I looked at myself in the mirror while getting ready for work and thought, “Augh! How can I manage ten more treatments when my skin already looks like this?” My skin now shows signs of 20 radiation treatments. There is a large rectangle area that looks like raw beef; red, poufy and very, very tender. It starts in the middle of my chest and wraps around my side towards my back. My left armpit is included in this red rectangle and physically I hurt. It is painful.
Each Thursday my doctor physically examines my radiated skin. She was gone last week and I saw her associate instead. I was eagerly awaiting this visit with my regular doctor since I was having more discomfort than the previous weeks. When she saw my skin her first words were, “Do you need me to prescribe some pain pills?” I declined and expressed I cannot drive or work well on pain medication so I would continue with my usual doses of Aleve instead. However, I did ask about the special ointment that contains Lidocaine. Lidocaine is a numbing cream that I apply to my port before each chemo treatment. She gave me two different tubes of ointment to try. The creams do not totally numb the affected radiated area but they take the painful edge off. I apply the cream three to four times a day. Her parting words to me were, “Nicki, please call if you need the pain meds and I will prescribe them for you.” I promised I would.
On my first visit she informed me I would feel like I have a very bad sunburn and would want to hold my arm out vertically the last two weeks of treatment. She also stated that I would not want to wear any clothes on my upper body. I laughed and said, “That is not an option in my current line of work.” However, both statements are ringing true. Although I had a few bad sunburns in my younger days none compare to this. Imagine your worst sunburn then magnify it several times over. That is how my skin feels. I watch for blistering and oozing. I cannot wait to come home from work each night and slip out of the garments that touch my raw, sensitive skin.
My sister accidently left a bed jacket at my home. Secretly, I made fun of it. It looks like something an old lady would wear. It is made of pale blue fleece. It is loose fitting, worn and very soft like a child’s well loved stuffed teddy bear. The first thing I do when I come home from work is to change into this “old lady garment” that feels so kind against my hurting skin. The very item I poked fun of is now my BFF (best friend forever). It is comforting and soothing against my skin and I no longer make fun of it.
I opened my devotional this morning before work and the first words I read were, “Come to Me (God talking) when you are hurting and I will sooth your pain.” After the “Augh…” statement I uttered in my bathroom earlier, I knew that I needed to change my attitude from “I still have ten more treatments” to “I have finished twenty treatments already.” Like chemo, this too shall pass and my skin will heal.