Sunday, June 12, 2011
Shock and Awe
On my second visit to the neurologist last week, she hooked metal loops over my fingers and, with what looked to me like a little cattle prod, shocked my hands and arms repeatedly, maybe thirty times on each arm. The first few shocks caused my entire body to jump, and reduced me to tears. I could feel my nerves aching, vibrating up my arms like over-twanged guitar strings.
It was, to say the least, unpleasant. It did get easier with subsequent shocks but by no means did it become comfortable. I felt like a lab rat, and once that image hit my mind, I was flooded with images of all the indignities I've suffered on this cancer journey, and the tears would not stop coming. (As I write this line, I find myself crying again. My dog, who was just moments ago resting comfortably on the couch downstairs, just trotted upstairs and has begun licking my feet.)
The test showed no evidence of nerve damage. But, the doctor said, it might be too soon to tell. She wanted to do the second test, which would be more definitive, involving needles inserted through the skin of my upper arm, all the way into my muscles, approximately six needles in a single arm. While the needles were in, I was to move my arm in prescribed ways.
The goal, in the neurologist's mind, was to determine if I had nerve damage. Though I would love to have that information, the goal, in my mind, was to determine whether or not I was getting my final chemo. So I asked some questions and came to the conclusion that she was expecting either to be telling me go ahead, no worries, or go ahead, with caution. She thought the chances were slim that she'd find damage so severe as to contraindicate chemo. After all, a little nerve damage is one thing, a little cancer is something else entirely. I agreed.
So I told her I'd like to skip any additional poking and prodding, if it's all right with her, and proceed directly to the part where I go ahead with chemo. She called my oncologist, and the wheels were set in motion again.
I had my final (hopefully the last ever in my life) chemotherapy treatment on Friday. It's hard to believe that it's over.
I have appointments Monday and Tuesday, in preparation for radiation which will begin in three weeks.
And now my dog is barking and whining for me to play with her.
Life goes on.