I was at a friends cancer charity event over the weekend. It was a classic wooden boat show honoring my friend's mom. I got there early in the morning, well early for me on a weekend, and set up banners for the radio station that I work for and was going to do call ins to the radio station to let our listeners know about this cool event. The weather was beautiful and the boat show was a success, they raised a decent amount of money for a first annual event. My friend was happy that I was able to help out and invited me to the after party at 7pm, which was about 3 and a half hours from then. While I really wanted to go, I couldn't. While I had finished up my treatments on December 29th 2007, the side effects of cancer and chemo are still there.
We were wrapping up when the fatigue hit me. I don't usually get tired easily anymore but this sneaks up on me, kind of like that annoying uncle at your family bbq who comes up behind you and hugs you and knocks the wind right out of you. That is one of my side effects if I push myself, and sometimes I don't even think I am pushing myself until that happens, like uh uh, nope sorry, you are having too much fun, and you are feeling too much like yourself, so WHAM, there you go. The only way to counteract that is to lay down or nap. So no after party for me.
After leaving I went home to lay down. When the fatigue happens and I lay down, it is like my body is saying ahhh ok now lets try to relax, but relax to me and relax to my body are apparently two different things. I picture relaxing as just laying in bed and listening to some good relaxing music, like George Winston or Vivaldi, my body decides to let me know just how much I pushed it today, but making it feel like almost every nerve ending is awake and alive. Not easy to relax at that point, but eventually this ceases and I am able to nap.
The last little constant reminder is neuropathy. The Mayo clinic.com defines it as "Peripheral neuropathy, in its most common form, causes pain and numbness in your hands and feet. The pain typically is described as tingling or burning, while the loss of sensation often is compared to the feeling of wearing a thin stocking or glove." (Ironically I got this little side effect AFTER I was done with chemo, yeah, ha ha good one...)
Yeah that is what I have, I used to have it only on my right side in my hand and my leg. I don't have it in my hand anymore, but I still have it in my foot, it does feel like a tingling sock. It used to run up my leg and hurt, but now it just tingles and my foot occasionally goes numb, it doesn't hurt and it usually doesn't stop me from doing things, although I decided to opt out of a 5k that my friend and I were going to do in a couple of months, that and the fact I had no time to train were my deciding factors.
Tonight I will go to bed and lay there and as I drift off to sleep my right foot will tingle and be my little constant reminder of what I have been through.
I know I am lucky, if I miss a party or two because of this then that is ok, yes it is frustrating, but I can wake up in the morning and know every day I am getting back to "normal" or at least the new normal that all of us cancer survivors understand.