5 Weeks Into Radioactivity . . . stand back!

 

   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:
IMG_5955
End of Week 3
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End of Week 4
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End of Week 5
Only 1 week left! Hallelujah. Hey! Note the return of the eyebrow! 🙂

8 thoughts on “5 Weeks Into Radioactivity . . . stand back!

  1. hey Darling sister! Although it is wrenching to see your poor suffering skin, the half-bemused, half-grimacing almost-smile on your face gives us reason to admire your courage.
    And thanks for the great blow-by-blow reporting on your six mile ride; it feels like being along with you (especially for those of us who know your Ohio woodsy trails and hills and fields). A really big thanks to your two riding friends for being so understanding and helpful. (I suppose one of them is one I know – hats off!)
    As I have been remiss in my following of your blogs, I will now sit down and catch up on the ones I have missed… Just let me say, you wear your burns (I guess I’m supposed to say your “treatment reaction skin”) beautifully. We would expect no less from one of Gloria’s beautiful daughters 😉

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  2. Luann, once again I admire your toughness and your amused-but-respectful perspective on this whole thing. I don’t know withers from fetlocks, but I enjoyed the tale of your first equestrian experience in who-knows-when. I suspect this indicates major spiritual & physical healing of our favorite blogger, which, combined with this being the last week of radiation, makes me very happy. And the eyebrows are mahvelous! Hope to see you soon!

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  3. Awww Scot, you make me blush! Really, I’m not so tough as I am reluctantly accepting (AKA ‘long-suffering’ to persons with no real sense of what it is to be without better options). But seriously, I’m wonderfully impressed that you know the WORDS “withers & fetlocks,” this is really something for anyone outside of general “barn” circles!!! Looking forward to sharing activities with your family again soon! Love you!

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  4. Dear Lovely Sister Lu,
    Again, thank you for being so humble. You are the strongest, bravest woman I know. I am glad that you are at the end of the radiation journey. You are my hero! I love you sister.
    I hope to see lots of you this summer!
    Love,
    Anne C.

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  5. Hi Lu, I be out o the blog loop …. so sorry to say. Anne has handed me her computer to help me get with it. I am quite pleased that she did. It was a bit tough reading about your skin and how it reacted to the treatment … and then seeing those pics, whoa nellie !! Let’s just go for a six mile ride and the hell with a little nuisance pain. Beauty ! Way to push all of the inconvenience aside and pursue your passion. Bravo sister … bravo. Hoping this is the ninth inning of a tough game that you come out on the winning side. Enjoy the shower.

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