupational therapist (OT), who could only offer suggestions on how to reduce the high level of sensitivity that I feel when touching various surfaces, notably cotton and linens. I find that wearing socks at night does help. As does wearing gloves during cold weather; although the OT said it would be better for my recovery if I did not always wear gloves or socks. I find that it gives me a protective barrier and I feel better; she said it might delay my recovery. Some decisions are hard to make, but are necessary for our survival and our sanity. 

It is also interesting to note human adaptability, e.g., before July, I had never heard of the word, neuropathy, and now we are on intimate terms. I would like to return to a more fuller,  normal use of my limbs by the summer, if only to rise to the tennis challenge of my friend, Jack; I owe him a good game or two.  I am sure that Jack will be the victor, since I haven't touched a tennis racquet in a number of years and he has done that and more, from what he has told me, playing quite often. I used to be a good, competitive player in my younger years.

There is some good news, however: my last CT scan in September  was all clear; and on October 30th, I am scheduled for minor surgery to remove my port-a-cath, which was inserted into my main artery in February for my chemo treatments. I also have two appointments at the end of the year, one another CT scan (they are monitoring my lungs carefully) and the other with Dr. Chan, my medical oncologist, to discuss the results.

Some of the subjects I would like to raise in the next few months include the  status of my continuing battle (or struggle with bureaucracy) with the provincial government of Ontario for a disability pension, which dates to April 2013; and the views I hold almost one year after first being diagnosed, noting that all things, particularly changes to our health tend to shape our thoughts and emotions. Even so, despite whatever difficulties I face, what often keeps me going is my family and friends, my love of writing and the community surrounding it,  and the knowledge of the many stories that I have read on the persevering human spirit.

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