One week to go (and yes, I’m still running!)

November 30, 2010

12 down and 5 to go – one week today I will have my last radiotherapy session – in other words I will FINALLY finish treatment!

So far so good with the radiotherapy. I must admit that I feared the worst with all the information I got about possible side effects. However, my throat is bearing up quite well. It is uncomfortable when I swallow – it feels a bit like someone has stuck a cactus down there which all the food has to edge past, but as long as I stick to soft food and plenty of fluid to wash it down, it is fine.  I haven’t had any skin problems at all so far. My white blood cell count is still low however, so I’m still having to take precautions to avoid infection and I do have sore lungs if I take deep breaths, or when I am outside in the subzero temperatures we are having at the moment, but that is really only a problem when I am running.

Ah yes, I AM still running, but it is proving to be more of a struggle than I had anticipated! In the 4 weeks between finishing chemo and starting radiotherapy my running form had improved quite remarkably. My speed had gradually decreased during the 4 months of chemo to an average of about 60 seconds per km slower than “normal”, but by the time I started radiotherapy had improved to only about 20-30 seconds slower than “normal”. Plus I had stepped up the distance I was able to run too and could manage 12 km in one go.  Now, however, I am back to AT LEAST 60 seconds slower again, maybe even worse, and I struggle through maximum 5 km. Not only that, but my legs are as sore the day after as if I had run 28 km in my pre-chemo days. I am finding this very frustrating! I don’t feel ill like I did when I was having chemo so it doesn’t logically make sense to me that I am struggling so much.  I’m has stubborn as ever, though, so I’m still running 3 times a week as best I can and supplementing with cycling or the cross trainer which aren’t so hard on my body PLUS still weight training 3 times a week. Fingers crossed that I will be able to bounce back just as quickly again when this is over.

While the side-effects of the radiotherapy haven’t hit me has hard as I was fearing, I am still struggling with the peripheral neuropathy in my right hand which came on after my last chemo treatment. Rather than improving, this got worse, though seems to have stabilised now. It bothers me most at night when I usually wake up about 3 times with a pain in my hand so bad that it is very difficult for me to lie still, and painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen have absolutely no effect at all. During the day it is easier to distract myself from the pain, but my thumb is now completely numb and my index and middle fingers partially, making it difficult to do fiddly things like buttons or writing with a pen.  I’ve now started going to an acupuncturist to see if he can help me with this, since conventional medicine apparently can’t help. After the first session I actually had one good night where I didn’t have pain, before reverting to normal, so we’ll see if it helps more if I continue. As if that wasn’t enough, both my hands have become swollen over the last week or so. I have no idea if this is connected to the neuropathy or if it is a side-effect of the radiotherapy, but another thing on my list of things to discuss with the Doctor next week!

But hey, only a week to go and then at least the treatment is over and that cheers me more than I can say!

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