Wednesday, 16 February 2011

One arm bandit...

One arm bandit, cool hand Luke or even quick draw magraw! Any of those nicknames would have done, but no! My arm has been nicknamed 'floppy penis arm'. To be honest, since the nerve block to my arm it does just hang there and i still can't move or feel it from my shoulder to my wrist. Aside from the pain free bliss I've been in for a week and a half, it has given me and my friends some hysterical moments of laughter and also a frustrating moment of embarrassment ( i was alone for that). But fortunately i am right handed and it truly is amazing how quickly we adapt to a situation and work with what we've got.

The pets seem to detect when i'm
out of sorts or in pain. This was taken
the night before the arm block. They wouldn't
leave my side for days.
Let's start with a normal morning. Say the shower. Now don't forget since i had the total node dissection to my groin (my left leg i might add), i still have to lift my leg to get it over the edge of the bath or in the car and so on. So imagine that act with one good arm lifting the leg and the other just hanging there (also my left arm) but don't worry, i did it broken bones and Mum was close by just in case. Now, wash your hair. Normally i would pour shampoo from the bottle with one hand into the other hand then place it on my head. Simple! But with flopsy i can't even turn my hand to catch the shampoo i'm pouring into it, so i had to pour the shampoo directly from the bottle onto my head. Obviously my quantity judgement was out because by the time i put the bottle back on the shelf the shampoo was pouring down my face like I'd been slimed and when i lathered it up i looked like I'd been in a foam party! I swear it took me twenty minutes to get the shampoo out and my hair was squeaky clean. Now I've got it sussed. i hold the bottle between my knees, squeeze tight and squirt the shampoo into my good hand that way. Genius!! I like to call it Kiwi ingenuity. Where there's a will there's a way.

Then there's simple things like putting deodarant on. You can't just lift your arm and spray. I have to pick my left arm up with my right, rest it on the dressing table, bend my knees to open the armpit area and spray. Think about it. Give it a try even. You'll be surprised how the smallest things become the most difficult.

One evening i even thougth i'd be extra clever and paint my nails. I am a Beauty Therapist afterall. How hard could it be? I'm right handed, flopsy only has to do five nails! Well i started off great guns, as you'd expect and then it came to flopsies turn to paint the right hand. Firstly i had to dunk the brush into the bottle with my right hand and place it between the fingers of my far so good. I then figured because i couldn't move my left hand or grip the brush firmly to do the brush strokes i would pull my nail of the right hand along the brush instead. Easy-peasy! It only took five minutes to paint my right hand...but let me let you into a little secret. It also then took an hour to get the nail polish off my skin! But the satisfaction i get from not letting something like that beat me is well worth the time and effort.

Now lets move to the kitchen. Because the arm tends to ache at the shoulder because it's a dead weight, if i don't have a pocket i pick it up and place it on the bench. So this particular day, Mum was folding my washing for me and i was making us a cup of tea. You can do that with one hand! I was in the process of filling the water filter jug to pour into the kettle. I rested my dead arm on the handle of the jug as a weight so i could pull the lid off and because i have no feeling in my hand i forgot i had my hand in the handle of the jug. As I swung round to talk to mum, the jug was still in my hand but instead of just stopping i ended up in a process like a dog chasing its tail with my good hand trying to catch my dead hand and the jug. I was spinning round in circles saying to Mum 'help me catch it' but as i caught a glimpse of her she was standing there, legs crossed about to wet herself, laughing hysterically. Consequently, i now put the dead arm in a sling so i know exactly where it is.

Now for the embarrassing one. I don't know why I'm so honest with you all sometimes but with cancer you have your good days and your bad. Your funny times and your sad and i figure if you're going to read all about my journey you may as well know it all.

So this particular day it was decided that my G.P was going to ring me and we were going to discuss all the medication i was on. With being in so much pain before the arm block and having on call Doctors add new painkillers to the mix my Oncology team wanted to make sure i was taking the medication i needed to be taking. Also because my angel Dr Ramos (the arm block guy) wasn't sure how long it was going to last initially, the maximum doses were all left as they were. But as it was 4 days in and all was looking good, we decided to reduce some of the higher dose medications. As it turned out i was feeling really tired that day and decided to have a little afternoon kip. I didn't want to go upstairs because it would've been sods law that Dr Graham (my lovely G.P) would ring, so i decided to lay on the couch. Being blond and highly intelligent i had my head down by the phone so i could grab it with my good arm if he rang...not thinking my dead arm and dodgy leg were on the edge of the couch. It turned out i went into such a deep sleep and was there for over an hour. The phone didn't ring but when i woke up i was bursting to go to the toilet. Forgetting i had a dead arm, i leaned over to get up off the couch, my arm collapsed like spaghetti and i fell onto the floor. Well with my dodgy leg, if I'm on the floor it takes some mighty manoeuvring to get up anyway and that's with two fully functioning arms. So there i am on the floor, I've got a blanket tangled round me and like a walrus I'm trying to stand up! Don't worry, I do get up and unharmed and run to the loo with flopsy swinging by my side. Now is the embarrassing bit. Try pulling your top up out the way of your trousers and your trousers and knickers down with one hand at warp speed. Don't forget you can't just pull your trousers down on one side. You have to go all the way around your waist with that one hand. Try it next time you go to the toilet. Put one hand on your head and actually try it one day. Believe my it is a mission, let alone when your bursting. So needless to say i wet myself! I was mortified but more so relieved that Joe wasn't home to have seen his mum wet herself. Once i changed i sat there on the edge of my bed and had one of those feel sorry for myself moments. I thought, i can't have surgery...arm blocks are fantastic for pain but that leaves me with a completely useless arm...and I'm pinning all my hopes on a trial drug that may not work. So for all you lovely people out there that leave me such wonderful messages of how brave i am and how i inspire you all, please know i have bad days too. We all do. But you know what i did. I thought about how bloody funny i must have looked rolling round the floor like a walrus. I remembered how much pain i was in before the arm block and how quickly i have adapted to the use of one arm. I went out and bought some tena lady (at 41 years old) to prevent any further accidents and i reminded myself that i am still alive and i am positive that trial is going to work and shrink these tumors.


  1. lol lisa you do crack me up, i love how your seeing the funny side to this. when i come over and see you i will be armed with a video camera just incase lmao xx

  2. Hi,

    I have a quick question about your blog, would you mind emailing me when you get a chance?