Peripheral Neuropathy is a common side effect of the taxane based chemotherapy regimes – numbness and tingling of fingers and toes that usually extends further with each cycle, but in most cases the issue remains mild and transient. In my case it was mainly toes that got affected, it started from the baby toes and luckily didn’t go much further past the middle section, four courses of paclitaxel went and the symptoms started to improve.
Numb fingers meant that my handwriting got worse but it had been bad enough already – the scribbles just got a bit more artistic, let’s say, and just a bit less legible but hey, that silly quill to paper business is so over now with the keyboards and touchscreens. Typing might have been a bit of an issue too, I think, but autocorrect saved the day on few occasions 😀
Swollen Appendage – yikes!
It’s funny how realisations get delayed in the surreal world of chemo. I did not quite realise that my feet were affected until I went to a yoga class, all defiant with my picc line covered by a cut off sock, and nearly wobbled face to floor attempting a warrior pose, it was likely warrior two, but it could have been anything else that needed some basic balance, like a … low lunge LOL. Same with the handwriting, I just got used to guessing what I had written here and there, when suddenly last week I realised that my control over pen somehow got back to normal. 10 month after the last paclitaxel there is a chance that people will now be able to read their birthday cards. Shame about my post it notes that would now lose their awesome Picasso style appeal.
Swollen Appendage – yikes!
It’s totally different with the foot treated to the full weight of the London black cab, okay front wheel only, but still. The realisation of not being able to use the foot, transformed into a foreign looking and feeling appendage in seconds, is so instant and the numbness so pronounced that it all puts the super mild chemo peripheral neuropathy in a totally new perspective. The coincidence of my hands getting totally back to normal just as my foot went the other way is just following the basic karma rules, I guess. #silverlinings
Crutches suck big time but it turns out that they happen to have few more uses than the good old getting you from one place to another following an injury – be it a beer holder or a chew toy for your foster rabbit. When you can stand, even if wobbling heavily, on your own two feet again you could even try to pretend it’s a lightsaber or a guitar. Or be the responsible one albeit slightly boring and give them to someone who could use them for, you know, just walking.
rabbit munching on crutches
Of course the crutches could also be used exactly as prescribed which should at least get you better guns once the lower appendage problem is over. I gave up on using both crutches as soon as I got home, with the whole weekend on my own ahead of me I just had to carry stuff every now and then 😉 My foot wasn’t exactly liking it but hey two weeks on and it actually looks like a foot, the ankle is back and it feels like some running can be done following the recommended 6 weeks of recovery. How very reasonable of me! I had to spend some time with my foot iced and elevated and as any reasonable and only moderately anxious person would, I used this time to extensively google compartment syndrome and nonunion – yikes, seems that a week or two extra of wearing the super ugly rubber boot or non-running may be worth it in the long term.
Hobbling around may be a pain but it also provokes smiles and random conversations with strangers – kindness is not dead and people do care! And according to the popular belief in luck due to turn any time soon, I should play the lottery and the win is pretty much mine. If only it really worked like that 🙂
These two photos are not quite connected actually. I ran 10k on Sunday the 10th July and the following Thursday went for a lunchtime jog and got hit by a black cab in the middle of the square mile – I love you London.
As far as silver linings go, this time last year I was in the middle of chemo which felt like a never ending drag so the setback of four weeks on crutches seems doable now, I guess. Do some work from home, ice the foot, drink wine and binge on The Good Wife. Enjoy my whole two 10k medals so far…
And possibly, just as a bit of a warning: WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GOING NEXT TIME 😀