Saturday, December 10, 2011

leaky eyes and fat arm

so i just got kicked off my chemo trial, which consisted of a drug called taxotere. how i got kicked off, you ask. well, apparently my cancer has outsmarted the drug. after 6 rounds it's stopped working. but i'm confident we'll find something else to outsmart the cancer.


so, after "battling" this thing called cancer for 18 months now it's clear there is more to cancer and its treatment. i mean, when you get the news initially that you have cancer you really have no idea what's coming. there are layers upon layers. with chemo there are the typical side effects like losing your hair and fatigue. well, with this particular drug there is what i like to call, leaky eyes. i don't think that's the technical term for it. basically about 2 weeks after getting the drug my eyes literally leak for about 5-7 days. it's crazy. and in big box stores or wind it's especially really bad. they just leak. it's not painful and it's not really that embarrassing, but it's a hassle to have to constantly wipe my eyes. the good thing is that i could be crying and blame it on the leaky eyes. it's just one of those things you don't anticipate in the beginning.

the other thing you don't anticipate early on is what i like to refer to as fat arm. the technical term is lymphedema. when i had my double mastectomy i had 28 lymph nodes removed from under my right arm. i've learned a bit more about my body since this whole thing. and what i've learned is that our lymph nodes, which run throughout our body, help move fluid (very basic knowledge). well, with 28 gone the fluid doesn't get moved and therefore will get sort of trapped in my arm and cause it to swell. hence the fat arm. this is something that is not life-threatening, but could get bad; painful/uncomfortable. but for me it's way more vain than this. i don't want fat arm! one thing that helps is to wear what is called a compression sleeve. it's a flesh colored thick stretchy thing that goes from your fingers to shoulder. it's very tight and i guess it helps squeeze the fluid back out (since my lymph nodes are there to do their job). this thing is hot and i do feel weird wearing it. i mean, most people that wear them are old or obese. i'm neither. but i also don't want really bad fat arm. i decided that i need a glove too so i went to this special store to talk to the lady about getting a glove. she said i'd need to get a different kind of sleeve and have the glove custom made, both costing over $350. seriously?! i'm going to wait and instead go back to the rehabilitation place and get some lymphedema therapy (i.e. massage) for a bit. That really does help. so, if you see a weird flesh colored thing on my arm/hand it's my fat arm defense sleeve, i'm not trying to make some new fashion statement.

it's just been so interesting (is this really the right word?) to see what evolves in this world of cancer. there are so many things that are never "public" and that you don't think about happening to a person. some are very scary and some are just annoying. but they all play a part in this journey. i mean, it's bad enough not to have hair and breasts, but fat arm too?! come on!! but there are a few "benefits" like not having to shave.


kimberlybender said...

I had to wear a compression stocking on my leg for varicose veins and it was SOOO uncomfortable. Can't imagine it on my arm. That stinks. Thanks for letting us in to the "extra" stuff.

nancy said...

Only you.... my dear Amy.... could make me smile with your wit. I'll add the "no fat arm please" to my prayer list. I love you and just send you a hug a day.... I don't want to over do it!
I love you