Update On My Journey
Last updated: January 2021
An update on my journey and battle with blood cancer continues. To date, four infusions of R-CHOP have been completed and the latest scans show that the cancer appears to be retreating nicely. I learned recently that several of the nodes have completely disappeared and the remainder are decreasing rapidly. The hope is that the next 2 treatments will see cancer in remission.
As I continue to document my treatment journey with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, I wanted to pass on a few personal observations that may help others on this crooked path.
It was not until I completed my fourth infusion that the numbness (neuropathy) in my fingertips became more noticeable. While the sensation is clearly there it has not caused significant issues with routine tasks except for making the buttoning of some shirts more of a challenge.
Trouble with constipation
I have mentioned significant R-CHOP induced constipation in the past. Fortunately, time, diet, softeners, and laxatives have been effective. While I cautiously say that it is under control, I will say the quantities need to “grease the skids” are sometimes breadth taking.
My latest problem: Cramping
The latest wrinkle has been the arrival of significant leg cramps and cramping in my forearms. These events are quite challenging and unlike any “Charlie horses” I have had in the past. In addition to needing to jump out of bed at 3 AM to walk out or massage the cramps, I was growing increasingly concerned with my lack of sleep. It is difficult enough to get a good night's sleep when you are on chemotherapy but then add in a jolt of pain running down your leg and toes after two and a half hours of sleep and you have all the making of a fun filled evening.
For variety, sometimes the pain starts in my toes and works its way up my leg. Most interesting was that my toes were curling up vs down. In addition to making walking out the cramps at 3 AM more difficult, it is amazing to see how observant you can be at that hour of the morning.
I finally met with my oncologist’s nurse prior to next week’s infusion number five. As we chatted about my cramps, she offered several potential solutions that might help stop leg pain. The first suggestion was to drink more water. As I am already consuming between 70 and 90 ounces of water a day, she suggests another possible “solution.” I might want to try leg stretches prior to going to bed. Sounds good, except I am already doing that. She then mentions that I might want to increase my magnesium and potassium intake. She tells me to eat more bananas and have some chocolate. Chocolate? Who knew chocolate can be a good source of magnesium? She certainly had my attention until she says to eat it in moderation along with a banana for the potassium.
She noted that my issue might be traced back to a low level of electrolytes in my system due to the high concentrations of water I was consuming. While I'm not here to make recommendations or offer medical advice on how to increase the level of electrolytes in your system a trip to a sporting goods store might reveal a variety of products that can be mixed with water to boost your electrolyte levels. After I doubled up on my electrolyte tablet intake and had a square of chocolate, my leg cramps disappeared.
While we all react differently to chemotherapy and react differently to various solutions, when all is said and done – you have to love any nurse who says, “have some chocolate for your health and leg cramps.”
How do you feel about your support system?