Monday 9th May 2016

Over the past week I’ve felt reasonably well except for the usual back pains at work which I was now putting down to muscle weakness due to reduced testosterone. However, I have had some stuff going on with my hands. It started last Sunday (1st May).

After a morning of putting them in and out of cold, refrigerated food displays I came home from work and gave them a wash. As I held them under the tap I could see the back of my left hand (the one that I received chemo into) was all red. It looked sunburned.

I’d had something like this before, just after my first Prostap injection. It hadn’t lasted long before vanishing, but now it was back. Over the next few days the back of my left hand became dry, red and itchy. An angry looking spot of irritated skin appeared over the vein where the chemo needle had been inserted and I got some dry, irritated patches on the right hand too but not to the same extent.

Additionally I found that my fingernails were sore. If I tried to scratch myself anywhere it would hurt my fingertips. Or if I had to open a package by digging my fingernails in to tear it then that would hurt a little too.

I considered contacting one of the telephone numbers I was given in the event of any unusual symptoms but instead opted to keep an eye on it and if it became particularly worrisome then I’d do something.

Earlier in the week I’d bought some hemp oil from Amazon. Me and Alison had been investigating cannabis oil after seeing Dennis Hill’s story of curing his metastatic prostate cancer. We bought four bottles and gave one to my brother in law who has Multiple Sclerosis. One was given to my mum, who has trouble with arthritis. Alison took one for the eczema on her hands and I kept one.

It had been a quick decision to buy it – based on the first review we read on Amazon. A woman who suffered from carcinomas on her face had treated them, much to her doctors surprise, using this brand of hemp oil. That was good enough for us. It was the fastest buying decision I’d ever seen Alison make. “Just get it,” she ordered after I read that review out to her.

On receiving it I mentioned it to a work colleague who knows a bit about these things. He reckoned that it would have to be 10% cannabinoid to be to any good. I went home and looked to see if I could get any more information and found that what I had bought was only 3-4%. Additionally it transpired that cannabis oil and hemp oil appeared to be two different things. This was starting to look like a bit of a dead end.

Alison and myself both decided to give a try though. We both put it on our hands with limited results. Although, as I write, there is some hope that combining it with Diprosone may be helpful to Alison. We also both tried taking it internally but I’m not so sure that I will buy it again. I can’t waste time on things that don’t work.

As we accepted that this was probably going to lead nowhere I read a story on the internet about a medicinal cannabis advice centre in Dundee. I am due to take some holiday leave from work between 8th May and the 19th and I consider taking a trip across to Dundee for a day to pay this place a visit. Me and Alison will be going on day trips while I am off work so that looks like a perfect way to kill two birds with one stone.

Something else that was going on was my mood. I had a vile temper for several days over the past week. I found that many of the minor annoyances in life that I usually ignored were really getting to me – things like work colleagues edging in front of me, not having a locker for my belongings in my workplace and equipment failing to perform properly. I kept it to myself but felt like I was in a barely suppressed rage all the time.

I kept trying to rationalise myself out of this mood but it finally came back to me that I had read a warning of psychological side effects related to the corticosteroids – things like feeling depressed, feeling alone, having strange and frightening thoughts. I looked again over the little leaflet that came with the pills and I considered that I could be getting some kind of low level symptom. Or perhaps it was a moment of reality hitting because I’d lapsed a little in my reading and research on holistic approaches to prostate cancer, which usually kept me upbeat and held my sense of mortality at bay.

On the other hand, perhaps it was frustration at my diet becoming a little boring. Certainly I was getting a better variety of foods these days considering the amount of fruit I was consuming. However meal times were starting to become irritating. I was sick of stir fry or grains mixed with beetroot. I’ve resolved, while on holiday, to try out some recipes so that I can make meal times a bit more fun and interesting again.

Speaking of meal times I got talking to a man with esophageal cancer on Friday. He is a maintenance guy who comes into the shop where I work on a regular basis. Someone mentioned that he is going through chemo so when I see him standing working alone I took the opportunity to approach him and to ask about it. It turned out that he has just finished chemo and he largely had no problems with it until he came off it.

Nervously I asked him if he drank a lot of milk, or ate a lot of eggs and cheese. I was nervous because I am putting so much faith in my dietary changes that if someone tells me that they have been vegan for years yet still have cancer it would shake my belief in what I am doing. I therefore feel some relief when he says that he drinks a lot of milk. With my confirmation bias corroborated I then suggested that milk could be the problem before recommending that he reads The China Study. I then suggested that I could friend him on Facebook and send him some links. He seemed agreeable to that and we took a note of each others names. However, when I tried to find him using a Facebook search there were dozens of guys with the same name. I wasn’t sure that he’d even look the same in his photo as he might have a pre-chemo photo in which he had hair, whereas he was actually bald with very faint eyebrows which were no doubt just growing back in.

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