Wednesday, May 24, 2017

In Sickness and in Health

Peripheral Neuropathy. According to (a go-to website for me these days), “the body's nervous system is divided into two major systems; the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.  The peripheral nervous system is also divided into two major parts, the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system.   The somatic nervous system consists of peripheral nerve fibers that send sensory information to the central nervous system and motor nerve fibers that send signals to skeletal muscle.  The autonomic nervous system controls smooth muscle of the viscera (internal organs) and glands. 

Peripheral neuropathy results from some type of damage to the peripheral nerves.  Certain chemotherapy drugs can cause peripheral neuropathy such as vinca alkaloids (vincristine), cisplatin, paclitaxel, and the podophyllotoxins (etoposide and tenoposide).” 

So, basically, your fingers and toes begin to tingle as if they have fallen asleep. That sensation does not go away and eventually the tips of your fingers and toes go numb to the touch and numb to hot and cold sensations. Your finger and toe nails can turn black, too.  Ugh. And it seems it’s happened to me. Thus, it’s getting progressively more and more difficult to simply button my shirts and tie my shoes. Typing hurts. Getting anywhere near heat (cooking) or cold is hazardous as well since my sense of feeling is shot. Seems the big toe on my right foot has fallen victim. Ugh. I’ve been on a heavy, daily regimen of over-the-counter supplements since we started the 12-week second round of chemo to try and keep the neuropathy at bay: vitamin B-12, B-6, alpha-lipoic acid, and L-glutamine. Perhaps they have chemo drug has simply over-powered the OTAs. Apparently, this may or may not be permanent damage. I sure hope it’s not.

I gotta tell ya, this chemotherapy shit is wearing me down. 20 weeks, 140 days, 8400 minutes.  And I have been taking this ordeal minute by minute. That’s a lot of minutes. A lot of minutes feeling generally and specifically awful. A lot of minutes concerned for my wife’s well-being and how she’s holding up.  A lot of minutes thinking.  A lot of minutes terrified.

However, I can now count the number of treatments I have left on one numb hand – five. As you remember, I got “extra credit” for the one treatment of the special “non-allergic” version of the chemo drug that made my face, tongue and mouth numb (!). That’s the good news in this edition. Always looking for the good news! 

Say, if you get a moment, give my wife a shout of encouragement will ya? She’s not on social media but you can email her at Just a “hello, been thinking about you. You are terrific” kinda email or text. She’s my hero and I know without a shadow of a doubt I would not be here right now if it weren’t for her unrelenting support and determination. I cannot imagine what she's been going through. As I can attest watching her perform numerous Ironman competitions, it's always easier swimming, biking, and running than it is watching on the sidelines and worrying. She officially took me “for better for worse, for sickness and health” just 2 short years ago. Neither of us could have imagined what that vow would really mean. I know it now.

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