Sunday, October 28, 2007

How does it feel?

85 Geysers and our shadows, originally uploaded by annemariew.

It's been eight days since radiotherapy ended.

So how are you? How does it feel?

I actually feel bloody great most of the time. But when I stop to think about what leftovers and after effects I can still point to, the list is longer than it feels:

1. A tender right boob. It's easing up but it still feels like a ripe fruit ready to burst.

2. A very sore nipple. My right nipple seems to be permanently alert. I hope it calms down or else I am destined for a lifetime of embarrassing moments in T-shirts. The pigmentation of my right nipple also looks very strange post-rads. The top layer of cells have peeled, so the main area is paler than it usually is, but with an extra dark pigmentation rimming it. I now remember seeing nipples like this in a book I was given by the breast surgeon right at the beginning of the process and assuming the strange looking nipples were down to some sort of reconstruction surgery. Yet it seems it's just a radiation nip-tan. Rather than a surgical nip-tuck.

3. Peeling skin. My armpit has calmed down, but the bottom side of my boob (the area that got 'boosted' for a week) is still peeling. Nice.

4. A square of radiation burn. It's fading but I can still see the reddish outline of the radiation area. Something I will be doing my best to hide from the sun in a couple of weeks time, or else I will be in real trouble.

5. Obviously, the lumpectomy scar and the lymph node partial excision scar should get a mention.

6. The hard nodule of my portocath under its own personal scar on the left side of my chest. Watching people squirm as I make them feel it is still my favourite party trick and ALMOST a good argument for keeping it in there...

7. My short short short yet growing hair.

8. The fact that while most of my armpit hair has been growing healthily (to my annoyance...) since I came off chemo, the bottom half of my right armpit hair patch just isn't there. This area fall within the radiotherapy zone, so it hasn't had a chance to grow yet. It's the weirdest thing, looking at a half-hairy armpit. That's side has been left hairy for the moment given the ban on using razors. I shall be breaking that soon. Beach holidays and hairy armpits they do not mix.

9. My right ankle is still prone to twinges and I'm still not really able to wear heels, three months on from falling down the stairs on a particularly mongy chemo day. I'm starting to break myself in gently with the odd outing in low heels - but I can't seem to take more than a couple of hours before my achilles starts to quake...

10. Back to hair regrowth. There's a certain area of my anatomy which is regrowing quite healthily, in most places. I just have a disturbing lack of regrowth in the MIDDLE of this zone. So all the bits that I spend time and energy 'dealing with' are going great guns but there's a bloody great big darien gap in the middle. I'm hoping that, in time, it will fill out. Otherwise I will be left with a bald patch for life, which is a very disturbing thought. I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that all that hair removal over the years has made the roots on the sides more resilient, and the poor roots in the centre have never been put under stress until chemo. Poor things - they didn't know what had hit them and they still don't believe it's safe to come out.

But I can jog up stairs; eat slightly out of date cheese and not spend the next 48 hours in pain; catch a regular cold and just snotter along with the rest of them without turning febrile; travel on the train without having to hold on with both hands and beg people with my eyes for their seats; have as much natural yoghurt as I like; book nights out with people without having to deliver a caveat of 'only if I feel ok'.

So the external tell-tale signs may still be there, but I'm feeling increasingly normal on the inside.


Elizabeth Stock said...

It has been 23 days since my last rads treatment and yesterday I proclaimed that I actually almost felt "normal". My arm and boob wasn't so swollen, the rads tan was almost gone and I now "know" when I am tired - if that makes any sense. The only constant reminder is my hair, which seems to thicken each passing day. I think I will google when I can get extensions...

Anyway, glad to hear you are on the mend - it will happen soon that you will be able to say "I feel normal!" xo b

Anne-Marie Weeden said...

I'm want to grow mine long again (I probably wasn't as long as you from the pix I've seen, but definitely past the shoulders) but in a strange way I'm really looking forward to the huge variety of styles that will be open to me over the next two years... To go intentionally from long to short means you have to be pretty sure about the style suiting you and really prefer it. It's not just enough to fancy a bit of a change. But now, I have license to mess around and try everything with the perfect excuse if it doesn't work out!

Enjoy CA - we're off to India in a fortnight on our 'post-treatment-treat'....