I’ve been quiet on the blog front recently as there hasn’t been much to report on. I have a few health and fitness related posts I’ve started but they are waiting to be finished on a rainy day. Make hay while the sun is shining and all that. I am currently on a chemo week and I have one more course planed in 3 weeks. This consists of taking 6 tablets every morning and a short IV drip later in the day for 5 days. Ive been handling it really well but I still feel a bit groggy as it has an accumulated effect, and its been a tough slog this last 18 months. After the next round I have another scan and a decision is made on what direction to take. This is really frustrating and tough to live with. I keep moving forwards and try not to think about the future and just focus more on the present. Easier said than done of course.
Up till about a week ago Ive been doing tremendously, but I over did it. I’ve had to calm it down completely on my right arm and not push myself to get so much done. The combination of weight training again, daily yoga, racing twice a week on the boat, running around everywhere like a blue assed fly and pushing myself to finish a few projects I’ve started made me feel pretty run down. Im going to have to accept that I will probably look like a crab for the rest of my life with a one crushing claw and a smaller pincer claw. Or like the tennis player Nedal, with his one beefy serving arm! What was once my weak arm is slowly becoming my dominant arm. Ive almost mastered left handed throwing although I still feel conscious of the fact I now throw like a small girl. Even my dog winces when I throw a ball for him.
I had a nasty fall off my bike on the way to chemo three weeks ago and I think it took it out of me a lot more than I originally thought. I had a few deep grazes which lead me to taking antibiotics as a precaution to avoid any infection whilst my immune system was suppressed. I was so angry at myself after landing on my bad shoulder, and it wasn’t funny at the time. Its my own fault for trying to be too hipster and getting a fixed gear bike as a little run around. First time I rode it I got about 5 mins away from my house and I though ‘right lets open this puppy up and see what it can do’. It was 10 seconds later I realised that the pedals carry on going the same speed the bike is going. I was going pretty fast and tried to stop peddling to absorb some bumps and the pedals sent me flying to the concrete. Now I’ve flipped the tyre around it can coast and its less of a death trap. I don’t want to set fire to it and launch it off a cliff like a hammer thrower as much anymore. I was extremely lucky that my shoulder seemed fine afterwards but I still wanted to get it checked just to be safe, and I was due a catch up with the surgeon anyway. Its been sore anyway from over doing the physical activity. I just put the pain and twinges down as the norm after major shoulder surgery and mentally swept them under the carpet.
So last week after my usual pre chemo check up and blood tests at Southampton Hospital I made the drive up to London to see my surgeon the next day at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore. This is where I was diagnosed 18 months ago and had my operation last September. An Xray on my shoulder revealed there is what appears to be a gap that has formed around the long pin that goes down into the centre of my humerus (see attached before and after). I was really hoping that there was nothing wrong but hopefully this isn’t anything too serious. I immediately asked if it was cancer related and he said no. What my surgeon thinks it could be is ongoing bone weakening from all the radiotherapy I had last June/July. Some of the possible side effects of radiotherapy are increased risk of more cancer, painful burns and it also weakens bones within the area being scanned. It would appear what worked for Bruce Banner hasn’t worked for me. Damn Hollywood lies!! There are never any good side effects like “I’m sorry Julian but this type of chemo will make your penis double in size and give you 20/20 vision”. Anyway, the other thing it could be, and they cant ignore, is the possibility of an infection. Apart from feeling a bit run down I’m not showing any sign of infection so they want to get me back in 6-8 weeks for another scan to see if its progressing. If it has come loose then they will have to cut me open again, clear the hole out and re-cement the prostheses in place. It was a big relief to hear that my little trip on the bike wouldn’t have caused this but I still went away very concerned and worried. After a few days of stressing about it Ive calmed down now. The main thing keeping me calm is the confidence I have in my surgeon as he said he is not worried. Not thinking about it is easier said than done when Im living with it 24/7, even more so now I have an image to associate the pain to. Every time I get pain I can associate it to the image where as before I fobbed it off as normal pain. Ignorance is bliss. Thought I would have learnt my lesson not to ignore pain by now.
Some of you may be aware of the Hickman line I have dangling out my chest hidden under my top. It’s what they administer the IV chemo through and any antibiotics, if I were to have a neutropenic episode. It is the bane of my life. I found out recently that there is this thing called a portacath that goes in my vein, under the skin and can be easily accessed with a needle time and time again. You can even go swimming with it in! Ive asked for one and really hope I can have one. Also I wont have to constantly keep my top on because of being insecure about the dangling lines and I don’t want to make kids run away screaming. Everyone says “ahh don’t be silly” but you try walking around with tubes dangling out your chest. Its a very difficult look to pull off! Ive always been a water baby so it will make me so happy to get back in the sea and maybe even get rid of this dodgy t-shirt tan! Not sure why I have only been offered this now after having these annoying lines hanging out of me for 18 months. Potentially no more weekly line cleans and daily dressing changes, it seems like a no brainer to me. I cant f*cking wait for the day I don’t need any kind of direct access to my blood stream! Fingers crossed its not too far over the horizon.