One of the permanent side effects from chemo that I’ve been left with is neuropathy. The Taxol in my first round of chemo started it, and before I had a chance to recover, the Carboplatin in my second round firmly nailed it into place.
I’ve been left with numbness in my fingertips and with feet that are pretty much completely numb from my toes to about 2/3rd of the way back to my heel. It almost feels like my feet have been dipped in glue: I can feel the pressure and some of the movement, but when I put my foot into my shoe, I can’t tell if my toes are straight or if they are squished. I still drop things with my hands, and often when I’m knitting I can’t tell if I’m actually holding the yarn or not. It’s a bummer, all in all.
But beyond the numbness is the associated nerve pain. I’ve been treating that with medication for a while, but it’s just not doing the trick. So instead of adding in a second, complementary drug, I’m trying acupuncture. I had my first appointment this week.
I went into a clean, comfortable treatment room, and was told that I’d be face up on the table. We went over my issues, and the practitioner began placing the needles, which were each pulled from sealed packets. I had several in my head (like a tiara!), a few in my ears, then in the webbing between my fingers and toes, other sites on my feet and arms, and a few around my knees for good measure. My practitioner then turned out the lights and told me to rest for 25 minutes. I was pretty comfortable, and I think that there was something going on as my feet started to get itchy all over, which is at least a sign of some activity. At the end of the time, she came back in and removed all of the needles. She told me that they often hook up electro-stimulation machines to the needles, but because of my implanted device (the port) that wasn’t an option.
It wasn’t unpleasant at all, and I’m going to go back in a week for my next session. I’ve also been advised to begin soaking my hands and feet in epsom salts, which is easy enough to do. I am hopeful that this works, not just for pain management but also for nerve healing. I am completely open to complementary medicine, and it’s interesting that my huge HMO has begun to support it as well. Keep your fingers crossed!