Nerve repair over the last 6 months has been quite slow compared to the first few months post op, which is probably to be expected. The slow down in progress was the reason why I decided not to post updates every week after a while, but now that it’s nearly one year since my op, I thought it was time to check things out again.
The photo shows where the numb area was in week 14 (3 months post op), to where it is now (11 months post op). Quite a lot of regained sensation over the year which is great.
Lets see how things progress in a months time.
Since the start of the year I’ve become increasingly anxious about my first annual check up, which is now less than 2 weeks away.
3 weeks ago I could feel the pressure mounting and with the stress of working 12 days back to back and longer hours in general without a break, I had to get away and fast. Luckily I had a strong feeling this was going to be the case at the start of the year so had booked 2 weeks off work before Easter in order to take some time out and a break away from the norm.
If you’ve ever been on a post cancer workshop you will know that they strongly recommend planning in to your daily routine things such as exercise, being with friends, doing things for you, having some quiet time and being out in nature. This was exactly how I planned my time off, with something fun and/or relaxing to do pretty much every day. Long walks in the country, climbing trees, hugging trees, having fun with friends and trying new things. With no internet connection and not checking my phone every 10 minutes, it was certainly in that respect, just what the doctor ordered.
All I hope now is that I can continue to feel calmer in the run up to the hospital appointment over the next 2 weeks.
5 months ago (following on from some research I’d done online about how to keep my immune system in tip top condition during the winter months), I came across an article by Dr John Douillard, which recommended an herb called Ashwagandha. I’d never heard of it before but a Google search revealed an image of a plant I did recognise. Funnily enough it was one which my Gran used to grow in her garden, which she referred to as ‘Chinese Lanterns’ (we used to use them in dried flower arrangements and I’ve also from time to time had them served to me as a garnish in restaurants).
Somewhat sceptical, I thought I would give it a go in capsule form, as adding the herb to my diet didn’t seem particularly feasible. I also decided to take half the recommended dosage, just to see what affect it would have if any.
Not really noticing any difference at all I had already decided not to buy any more when they ran out. They ran out 10 days ago and not only have I suddenly picked up the worst cold I have had in years but also my sense of well-being has plummeted too. Now this could be a coincidence, so I’ve been back online to do some further research in to the herb. Here’s what I’ve found…
Benefits of Ashwagandha:
- Aiding in wound care
- Aids sleep
- Boosts energy
- Decreases cancer cells without adversely affecting healthy cells
- Fights off cold and cough symptoms
- Pain relief
- Lowers cholesterol
- Regulates blood sugar
- Reduces depression and anxiety
- Combats stress
Some people also use Ashwagandha for improving thinking ability and preventing the effects of aging. It acts neither as a stimulant nor as a sedative; because it can both boost energy and support better sleep.
Needless to say I already have another order on its way. I will be sticking to my half measures however as that seems to be enough for me to receive the necessary benefits. Please do your own research on this before taking Ashwagandha because as with anything, there are always going to be precautions and side-effects that need to be considered. I just wanted to share with you something that had worked incredibly well for me.
(Source: Life Spa, Chopra, Web MD, Natural News, Conscious Life News)
I love my house, its my sanctuary, my safe haven away from the world and that’s never been more so than in the last few months.
I love my bed too, its where I can feel comfortable, relaxed and can switch off. Or at least that’s what I thought.
This morning, I woke to a throbbing hand and pins and needles. Why? Because my head had fallen on to it and was cutting off the blood supply!
Panicking, I flexed my fingers rapidly and elevated my arm, stroking the skin away from my hand and towards my armpit. Luckily, it seems fine.
The worrying thing is, is that there seems to be nowhere which is truly safe, away from hazards or mishaps. I have to be mindful about everything and that is exhausting. If I cant relax when I’m asleep when can I!?
I cant think of any tip right now I can give myself with this one. Suggestions welcome!
Note: 2 weeks on, I’m still experiencing mild pins and needles occasionally. It did however take 3 days for the initial bout to subside. Scary stuff but I think everything is ok.
Now I’m back at work full time its been difficult to find the time to write blog posts but when a change management communication was distributed at work, it resonated with me so much I just had to include it in the blog.
When it comes to change management it doesn’t get much bigger than a cancer diagnosis. I never for one moment imagined the impact it would have on me and how far reaching that would be either. I remember making plans for “when this is all over, lets…” but things didn’t work out that way as I hurtled through a distressing set of circumstances and corresponding range of emotions.
Apparently how we deal with a change depends on the type of people we are. I’m risk averse, I don’t like change either and I certainly don’t like things being out of my control. Not a great combination when it comes to cancer.
Some people thrive on the challenge of something new, others like myself, worry about it and can become very negative. If we feel valued and supported however during the period of change, we are more likely to adapt quickly and be more open to accept what needs to be done.
Theory suggests we go through a number of stages when faced with a big change:
The initial reaction can sometimes be shock as we fear the unknown. This stage is normally brief.
This was back when I’d been for my scan and then had been called back immediately. Nothing had been confirmed but the radiographer simply said “This must have come as quite a shock”. What!? I thought, you haven’t told me anything! I then had to wait two weeks before the diagnosis was confirmed.
This is when we stay focused on the past and the way things used to be. Fearing the new we might continue to do things the way we always have.
I didn’t feel any different and I certainly didn’t think what I had was terminal. It just felt like I had to go for an operation to have something mildly irritating removed, nothing more. I didn’t feel ill, didn’t think I looked ill, so how could anything really be wrong?
Denial turns to anger and we look for someone to blame for the change.
I will probably remember this day for the rest of my life. One week post op, the results of the surgery were in. I was told that they had made a mistake and over treated me. My lymph nodes were healthy and didn’t need to be removed. My whole world caved in and I blamed the medical team for treating me like a number – someone on a conveyor belt, with no concern for the consequences of their actions.
Once we realise that change is going to happen we are at our lowest. The criticism we showed during the anger phase increases and we become fixated on the problems rather than the change.
I slipped in to depression, turning up at the cancer centre and exclaiming “They’ve broken me, mentally!” It has taken quite a while to get through this stage and at times I slip back. I desperately wanted my old life back but thought that things could never be the same. I didn’t like “me” any more and I didn’t see how anyone else could. There were too many things that had changed, things that I had to give up or at least that’s what I thought. I was desperately trying not to drag others down with me and so would shut the world out and those I care about in a bid to save them from what was happening. I have to say that looking back on this now, although I had good intentions at heart and was convinced I was doing the right thing, it didn’t actually help me or anyone else.
We accept that change is happening and may even feel relief that things aren’t actually as bad as we thought.
This is where I am right now, 6 months on, somewhere between accepting what has happened and trying to make changes to the way I live my life.
Change has taken place and we have learned to adapt and live with it.
Understanding these stages helps to identify the sort of support we need. No two people will go through the six stages at the same speed . Those that like change and see it as a challenge may go from stage 1-6 quicker than those who dislike change who can get stuck at stages 1-4 for a considerable amount of time.
I’ve been getting unusual sensations in my affected arm for the last 7 days so the question is…
What do I do now if this is the start of Lymphoedema!?
Ok, first and foremost, don’t panic! The sooner it’s treated the better the outcome. This is what I’m going to do…
- Call the Breast Care Nurse and explain what I’ve been experiencing and for how long. Arrange to see the hospital’s lymphoedema specialist.
- Call my MLD therapist and tell him all of the above and bring my monthly appointment forward.
- Continue with my rebounding workout because it’s a great lymph mover and keeps my arm supple.
- Revisit the YouTube links on SLD (simple lymphatic drainage).
- Throughout the day do the post-op physiotherapy exercises whenever I can. Aim to do these at least 3 times a day now.
- Take a flask of boiling water to work with me so I can de-congest my lymph whilst at my desk.
- Put sliced lemon in my filtered water whenever possible.
- Make sure I eat one banana a day.
- Drink pineapple juice.
- Move my grounding mat from my PC to my bed so I can get the benefit whilst I sleep.
At the moment I think that’s the best I can do whilst waiting to see the specialists.
Not sleeping and feeling stressed? Not sure what to do? Well it seems there is something we can all do that’s free, fun and makes us not only feel happy but can reduce our stress levels, make us less anxious and depressed and boost our immune systems too. What is it? Hug! All we have to do is hug! Apparently 8 good hugs a day is recommended.
A proper deep hug, where hearts are pressing together, has the following benefits:
- The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with open and honest communication.
- Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.
- Holding a hug for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.
- Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the solar plexus chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.
- Hugging boosts self-esteem. When we were babies touch showed us that we were loved and special. Those associations of self-worth and tactile sensations are still embedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received as children remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self love.
- Hugging relaxes muscles, releasing tension in the body and can take away pain by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.
- Hugs balance out the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system – parasympathetic.
- Hugs teach us how to give and receive. There is equal value in receiving and being receptive to warmth, as to giving and sharing. Hugs educate us how love flows both ways.
- Hugs, like meditation and laughter, teach us to let go and be present in the moment by getting us out of our circular thinking patterns and connecting us with our hearts, feelings and breath.
- The energy exchange between people hugging encourages empathy and understanding.
Source: Mind, Body, Green, BBC News and The Mail Online