Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Unwanted Journey: Day 1084 - Legs of Steel

Unless you've had dramatically swollen legs (whether through edema or blood clots), you may not understand how painful they can be. You would certainly not appreciate how irrational fears surface about them reaching a breaking point and then exploding like a balloon.

Thankfully, my nurse today knew the sensation and pain of swollen feet and legs (when she was pregnant). It's not always the case, but a general rule among caregivers is that people can only give back sympathy or empathy for something they have experienced themselves. So, today when I shared with a technician in digital imaging how my world had collapsed in around me when I could no longer walk, she didn't really have any idea what that meant on a personal level.

People try, but experience is a teacher that transcends almost all others. A family member I referenced in a another post recently, who has suffered terrible pain for several years now, has tried to explain to me the pain of his legs brought about by thrombosis and the deterioration of nerves. Until now, his stories could never really resonate. Now I know.

Imagine being unable to lift or bend your legs. Imagine touching them and having no give back or even impression from your finger tips. Imagine them growing so large that you can't separate them appreciably. Imagine them being so painful that you need a walker just to hobble a few feet to the washroom. Imagine concerns about falling and having no way to get up again. Imagine telling a nurse that you cannot, absolutely cannot, manage getting into the shower, much less standing upright for a few minutes. Imagine the irrational concern that the swelling would continue until your penis and testicles were surrounded by rock hard flesh making voiding impossible for simply physical reasons.

So, you get a little of the picture. My legs are of steel, but not muscle. Unfortunately, the situation will continue for a while at least. The blood thinners and diuretics will take many more days before I notice much improvement. All of which is not as important as the threat of blood clots themselves. Suddenly, chemo itself appears like child's play, but child's play that requires a minimal level of health for which I which I am currently unqualified.

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