A brief medical evaluation of 6 weeks in Europe

I am thrilled to be home. Carrie is too. The cats have been getting a lot of petting for the last 46 hours or so.

It was nice not to have a doctor’s office visit for six weeks–I barely remembered what that was like. I will see my onco this Thursday so I’m back on that clock now. I also will have my first CT scan on Lenvima in August and I am for once eagerly anticipating the results.

I can’t say I was able to operate in full denial mode while in Europe (my preferred way of dealing with the “watch and wait” before this current phase where I had zero control and there was nothing to do), as one or another side effect of Lenvima or its companion drugs rose to the level of my attention each day.  But happily, fatigue does not seem to be one of them: Berlin was absurdly busy, with sometimes up to four different events or meetups in a single day.  I tired out eventually but it didn’t seem any worse than usual.  And the pain mostly didn’t affect my mood or my enjoyment of my travels and my surroundings.

A brief tabulation of the results of the experiment:

I can handle the stress of going from event to event up to a point.  But I do need to be more mindful of downtime, resting, drawing boundaries, making priorities and sticking to them, etc. This bodes well for being on Lenvima during a normal teaching semester.

My hands are about the same as when I left, and plane travel makes them worse, but they do recover.  Cotton gloves at night, with a bunch of goo smeared on my fingers beforehand, seem to also help.

The new annoyance was definitely my feet.  They flared up in Aarhus and ebbed and flowed the rest of the time.  There were some evenings where I was too sore to walk back to the u-bahn or bus and took a cab home instead.  And cobblestones aren’t great for foot pain either.  I brought home about 12 packages of the blister bandages that work well for me, and it looks like I can order more here, so at least that’s manageable.  

I did have to request a chair or seek one out at a couple of “standing” events, including a very cool gestural performance event two nights before we left. If I’m honest with myself, this did make me feel a bit weak or crip or old or whatever, and not in a way I liked, but I asked for the accommodation, I used it, and I was glad I did. I will continue to do so.

I have intermittent stiffness which slows down my walking, especially when I first get up. C’est la vie.

Dizziness continues to be a thing, but it is definitely on its own part-time schedule. I notice it on some staircases but not all (I always hold the railing now which, again, makes me feel old but also a little punk rock when I’m on the left side going against traffic), and occasionally unexpectedly at inopportune times, like when standing at the top of a Soviet War Monument (I made it down, carefully), or while peeing in a stuffy little bathroom in Provence (don’t worry: my aim was true).

I have no idea if the “avoid prolonged exposure to the sun” warning on some of my meds caused the nasty heat rash I got as it hit 40 degrees, or if I should just not hang out in 40 degree weather.

We ended our six-week journey in Europe with a week of vacation in Provence.  Vacation, it turns out, is great for everything.  My skin behaved better, my feet mostly healed except for a brief flare-up, and even though my pharmacy shorted me on one of my blood pressure medication (fuck, I thought I counted all my meds before leaving!), my BP stayed relatively close to normal.  It was hotter than hell, but we had a rental car with air conditioning, and our hosts had both shade and a pool.  Honestly, the heat probably helped us aspire to do less and relax more.  I read the news every day, and I read two interesting books: David Wallace-Wells’ The Uninhabitable Earth (which was apropos for a 40 degree heat wave in southern France), and Mary Gray and Siddharth Suri’s Ghost Work, which is always relevant so long as you’re connected to anything that claims to be a “platform” or “automated”—which just means it doesn’t want to tell you about the discounted human labour on which it relies.