When I was seeing an oncologist and undergoing treatment for lymphoma, one side effect from the chemo drug vincristine was peripheral neuropathy (numbness, pain and tingling in my feet). I repeatedly told my doctor my feet were so numb I couldn't feel the floor. He put me through all the assesments tests, one being balancing on tiptoes, and then on my heels. I always passed the assessments. Each week I asked if I could be taken off the drug, but he felt the neuropathy wasn't severe enough. All the while I had a strong 'gut feeling' my body was not tolerating the vincristine. I was too timid to demand or express the power of my body wisdom. Even though I am a strong believer in partnering with medical professionals, I felt too overwhelmed with the whole cancer journey and the need trust chemotherapy (a stretch for me!) to be my own advocate.
After four rounds of chemo, I badly sprained my right ankle. My doctor reduced the amount of the drug, but a month later, with continued neuropathy, I sprained the other ankle. In the end, we both felt much sorrow for this unneccessary suffering.
I share this not to blame my oncologist. A doctor is not a mind reader, and can't feel what the patient is experencing body-wise. These situations often come down to a doctor's years of experience with patients, symptoms, treatments vs. hearing what the patient knows of his/her own body and trusting the patient's ability to articulate or listen to the body.
This was a powerful invitation to me to continue listening and trusting my body's wisdom. And be my own advocate. Or to find someone I trust to be my advocate especially when drugs or proceedures weaken my ability to speak for myself with any authority.
I've always thought of myself as being quite self aware, but my journey though cancer taught me self awareness must include the body. Sharon
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