This hot weather we have been having in Melbourne has been giving a further boost to my general scattiness. That, and the lack of any new developments (and appointments over Christmas), have contributed to the absence of posts for the last few weeks.
I saw Dr P, my oncologist, on the 16th. (This appointment was, as usual, preceded by a blood test.) The main no-news is that the PSA continues to be undetectable. I had been told I was to have another Zolodex implanted that day. (This is the ADT drug that we hope will continue to keep the cancers inactive.) Dr P checked with the hospital; I had the previous one implanted at Cycle 5 of the chemo, on 5 December 2018. They last about three months, so I am not due for another one until 27 February (my next appointment with him). This fits in as, in the new regimen, I will be seeing Dr P every six weeks. So I will get a new Zolodex implant every other appointment.
Meanwhile I will also be having a scan, booked for 23 January. This will be a tracer-type scan, before which I have to drink a preparation containing barium. (I was issued with the preparation and instructions for taking it on the day that I saw Dr P.) As usual with scans, the purpose is to detect any unusual or unexpected activity. I have had one of these before without ill effect; I think I have had just about every type of scan commonly on offer. I don’t mind what it is as long as it isn’t an MRI, which I find pretty claustrophobia-inducing.
My fingernails are showing one of the main side effects of the chemo, turning various shades of yellow (left hand) and grey (right hand). This has been accompanied by soreness at the tips of the fingers, which hasn’t seemed to spread down to the gripping function of the hands. So I can still open jars and bottles, and hoist weights at the gym, but have trouble pulling my credit cards out of my wallet. Dr P said this was one of the most common side effects of chemotherapy. The nails will grow out normally from the cuticle, and the old darkened nails would gradually drop off. I have been getting some swelling as well around the ankles, particularly on the left side. (With the help of Dr Google I diagnosed this as lymphedema, a common occurrence in people who have had lymph nodes removed.) I have been dealing with this by elevating the ankles, particularly at night, and wrapping the left hand one in a bandage that I got when I twisted an ankle years ago. Both things seem to work quite well, and fortunately the ankles aren’t painful at all when swollen.
I had a claustrophobic reaction also to an exhibition that we went to see recently at NGV International about Escher and X nendo — the latter someone of whom you will have heard if you are a Gen Y or Z. Unfortunately I couldn’t see 95% of this exhibition, as it was pretty crowded, extremely dark, and laid out in such a way that you couldn’t see more than a few metres ahead of you. I had to bail out after a few minutes and go and have a look at the merch. (The tickets had been freebies from American Express, so I didn’t mind too much.) We saw another exhibition some time after this, about Baldessin and Whiteley, also at NGV (the Potter this time). This was a far more pleasurable exhibition to attend, with a much more light and airy layout which emphasised the contrasts and similarities between these artists. This exhibition finishes on 28 January BTW; an entry fee is payable for both. It is worth it, IMHO, to see Whiteley’s huge Lavender Bay pictures, and his epic American Dream sequence.