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Friday, March 25, 2016

Look, Ma- red hands! A brand new side effect

Today was unhook day- Mr. G. unhooked me from the  5FU pump and flushed the lines this morning. I wasn't as fatigued as  I normally am and stayed awake most of the day.  I noticed that  the tips of my fingers and thumbs were sore, but didn't think too much about it.  Until I woke up from a  late-afternoon nap with   raging red palms and fingers that felt  sore and swollen- especially  the fingertips. Even soles of my feet were sore, but not  as much as my palms. Evidently I'm getting  all the side effects I've  read about with 5-FU, but thankfully not all at once.  This one is called  palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia, or hand and foot syndrome.  Sounds  kind of like  hoof and mouth disease, doesn't it? In medical literature, the condition is described as "a cutaneous toxicity that manifests with palmar and plantar erythema, edema, and dysesthesia with varying degrees of pain, scaling, and vesiculation." There are all kinds of theories as to what causes it and who gets it, but  it is supposedly more common in women of advanced age, and I certainly fit that criteria! One of the more promising things I read in the Oncology literature was: "There actually have been some reports of PPE being correlated with improved survival, suggesting that greater exposure to the therapeutic drug, as represented by the PPE, also results in improved outcomes."  Now that would make a fair trade off on the  symptoms if  it turned out to be a strong correlation.

Anyhow, it was quite painful at first and I didn't know if I'd be able to  prepare supper, but Mr. G said he'd step in if needed   so I decided to  go ahead and try. I had already planned to cook some chicken tenders with roasted asparagus, and decided on lemony chicken francese. I think  working with the chicken, which involved a lot of hand washing, actually helped. I'd read that  one should avoid  heat with this condition, so I washed my hands  with cold water.  This is the exact opposite of  dealing with  the neuropathy I had earlier, where you avoid cold. I do think the cold water helped because the pain and  tenderness did seem to subside somewhat, although some tasks, like twisting the little tops on the salt and pepper mills, were painfully difficult. But everything went well, all things considered, and the chicken turned out  quite tender and the lemony sauce with capers was delicious.  It's now  a few hours later and while my hands  still feel a little sore and swollen they  are much improved and I'm hopeful  they'll be back to normal  soon.

So this is a most interesting journey,  quite bumpy at times, but a learning experience for sure.  Although, come  to think of it, it's not exactly the kind of learning experience I would have chosen if I'd actually had a choice.

I hope  the  whole hand  problem will be over by tomorrow.  We're supposed to have a nice day before the rain sets in on Sunday, and there are seedlings that need to be potted up, so I'm hoping to spend a few hours at the potting bench and maybe even get some more weeds pulled in  my jungle of  what was once a garden bed.

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