neuropathy: CIPN, chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy

I keep forgetting to talk about this: chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy. I have had some neuropathy in my big toes since my back pain became severe last year, so some of it has just continued as I’ve gone into chemo. But, I have noticed an increase of neuropathy in my other toes and, particularly, I’ve noticed it in my fingers. Mostly, my symptoms include numbness and occasional tingling; so far, I have not had pain.

The most aggravating part of this is the tendency for me to drop things. Having used to be dexterous, I have little patience with my new challenge. I cannot say how many times I drop items throughout the day. I think I have it, and it falls to the floor. The more I pick up, the more I drop. I drop my keys when I’m opening the car door, the apartment door and the office door. When I go to the store and pull out my card or money to pay, I invariably drop either. It’s a hassle because my balance is so poor with this brace that bending low is a difficult move. I don’t like having to do this and holding up everyone else in line, but I have to go through the motions of bending safely: position myself sideways to the item, plié deeply and, then, holding onto something steady (sometimes this is not even available) reach down sideways to pick up the item; it feels like it takes an eternity. I no longer swoop down and back up to pick up anything. Whenever Marvin is around, he insists on retrieving items I drop, accusing me 🙂 of dropping them on purpose for the fun of it. I also have a bit of a challenge with touch tasks: typing, using the phone or cell phone, putting on makeup.

I have to be very careful when handling anything than I can break–dishes, camera, my fountain pens, my iPhone. A useful find for my iPhone was the case cover by Otterbox, which Marvin got for me in pink. Please don’t ask me to confess whether I have dropped my phone on a hard surface or how many times . . . Let’s just say I could write an ad for this company :). For anything that allows it, I attach and use a strap that will deter a damaging fall, and for my camera, I put the wrist strap on over a soft surface before I move anywhere. If I change filters, I do it on over a safe, soft surface.

Anyway, most literature on CIPN advises us to keep our health care team apprised of our neuropathy so they can make appropriate recommendations. If it becomes severe and the remedies don’t work, it appears that administration of chemo might even be adjusted. This is a side effect that requires monitoring, so be sure if you have it, that you monitor it and advise your chemo team and hemonc of changes or increases in symptoms.

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