Thursday, January 3, 2013

Fine whine

Of the various side-effects of my treatment, the one about which I’ve written least and that is now bothering me the most is pruritis—itchy skin. I had an outbreak a couple of months ago that eventually subsided and it’s now returned with a vengeance. The worst thing about it is how the inevitable scratching disturbs my sleep. Neither Benadryl nor hydrocortisone cream gives relief. 

I had hoped that I’d be pulling out of my post-therapy funk by the new year. If anything, my fatigue has increased in recent days and my appetite is failing me again. I’m back on my Ensure diet. It’s depressing. I hate having to think about what to eat and then to not be able to when I sit down to a meal.

I’ve even curtailed my running schedule. Until this week, I had maintained a four or five-day a week regimen, but it seems counterproductive to come in from a run and immediately lie down to nap. The notion of exercise pushing blood into the brain is appealing, but it’s just gotten too hard to do this for a while. I hope to resume in a week or two.

There isn’t a lot of clinical experience with ipi, but my symptoms all seem within the normal range of what’s been reported. Some, like the pruritis, are often delayed. I’ve been off ipi for more than a month, yet it could be several months more before it’s done with me. The antibodies usually persist in the body, which I shouldn't complain about. That's sort of the point of the whole exercise.

The issue thus comes down to expectations, both mine and those of my friends and family. I feel I’ve passed the socially acceptable time limit for someone recovering from cancer treatment. I've used up my sympathy quotient. It might help if my hair were to start growing back in. The follicles were burned out months ago by radiation and I've been left with what looks like permanent peach fuzz. I realize monks shave their heads as a sign of humility, but I don’t want to push that conceit too far. I’m ready for a foray into society again as someone who's not conspicuously a cancer survivor.

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