Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vein, Folliculitis, Fingernails

Up-date- Vein, Folliculitis and Fingernails

Sept 16, 2013 to Sept 24, 2013

For a quick up-date read no further and know that I am still here, yes!  For a longer up-date, read on…

My  Vein
A few nights ago, my mind began replaying a recent conversation with my oncologist.  I realized at that moment that I had blocked from my mind something that really scared me.  Before that conversation, I had been almost consumed with what will happen if the tumor between my lungs continues to grow in such a way that it completely compresses the vein that it is nestled beside. For some reason, my oncologist didn’t mention this to me.  I found out about it after reading my radiology report while my husband drove us home.  It read, Once again demonstrated is the right superior mediastinal mass encasing innominate artery and abutting right subclavian vein with mild narrowing of right subclavian vein without change compared to the prior CT on 3/29/2013.  No narrowing of the right innominate artery.  When I addressed this issue to Dr. R. during my last appointment, she said that a stent could be placed in the vein to prevent complete closure.  I then asked how I would know or what would happen to me physically if the vein was narrowed further. She explained that since blood is going back to the heart through the vein I would notice swelling in my neck area.  So, now I know what to look for physically.  I like to be prepared.  And, I now have a possible solution to a situation that really would be a huge problem for me.

As I expected, those ugly, painful sores have appeared on my head.  Since my oncologist really didn’t explain to me what this was, I decided to do an internet search to see if other people experienced the same thing.  I found in fact they do.  Red, painful bumps on the scalp may be the result of folliculitis. Here is how a website described it. .   Folliculitis is an infection and inflammation of the hair follicles. The follicles can become red and irritated, and form pus-filled lesions that resemble pimples. And yes, cancer patients and other people with depressed immune systems (such as those with AIDS and organ transplants) are more at risk. Folliculitis is actually caused by bacteria, such as staphylococcus aureus. Fungal and viral infections, or even chemical-based irritation, can also cause it. Cancer patients often experience it on the scalp, but it can also appear elsewhere on the body, like the legs and buttocks. It’s not particularly dangerous, just irritating and uncomfortable.

This has to be what I have.  Wow, how fun!

This website gives additional information about the condition.

I am treating this by using hypoallergenic soap, cleansing the area with hydrogen peroxide, and then applying tea tree oil to the sores.  I am not sure if any of this has really helped.

Hip Pain
On September 15, I experienced unusual left hip pain.  The pain was more severe than I had ever felt.  It came from deep within my hip joint.  That afternoon, my family and I took a walk through our neighborhood.  I felt the pain, but I was hoping the walk would somehow make it feel better.  By evening, it really started to hurt.  Luckily, a heating pad made the pain less severe.  I wish I had had some Tylenol, but I had no such luck. 

The next morning, my hip was still sore.  Of course I worried what the cause might be.  Every little pain is not just a little pain anymore.  By September 17, I was completely pain free.  This pain had to be the result of the Neulasta shot… or the chemo induced menopause… or maybe it was the Herceptin... Why one hip and not the other?  Who knows?  I will wait and see if the roulette wheel of side effects targets the other hip, or perhaps both during the next round of treatment.

The evening of September 20, 2013 I met a friend for coffee.  We had a wonderful time sitting outside talking about all the different happenings occurring with our families.  When I arrived home, the caffeine affect from my coffee was just a bit too much.  I knew I would not be going to sleep anytime soon. 

I sat down to work on a quilt I am making and to watch a movie.  I am not sure when the sensation started, but as I put the quilt pieces together I noticed my ring-finger fingernail on my left hand was hurting.  It actually had the sensation that I had burned the center of the fingernail.  I tried to remember if anything had occurred that evening that could have injured that particular nail.  I could think of nothing. 

Morning came and the fingernail no longer hurt, but when I looked at it, I was brought to tears.  The middle of my fingernail was white.  This was the same white that I was told would occur when a fingernail is separating from the nail bed.   I guess that means no more dish-washing for me.  Crap, this is not how I wanted to get out of washing dishes.  A new dishwasher to replace the broken one would have been a much nicer end to this necessary task. 

Days later and my fingernail is still attached, at least everywhere but the middle.   Why one fingernail and not the others?   I am not looking forward to how this assault on my fingernail (s) from chemo is going to turn out.


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  2. I'm glad you're writing this. Your ability to research is amazing.. and apparently necessary. It blows my mind how much the doctors aren't bothering to mention. Unbelievable.

    Hopefully your time and efforts to research these side effects will help someone else.. or a lot of someone elses.

  3. Hi Susan, Thank you so much for being so supportive of me. Yes, I am hoping that my research might help someone in my situation, but most likely is boring reading for others.
    Thanks again, you are a true friend.