Thursday, March 27, 2008

Puppet On A String

Puppet On Strings, originally uploaded by tacksoon.

I've been too high on good results to dwell on the boring side effects of cleaning.

My "hand-job" on the carpet as a result of my vacuum biting the dust (couldn't resist that pun) led to my arm complaining. It started off sore, in the muscles in the upper and lower arm, with pain when I extended it fully or raised it above shoulder level.

I rode down to my bike test, feeling my arm complain at the buffetting it took when just holding the steering straight whilst driving down the A3 at 50 mph.

I try and stretch it every other hour or so in a series of attention-grabbing moves which look like I'm about ten, in a classroom full of kids, and desperate to answer the teacher's question.

Later that week I realise it's getting worse, not better.

Looking down I realise it's now fully swollen. On the inside of my wrist on my (good) left arm I can see the raised profile of my veins. When I bend my hand towards me, they become even more prominent: like a pair of raised train tracks running parallel on a sloping bank.

But when I look down at my inner wrist on my painful right arm I see nothing. Just rounded flesh. Puffy and white. Crooking my hand towards me makes no difference either - it just hurts. As I look up the arm towards my elbow I can see the rising lump formed by my swollen flesh.

And if I stick my fingers in my armpit or the hollow of my elbow, it is not only agony, but I can feel a palpable string or two of hard, painful muscle. Like I am a puppet on a string, but my strings are pulled a little tight.

Yes, it seems this is cording. Proper, proper cording.

The swelling may even indicate a little bit of lymphodema. I keep checking the fingers but the puffiness seems to stop at the wrist.

I am frustrated by it but by taking a LOT of ibuprofen I am starting to see a vast improvement in the swelling. I've also made up my mind to try and stretch it a little less. I don't want to cause more inflammation by overdoing it before it's ready.

But when will it be ready? Most cases of cording are reported within weeks of the original operation but some are said to recur months afterwards. This is obviously falling into the latter camp. Websites talk of it disappearing 'of it's own accord' but patients sometimes needing physio and antibiotics to help it on it's way.

I'm about to disappear to East Africa. Starting a course of physio really isn't viable. But somehow the good results of the scans, the stuff that really matters, seems to make this latest, lingering side-effect of the cancer (that I first felt a year ago yesterday), pale into insignificance.

And do you know what, until I wrote that last sentence, I had forgotten about yesterday's cancerversary. A year to the day that I lay in bed and made R wake up to feel my right boob.

It's significant that I forgot to remember the date, I think. I'm finally losing touch with the notable dates of last year's cancer - a good thing.

From now on, we're writing a new calendar.


Marie said...

You can always go see Dr. Stockley in Kampala to fix that up.

Irene Henning said...

Sorry to hear about your arm and I hope it gets better really soon. Presumably you'll need to be extra careful in Africa with insect bites on that arm.

I've never understood why using it should lead to this, you'd have thought a good workout for the muscles would aid drainage, wouldn't you!