I believe I have reached the stage that I can now read in bed without a nightlight.
Alright, this is hard to confirm as the days are getting longer and who stays up past 8:30? Okay, everyone in my house except me. Remind me to ask my husband if he reads without a nightlight just laying next to me. Anyhow . . .
Seriously — and conversely. My skin is not glowing, but rather darkening. Not a sun enriched heightening of color, like a “tell-tale rose” that speaks of unintended exposure, or even “really red due to carelessly neglectful over-exposure,” but some spots are dark purple, more like the “help! I just used the oil in my sauté pan for a moisturizer! Call 911!” kind of dark.
Amusing side note: The staff at the Radiation Center are not allowed to refer to the affected area as Radiation Burn. It is “Skin that is reacting to the treatment.” There are no burns reported, simply skin that has reacted moderately or severely. Tell that to my clavicle.
On the whole, I believe I am actually fortunate that my worst spots are not in fact open sores. I understand that this happens on occasion and I seem to have escaped that fate. I am not, however, going to ask sisters for an “Amen” for another week. Why jinx it? While I do have another week, the technicians assure me that my current “worst” spots are no longer in the line of fire, for which my worst spots thank them and the doctor endlessly.
One of the hazards of this phase that is unavoidable, no matter the severity of your “affected skin,” is the discomfort, which can skew into out-right-pain, caused by shoulder straps. Your radiation Doctor, Nurse, or Assistant should be able to provide a soft skin covering that will protect any area being “rubbed” or agitated, which can be very helpful, but it involves an adhesive, which comes with its own problems. Keep in mind one may consider going braless instead, but even if one does so, don’t forget about seat-belts and the shoulder straps on those.
This week I discovered a very satisfactory solution for most strap related discomfort. By first putting on my softest T-shirt and wearing my bra over that, I’ve been able to relieve not only the shoulder strap issue, but the also the bra’s uncomfortable elastic band that encompasses the circumference of the torso underneath the breasts. The T-shirt provides a great deal of relief.
As I approach the finish line I find myself more mentally and emotionally exhausted than physically so. I’m tired of my own fragility and lack of muscle confidence, but this fatigue ironically comes with the engagement of returning strength which brings a fresh spark and an uplifting energy that can honestly be called joy. Sweet . . . in a subdued sort of way.
For example, Sunday I rode a borrowed lease horse for a 2 hour ride. This was not my regular gelding whom I trust with no boundaries. My guy Brody has a bruised hoof. On the other hand, my borrowed mount had the capacity to elevate my anxiety to abnormal levels. However, two really good friends allowed for my “limited ability to over-ride” the bad behavior of my borrowed mount, and his tendency to kick and fuss if he was challenged for the lead at a trot or canter, and they ended up needing to test their own skills to master their mounts as we traversed 6 miles on horseback together. The up-side of the “bad boy” is that he has really nice gaits at the trot and canter, when he isn’t bucking because he’s not allowed to gallop past the front-runner.
Allowed to rule in front of the pack, he was a wonderful ride. Although I regretted terribly what it cost my fellow riders, who did not complain about what had to be their diminished enjoyment of the ride.
The kindness of my friends, of their willingness to hold their mounts in check despite the fact that one of their mounts is much faster at the trot, and the other easily out canters the bad boy, thereby forcing protests from each of those horses at a physical battle level, was an overwhelmingly, viscerally acute experience. Still, the whole episode gave me both deep gratitude that I could cautiously ride a spirited horse, and grave humility over my friends display that my fear of the unexpected in my current state was more important to them than their own safety-comfort levels.
How wonderful are they? How wonderful that I can ride again? How wonderful is life?
Now, for the reveal of my moderately reacting skin, or what I prefer to refer to as my obligatory chest shots:
End of Week 3
End of Week 4
End of Week 5
Only 1 week left! Hallelujah. Hey! Note the return of the eyebrow! 🙂