Disco dots to the rescue?

When I first started this blog back in March I wondered if I’d run out of things to write about but somehow that hasn’t happened. Well, not until last week.

I felt worn out. I had bursts of energy but they tended to quickly fizzle out after an hour or so. Most of the time I was so tired that I wasn’t able to think about much else apart from getting through each day.

The chemotherapy may be over but I seem to use up much of that energy on medical appointments in London. The surgery I had to get rid of the cancer was extensive and it’s caused me plenty of problems. Nothing too serious, just stuff that needs sorting out.

Of course experiencing all this fatigue is frustrating but pretty normal. Last week, one of the doctors at hospital said I should think of cancer treatment as like running a marathon. You focus on just getting through each medical mile. Exhaustion is just one of the many horrendous side effects. It’s only when you stop that it really hits you.

Weeks after crossing the chemo finishing line it still feels as if I’m sitting on the pavement covered in a silver foil cape, too shattered to move. I want to have a normal life instead of watching it pass me by.

The doctor suggested that I keep a tiredness diary. I was supposed to write down everything I did for a week so I could see if I was doing too much or too little. Each day was divided up into two hour chunks.

I started the diary on Wednesday and gave up on Thursday. It was far too depressing. It made me realise that at one point I was in bed for 17 hours in a row.

So I tried something else.

I gave acupuncture another go. It was one of the things that helped me cope with being poisoned by the toxic cocktails. I still don’t understand why it should work but several of my cancer fighter friends have said that it’s really given them a boost after chemo.

With a checked shirt and a silver hippy necklace, the acupuncturist took my hand as soon as entered the room. He was trying to establish my energy flow, I think, or something like that. I tried not to look too sceptical but he just smiled at me serenely

I lay back on the couch. Through a window in the ceiling I watched clouds slowly drift overhead as he stuck the skinny pins in my hands and feet.

Black dots began to dance in front of my eyes. The spots weren’t in the sky but some kind of optical illusion. Last time I had acupuncture loads of these tiny blobs seemed to rush across my eyes like a river. Now there wasn’t so many of them. These spots did a kind of side to side shuffle. It should have been quite freaky but I felt calm as I concentrated on the disco dots.

After about twenty minutes they disappeared and in their place were tiny white flickers of light that flashed frantically.

“Do you want me to do something that will really get things going? It’ll be painful to start with,” he warned.

And it was. Long needles were pushed hard into my thumbs and big toes, right near to the nails. Really big misshapen spots appeared and slowly swam across my eyes. This mirage also faded after a while.

I’d like to say that I walked out of there with a spring in my step but I didn’t. Instead I went home for a rest and then got the last train back to my parents’ house in the countryside.

That night I had the best sleep in a long time. I woke up to find that the extreme tiredness had gone. It was like someone had just flicked a switch.

Since then it’s been incredible. For the past few days I’ve felt energetic, alert and much more like me again. Okay, I’m no where near back to normal but I’m able to do things like walk without feeling as if I might collapse.

Why the sudden change? Maybe it was the acupuncture. The disco dancing dots. Perhaps it was being back with my parents.

Whatever it was, I don’t care, I just hope it lasts.

6 thoughts on “Disco dots to the rescue?

  1. Helen, I so hope that’s a decisive turn for you. I have had acupuncture work in dramatic form twice, once after major surgery. But even if you feel stronger, really you shouldn’t come back into the office if you’re not absolutely sure you’re ready. We know you are a fighter. We know you will be back. You dont need to prove it too quickly if your body isn’t quite a match for your willpower yet! P x

  2. Oh that’s so good. It’s kinda incredibly that your body is so reactive to the needles. And as for that good night of sleep – I suppose a test of trails will see if it’s the acupuncture, though maybe it’s a culmination of events. Anyhow, I’m so glad to hear you have more energy. Keep working on it, and I hope it gets better and better. (And if it doesn’t all the time get better, no worries – each day further away from chemo is an improvement in itself).


  3. Sounds like it really works for you – they say that it suits some people better than others.
    So glad it gave you more bounce, though I must say your toe-nails were already looking splendid – putting my peely purple varnish to shame.

    Take care, looking fwd to seeing you back on the telly when you’re ready :)

  4. Hmmmmm….
    I’ve been on my cancer-fighting journey for 8 months, and I’m so mentally weary of the physical side effects of the meds. Your blog entry has just inspired me to give accupuncture a try. I think I’ll set up an appointment tomorrow. Wow – I’m feeling better already! :-)

    • Fantastic!! I can imagine you’re tired of it. Even if we didn’t have to go through all the treatment and the fighting, just dealing with something so stressful for so long would make anyone feel shattered. Good luck with the acupuncture. I really don’t understand how it works but it just seems to so I’ve stopped trying to work out why! x

  5. Wow, sounds like the acupuncture really did the biz. I had it for a while at an osteopath and I got sight effects too, it was like seeing in Kodachrome! – but that wore off. Excellent that you’ve found something that works.

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