I had my scheduled follow-up with Dr. H last week where he officially confirmed I’m all done with chemo and we mapped out the recovery process. I gave Dr. H my list of complaints (except weight gain because we’ve already addressed it to death) to make sure there wasn’t anything I should worry about. He referred me to my new GP, Dr. P who was seeing me for the second time. These were the specific issues I asked her about:
- Joint stiffness/inflexibility
- Tendon aches
- Pain just under the skin of the belly – neuropathy
- Hip/joint slip – I’ll be walking or standing and suddenly my joint will slip as if I’m going to fall
- Inability to sleep through the night (I’d wake up nearly every night around 3am for at least an hour)
- General exhaustion
She listened thoughtfully to what I had to say as she read through the glowing report from my last PET scan. She put two and two together and tied in the exhaustion with the fact that I haven’t had uninterrupted sleep in a while. So, she suggested I stop taking Tylenol PM (unless I’m really in pain) and try Ashwaganda, 500 MG about an hour before I need to be asleep. From what I’ve read it’s a natural supplement from a shrub that grows in India, and Nepal. It has a lot of positive effects it seems, but I liked this description the best: Ashwagandha in Sanskrit means “horse’s smell” (ashwa- horse, gandha- smell), probably originating from the odour of its root which resembles that of a sweaty horse. The species name somnifera means “sleep-inducing” in Latin. Mmmmm sleeeep. I’ll pick some up tomorrow and check back with you in about a week to let you know what I think of it.
I went on to explain about the pain just under my ankles and she pressed around the area with her thumb and fingers until she hit the “ouch” spot, confirming it was an itis of the tendons. We talked about the aches and how Dr. E (my chiropractor) could hardly adjust me because I was locked up so tight and she surprisingly confirmed I actually have gained muscles from the sad excuse for exercising I’ve been doing. So much that it was so tight it was pulling at my joints. As she informed me that just because my knees ache doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with my knees. In this case the muscles in my leg that I’ve been working from walking, climbing and cycling were so tight, they were pulling everything out of alignment. Basic stretching won’t put a dent in it so she ordered physical therapy. I’ve never gone through it, but she explained what I should expect from it and if I don’t get those results then ask for another trainer until I get the results I need. Now, that’s refreshing. A doctor who talks to you like a good friend. And it’s a good point to focus on here. It’s that part of owning our role in recovering. If you’re not getting better then you need to speak up and ask for what you need.
More on Dr. P. to follow…