Another recovery stride is a device to control what I'd estimate is 40% of my nerve pain. Have I described the nerve pain in the blog yet? Did I tell you that normal pain relievers do nothing for nerve pain? It feels like someone heated up a sewing machine needle and started sewing up and down my underarm from the armpit to the elbow. I think it might also be along my back/ribs a bit. Yea. If I don't move, it goes away. However, anything that causes rubbing, vibrations, or (heaven forbid) goosebumps renews the hot sewing. This crazy nerve pain inhibits my recovery by encouraging me not to move my arm. Therefore, at the top of my agenda today was to devise a way to control at least some of the pain so that I could exercise the muscles. I probably should have done this sooner, but only in the absence of tubes and gauze do I have the clarity necessary for engineering and execution.
What I did was cut off the leg of some running tights and dissected it a bit to fashion some slippage-preventing straps. I slid this up over the affected area, tied it around my shoulder, and sha-zam! The result is considerable relief because it protects from immediate friction. Goosebumps, however, remain the ultimate enemy.
The penultimate recovery stride of today is that I intended to do a bit of work from home. I set up a work station in the West Wing (aka our guest room) and successfully passed the first three security levels on the government laptop. I failed the fourth and final security thing, however, and so I am patiently waiting for my work's IT department to call me back. If my recovery stays on this trajectory my plan is to dig through work emails from home this week and weekend, then show up at the lab on Monday ready for real science. If I get to science while at home, that's all the better.
I'm sure you've been waiting for it and here it is: the gross thing that I am calling a recovery stride. I'm taking it as evidence of recovery from chemotherapy, evidence of a renewing immune system. Fact 1: During chemotherapy, I had at least two and probably three sinus infections, the first one perhaps in December but certainly in January. Fact 2: Eleanor has had a runny nose and spiked a fever this weekend (poor dear), and I am currently rocking her cold but with milder symptoms. It does not feel like a sinus infection. Fact 3: All morning long I had this sensation that I needed to blow my nose, but nothing would come out. Finally, around noonish, something fell into my mouth from the sinus sky and choked me. I spit it out and gagged in disgust. I ran to the garbage disposal and slapped it in. Fortunately I ran no water and activated no switches, for 30 minutes later I was ready to confront the unidentified falling object. I reached in bare-handed to locate the object, but I immediately recoiled from its squish and slime and suffered a fair amount of painful goosebumps. I extracted the object with a kebob stick and a spoon and placed it in tupperware for proper documentation and preservation. Without further ado, alongside a penny for size reference, my sinus UFO:
Whaaaaat!?!?! Super nasty! How is that possible? Is that of human or bacterial origin? In case there is any doubt, it is laying exactly as it exists in its spongy form and is shaped exactly like my sinuses; it is not a random blob of mucus. I desperately want Dr. Oncologist's input on my sinus UFO, so I submerged it in rubbing alcohol until my next appointment. Perhaps you will think that keeping such a thing is the grossest part of my story, but I assure you, it's not.
And with a breath deeper than I've taken in months, I continue sauntering down my recovery roads.