Checking In

With 7 treatments done and only 3 left to go, I thought this might be a good time to evaluate where I am and what’s happening. There is, of course, extreme fatigue from the whole brain radiation. It comes and goes and isn’t constant, so that could be a plus I suppose. Although if it were constant I could at least plan a little better. The headache is no longer – and that’s a relief, not so much because of the lack of pain, but because it means the brain swelling is going down or is gone. I’m down to one steroid pill a day from 4 a day at the start and that is great news.

There is now a rather red area on the back of my neck in line with the 6th cervical spine, which is where the targeted radiation is being focused to deal with the metastatic tumor inside the spinal column. The pressure on the left ulnar nerve must be lessening because I’m able to mostly use my left hand without any problem, except for my fingers stumbling over themselves when I’m typing sometimes. But i’ve noticed that as long as I keep a steady pace and don’t race, I do okay.

I’ve also had somewhat of a dry throat. It’s not sore exactly, just dry and croaky. And the inside of my right cheek and on the gums seems to develop transient sores and bumps. Nothing intolerable to this point, so all I can do is check it out daily to see if it’s better, worse, or the same.

There are a couple of things I find interesting, though. I don’t have much cognitive deficit at the moment; my brain does feel full of cotton balls at times. The worst thing I’ve noticed for the last 2 or 3 days is an intense craving for salt. I’ve always liked salty foods – like my inclination to eat anchovies straight from the jar – but this is so much more intense. I’m trying to pace my salt intake with plenty of fluids but today we ran out of sea salt and I had to resort to cayenne pepper to soothe the craving. This is quite weird. I’m not sure of the mechanism that’s causing the salt craving, but I’ll research as I’m able. And then there’s the “listing to port” when I walk (or is it starboard? whatever, I’m a little lopsided!) That comes and goes, too. Now I know that some of these effects will go away, some won’t, and some might appear that haven’t yet – that’s the nature of whole brain radiation. All I can do right now is compensate as best I can, and stay vigilant to see what comes, what goes, and what stays the same.

Onward and upward.

19 thoughts on “Checking In

  1. I’m just heading offline to get supper ready. I’m glad your left hand is working better for you. Interesting development that craving for salt. I wonder what that’s from, have you asked other cancer support groups about it to see if it’s common for radiation treatments? I know you know this, but I have a reason to mention it, watch your sodium levels, maybe ask your team about it now before it becomes a bigger problem. I won’t go into why I mention it, just trust me that I have reason to be worried. I have to go…hubby’s waiting for me… ❤ ❤ ❤

  2. I’m okay, Sharon. I’m drinking lots of fluids, and I don’t have any other troublesome symptoms. It’s relatively common for whole brain radiation – all the brain cells are getting zapped, so there’s all sorts of effects from that. 😀

  3. You’re a trooper Ruth! Hope the last three treatments go well and you get a chance to recover from all of the zapping. Thinking about you. CraigB

  4. Ruth.. This mostly sounds good. Your salt craving must have reason. Maybe your reduction in steroids? So glad your ordeal is over soon!

    Btw.. I think port is the left side courtesy of an episode on Friends 😉

  5. Thanks again for your regular updates, Ruth! By brother-in-law who has something us non-medical folks might call “chronic lymphoma,” (as in he has had it for over 10 years, he’s on some kind of base level of meds, and then periodically (every few years of so) has to ramp up to a higher level for awhile to “beat back” the tumors, refers to “chemo brain,” when he talks about his brain not being quite as agile as it formerly was.

    Of course, I’m continuing to pray for you! Take care!

  6. Chemo brain is a real thing, but mine is radiation brain right now. Sadly, the effects of whole brain radiation sometimes never go away and can resurface years down the road, or even develop new symptoms much later.

  7. It’s amazing how the body reacts to these treatments. The salt craving is something i haven’t heard of, but I’m seeing my friend today who has had the same treatment (she use to list to the left a lot, but she’s good now) to see if she had any cravings. Once she was out of treatment I would take her swimming four times a week – it really helped. I always love your ‘onward and upward’ view xxxxx

  8. I can relate to your not knowing what normal is anymore. When my daughter died.. 32 yrs ago .. Things changed once again. I changed. Forever. We all did in our family .. The rest of the kids and us. I don’t know what normal is anymore because she is always with us .. With me. And this begs the question. ” What is normal?”. Is there a normal, ever? I wonder. Maybe we long for things we did before or could do before? Like your crocheting. I really hope you can get into that without any problems so that you can get your gifts done and sent as you want to.

  9. Angelika Schwarz says:

    Ruth you are expressing yourself so well. Maybe you notice a difference , also through your fatigue, but I just want to say your blogs are very well written. Sending you a hug.

Ruth passed away from cancer. Please remove from list

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