Having your last chemo treatment is like the last snowstorm in March. Since you know winter is almost over, it seems more manageable, even if it’s a messy, hard storm. I had my last treatment on Monday. It was surreal when the nurses hugged me and I told them “no offense, but I hope to never see you guys again!” They responded that they’d be glad to see me in the future only if we weren’t at the Cancer Center. 😀
The first couple of days, I had the usual mild nausea that accompanies the slowing of my digestive system from the Taxol. The good news was no Neulasta shot the day after chemo! That saved me from the flu-like feeling and the sore, stiff neck, shoulders and back that I usually get from the shot. I woke Wednesday morning with numb fingers and thumbs- from the tips down to about halfway to the first interphalangeal joint of each digit. The knee and leg pain began that day as well. It’s been interesting how the side effects have been a little different with each treatment.
So, unlike what the doctor believed, the Neulasta injection was not the cause of my severe joint and bone pain. I realize I am a sample size of 1 (n=1) which means in a statistical test, the degrees of freedom = 0 (df = n-1), so this is not a statistically valid research sample. However, I believe I can state with at least some amount of certainty that the Taxol alone was the cause of my severe joint and bone pain – it was not the Neulasta, nor an interaction between the Taxol and Neulasta. It was simply the Taxol.
The pain is nearly gone now- still some random shooting pains in my leg bones- 6 days after the treatment. And I am still suffering from a bit of numbness- it has changed from numbness to more of the tingling and pain – the best I can explain it is that if you’ve ever played a guitar enough to get callouses on the tips of your fingers- it felt like that at first, but it included my thumbs and went further up my digits than that. The bottoms of my feet also went slightly numb. After a couple days the feeling started to slowly come back a little- but they are painful and tingling – shooting pains in my finger bones and toes. It’s jarring and very irritating and annoying. The tingling can sometimes feel like how it feels when someone scrapes their fingernails on a chalkboard – it’s very uncomfortable.
A friend at work told me how she still suffered a little from it five years after her treatment ended. I had been feeling grateful that each time I’ve had slightly different effects, so that it didn’t seem to want to stick in any one place. I had thought maybe that would mean that mine wouldn’t be permanent. Now I’m thinking that since it’s my last treatment- this could be the side effect that sticks around and I certainly don’t want this numbness in my fingers and feet for the rest of my life. I feel off. I am a little wobbly when I walk, and my fingers are so bothersome that it is hard to do normal things, like type on a computer, sew, wash dishes, etc. (not that I stopped doing those things, but I am extremely irritated and clumsy when doing them). I am still hopeful though that, like with the other treatments, this side effect will also go away.
What I have found though, as with other treatments, that when the bone pain starts- it is helpful to keep moving. The more I sit still to rest, the worse the pain seems to be. So Tim and I took a bike ride one night and it hurt like hell to get going, but once we were riding for a bit, it eased up and really helped relieve the pain for a little while. And it felt good to be active and moving.
By Thursday though, I was in such pain that I decided to work from home on Friday (I had been going into the office all week since a lot of our management team was out for training and I wanted to be there in case there were any issues). It helped a lot to not have the commute and to not have to walk around the office. The pain has been easing up since then and I am walking almost normally now.
As I drove the kids into karate Friday night though, I cried a little. Self pity. My fingertips are just so bothersome, and I was tired and was feeling some tummy issues again. 😦 At the end of winter- sometimes you are just so worn out and ground down that even the last snowstorm of the season is too much to bear with a smile. We spent the evening with some dear friends while the kids had movie night at karate, and that cheered me up tremendously. No time to feel sorry for myself- that surgery thing that I’ve been avoiding thinking about will be coming up next. I’ve gotta get prepared for that.
Tonight, I took a 2 mile bike ride with Chris and Rea. I may be slow, but it felt good to be moving in the beautiful Fall weather.