Happy 2016! I hope everyone’s year is off to a good start. May all your hopes and dreams come true.
Tonight I did something I have not done in a very long time…. I cut my fingernails with a nail clipper. I was very sad doing this. You see, I didn’t want to do it, I had to. Oh sure, I file my fingernails and do my own manicures, but to have to actually clip and shorten my nails, was upsetting. My chemotherapy, Taxol, is to blame.
Taxol has burdened me with many unpleasant side effects as I have mentioned in previous posts. Some have disappeared, thankfully, but others are just beginning. This new side effect involves my nails. First, they became discolored and nasty looking with weird lines and second, they have started to fall off. That’s right, fall off!
A few days ago I was shopping for a new shower liner for the kids bathroom at Marshall’s. As I was looking at all the options that were available, an avalanche of the liners fell on my left hand. As I picked them up, and started to put them away, I noticed my index finger nail came off. It didn’t hurt, but ewww, gross! My second nail to fall off, my left thumb nail, fell off yesterday as I was making my bed. The third nail, my right index nail, came off today while unloading the dishwasher. To me, a good excuse not to do any type of housework. The reason for cutting the fingernails short this evening is to hopefully prevent anymore from falling off. Thankfully, all my toenails are intact.
Chemo has taken my hair, my eyebrows, my eyelashes, and now my nails. This is why I have a love/hate relationship with it. Chemotherapy does bad things to the body, but as long as it is doing it’s job of stopping the cancer from progressing, I am willing to cut it some slack.
The side effects unfortunately continue and another recent one, which I will explain next, is the result of surgery performed over five years ago!
My daughter is home for winter break, and we have been doing many things as a family, I absolutely love and cherish these times. One evening we decided to play Yahtzee. I enjoy this game, but was the biggest loser. Mark was the champion, and Max named himself, Michaela and I the UFBD…. United Front to Beat Dad. Mark referred to us as the UFL…United Front of Losers. Yes, this is how we Rosens roll, all about making fun of one another, but more importantly, enjoying spending time with one another.
During the game I noticed my right hand looked a bit puffy. The next morning that hand and arm were swollen. I had a feeling it was lymphedema. Lymphedema refers to swelling that can occur in your hand, arm, breast and leg. It is most commonly caused by the removal of lymph nodes as part of cancer treatment. Lymphedema results from a blockage in your lymphatic system, which is part of our immune system. The blockage prevents lymph fluid from draining, and this fluid buildup causes swelling. There’s no cure for lymphedema. But it can be managed with early diagnosis and diligent care of the affected area.
In August of 2010, I had a lumpectomy and a right axillary dissection, which removed 42 cancerous lymph nodes. I had no symptoms of lymphedema for over five years. I consider this a good run.
Today, I met with a physical therapist for an evaluation. I have stage 1 lymphedema, and was told I caught it early. Since it is a slow process, I will be receiving physical therapy twice a week for three months, to help remove the fluid. During these PT sessions I will receive a massage, learn some exercises, and learn how to bandage my hand and arm. Meanwhile, I purchased some funky compression sleeves and gloves that I will need to wear during the day. Shopping is shopping even if it’s for cool medical supplies.
While 2016 has already presented itself with some health challenges, the year involves travel, which I enjoy very much. Michaela recently turned 21, and I have made plans to celebrate this milestone year with her in Las Vegas, during her spring break. A mother/daughter vacation to make some special memories. It should be an exciting and fun time. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Next up will be California.
My son, Max, who is a high school junior, is very much into technology. He builds robots, and has created two apps that are available on the App Store. Look up his name, and the apps will pop up, if interested. The Emergency app, will be most useful. Max would like to attend school in California for the industry and beautiful weather. Mark and I have decided to take him to look at schools in the San Fransisco and Los Angeles areas during his spring break. I love California and am excited to tour colleges with him. More special memories to be made. The biggie vacation with the whole family this year will be something special.
I missed my European vacation last summer due to my declining health, so this year, we have decided to take a Mediterranean cruise. We will fly into Barcelona, and then sail the sea to Sicily, Capri/Pompei/Naples, Rome, Florence, Marseille, and then Palma de Mallorca. We are booking lots of exciting excursions. I am sure many fond memories will be made.
I am looking forward to having adventure and fun this year, and of course, good health. I have my bone and CT scans next Tuesday, and then will meet with my oncologist on Thursday to discuss results and treatment. Good thoughts are appreciated.
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Below is a photo of me sporting my newest compression sleeve and glove. Pretty cool, I think!