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.