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Forgetting the details during chemotherapy

June 20, 2010
by Kathleen Mears
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During chemotherapy and radiation treatments I did not stick to the food program that allowed me to lose 30 pounds in two years. In order to help curb chemo nausea I went back to eating three meals a day and also did not watch my calories as closely. I let dietary send me desserts. I felt somewhat guilty eating sandwiches with two pieces of bread and felt even stranger eating hamburgers and hot dogs on buns. The change in my eating habits and the steroids given during chemotherapy caused me to gain weight gradually.

After chemotherapy my legs ached for several days. But I felt my body was recovering and my bone marrow was churning out new blood cells.

Even though I had gained weight, I thought that I would lose some of it as I had 19 years before when I went through treatments. I was surprised to find that that did not happen.

Two weeks after completing radiation my legs were killing me particularly in the late afternoon. I knew I was still recovering but it was quite difficult for me to get up and stand straight during transfers. I was so afraid that I would end up on the floor or that the aides would become disgusted with my shaky legs.

One afternoon when the aides removed my leg braces (AFOs) I noticed the red marks on my legs. Each day I tried to remind my aide to make sure my brace straps had some slack. But some days I forgot and my swollen legs would remind me. I knew my legs were being constricted by the braces, and I realized they needed to be adjusted. I was shocked when the brace establishment told me the earliest appointment was three weeks away.

At the same time I noticed that my power chair's seat cushion had lost its bounce. When we measured it, my 18 month old cushion had compressed one half inch. I felt I needed a new one but I did not know what kind I wanted. Since I needed to be more comfortable while sitting, I went online and ordered a gel cushion less than an inch thick.

I had my braces adjusted this past week and I cannot believe how much better my legs feel. They are no longer numb when I stand and they are not as shaky.

My gel cushion arrived and I placed it over my old one. It has made my back and legs feel much better.

I made many preparations for chemotherapy and radiation but I forgot these two details. I may have forgotten them because they seemed minor. But I learned when these details where corrected they greatly improved my comfort and functionality.

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Kathleen Mears

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Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...