I've mentioned before how one of my current chemotherapy medications gives me peripheral neuropathy, where my fingers and toes are numb and tingly. Most of the time that's not too big an issue—it's annoying, not painful, and I can still do most things I like to do. Typing is fine (though I may be a tad slower than I used to be), the buttons and dials on my cameras are still easy to operate, and even playing guitar is okay, since I was no shredding speed demon on the fretboard to start with.
However, tasks requiring really fine motor control are difficult. For instance, the other day my daughter Marina asked me to help her put on a necklace, with one of those super-tiny lobster-claw fasteners in the back. While I could get my thumbnail under the catch, I didn't have the precise feeling in my fingertips to get the tension just right, to keep the clasp open yet not have my finger slip right off. I had to ask my wife Air to help instead.
Similarly, peeling labels off their wax-paper backing and even opening the pop-tops on soda cans are now clumsy manoeuvres for me. When opening a Diet Dr. Pepper, I now usually resort to prying the pop-top up with a butter knife or a car key, then using my fingers once there's some good leverage to open it the rest of the way.
I'm not sure how much worse it's going to get, or what else that was once easy might become harder. Some people have suggested treatments such as acupuncture which might reduce the numbness. I might try that if the neuropathy becomes at all debilitating. It's the end for any aspirations of my being a neurosurgeon, anyway. Good thing I never had those to start with.
Those necklace clasps are kind of like the G-rated version of the bra strap. Designed for small, female hands and frustrating to those of us with, you know, hairy-knuckled Shrek hands.
Not to impune your disparage your hands--I'm sure they're normally very nimble, what with all that guitar playing and iPad fondling.
Well, I used to be able to do up those necklace clasps, but no more. Bra straps are still okay in my testing.
I hear you. What I notice most is not being able to identify and locate objects in pockets. I feel around furiously and finally start hunting high and low everywhere else in the house only to eventually dump out the pocket and find the sought object. Big or small, my fingers have (i hope temporarily) lost their vision.
Andrea, it should be temporary for you, at least according to my experience and what I've heard. Last time I had neuropathy with a previous round of chemo treatments, it wasn't as severe and eventually dissipated after I switched to different treatments. Even now it gets better in the two weeks between my infusions; in fact it's slightly better today than when I wrote this post yesterday.
But after more than seven months of chemo, the tingling never goes away entirely. Since there's currently no plan to change anything, it's only likely to continue for me. I'm not sure if anyone knows whether it would be permanent if I did stop, for that matter. So I look at the numbness and fumbly fingers as a bother, but also a sign that I'm still alive—the same way I try to appreciate every new wrinkle and grey hair. Those aren't in short supply either!
Do you ever make use of Inspire Health? They might be able to tell you how effective acupuncture is for peripheral neuropathy. (I personally thought P.N. was the most irritating side effect I'd ever had, until they put me on a chemo with hand-foot-syndrome. It was absolutely hellish! And worst of all, that chemo turned out not to work for me) But, as you say,it's a sign we're still alive.
I'm not fond of the acupuncturist at IH, but I may talk to one of the doctors there if I decide to go that route.