The needle protrudes from the top of my head. Another in my forehead. In each forearms and thick, fleshy parts of my hands reside the threadlike pins. Needles occupy the real estate of my calves, shins and the tops and bottoms of my feet. I have needles coming out of my ears. Literally.
I am a human pin cushion.
As I lie here, my mother’s tomato-shaped pin cushion pops into my head. I am grateful the person sticking me with these needles does so with much more care than my mom during a sewing frenzy to make me a last-minute Halloween costume when I was 10.
So why, exactly, have I embodied Pinhead from “Hellraiser”?
It’s part of a therapeutic regimen I have created for myself to deal with what I call ‘The Aftermath”. The Aftermath is the stuff they don’t tell you about when actively going through breast cancer treatments. In the wake of chemo, radiation, surgeries and non-steroidal aromatase inhibitors, comes the achy, daily myalgic pain.
The muscles and joints in my extremities scream at me every day. Each morning, I give my feet a pep talk out of the bed and into the bathroom. Meanwhile I try to get my hands to coordinate enough to lift the toilet seat. By the time I have stumbled to the coffee maker, I have pleaded with my thighs to not be so high-strung. Throughout the day, I literally wring my hands, much like a nervous piano player in an Old West Saloon.
Acupuncture has become just one of the tools in my post-cancer bag-o-tricks to try to alleviate The Aftermath.
I also have my Old-Lady Pill-Box. Is it filled with mind-blowing tablets that make everything groovy rainbows and unicorns?
Absolutely not. Just boring supplements. Supplements designed to help with joint and muscle pain from my daily dose of Anastrozole. Twice a day, I gobble down Vitamin D, Calcium, Magnesium, Turmeric. Acetyl-L-Carnitine, and L-Glutamine.
Next up is a leather belt, tiger tail, foam roller and a tennis ball. In the past, these items might have made for an amusing Saturday night with my husband.
Instead, they are each used in a much less lascivious manner. The leather belt gets placed around the bottom of each of my feet to stretch the fascia. The tiger tail and foam roller help with help with the constant calf-cramps. When I able to wrestle the tennis ball from my German Shepherd, it gets placed under my foot to handle heel pain.
Lotions, creams, ointments and salves fill my bathroom drawers. All designed to give a icy-hot sensation up and down my body to alleviate the discomfort. CBD, Deep Blue, Tiger Balm. When I go out in public, I figure I smell like an escapee from the Activity/Exercise Room at the Senior Center.
By the way, I highly recommend scrubbing like a surgeon after using one of these BEFORE putting on face cream, or touching ANY sensitive part of the body. Learned that lesson a time or twenty.
I move my body every day just to keep it from cramping up. I walk at least 3 1/2 miles a day like a madwoman on a mission. A mission to get myself unravelled. Sadly I have had to put my running on hold. My right foot protests every time I step off into a jog. So for now, walking is my movement of choice.
In spite of the needles, pills, leather and lotion, I am thankful. I may not be as strong as I once was, but I am here. I will get past the aches, pains, and cramps. I have to. There are more amusing Saturday nights with my husband to be had.