Trying to deal with various pains and aches these last few months, I have accumulated a wide variety of what I think of, in more humorous moments, as “cancer-lifestyle accessories”–all kinds of things people give you or you acquire because maybe they will soothe an ache or prevent a pain or cushion your knee or keep a headache at bay. Or keep you from coughing at night, or help your numb foot, or cover your head, or…the list goes on and the stuff keeps accumulating. Some of it works out and becomes (temporarily?) critical to day-to-day life. Some things you try and they just aren’t the right thing. Some things I happily don’t need now though I have dozens: hats and scarves.
Some good stuff I depend on right now–accessories that would be sold along with me if I were Cancer-Lifestyle Barbie:
- Numerous pillows in various shapes and sizes, including an inflatable one for travel and one flattish one to put behind my back in the car to make the car seat less curvy, oh and the one I carry around to cushion my hurting knee when I sit down.
- Sunglasses. To keep the light out of my eyes because that triggers the headache.
- Sun hat. Ditto. Below is a picture of Jesse in my hat.
- Biofreeze Gel! It’s active ingredient is menthol and you rub it on what hurts you. In my case, my back mostly, but also my forehead and temples and back of my neck for headache; my shoulders, my knee, and sometimes my new sore spots on my foot. It is freezing and it basically drowns out the pain signals with tingly cold signals for 30 min to an hour. My friend Anne is a master at putting it on my back for a good long freeze! And the most accessorized part is this: I now have it in gel, and a spray (good for applying it to your own back in the middle of the night), and I have a different brand that rolls on (good for taking everywhere because you don’t have to wash it off your hands afterwards and with it I can reach most of the parts of my back that hurt). And now I even have some in a big pump bottle…things are getting seriously Biofreeze-dependent around here.
- Gel heel protector for my new neuropathy sore spots–not sure this is helping a lot but it makes sense to cushion that area. It slips on to my foot and just adds a little squish layer under my sock.
- Cloth sleep mask–useful for when the sun comes in the window in the morning and gives me a headache before I even wake up. Even more useful for when I have to lie face-up in a bright procedure room for a CT scan or whatever and stare up at fluorescent lights.
- Port protector: This one is hard to describe. I have a medication port just below my right collarbone, and it sticks out. Passenger-side seatbelts rub against it sometimes. A nurse at the chemo room gave me a neat little invention that a quilter relative of a fellow port-user made: it’s a disk of foam with a hole in the middle for the port, and on the top surface a strap that attaches it to the seatbelt. So you put in on the seatbelt and position it over the port and it cushions and protects the port. And it happens to be…purple! This would be a great present for anyone with a new and irritating port, but I can’t find the good kind online.
- 7-day pill organizers that constantly need to be reloaded!
- Smartphone with lots of alarms for medication times: It is constantly telling me it’s time to go take something. Very needy and demanding.
- Pedometer on my smartphone: I set a goal and at least I know whether I reached it or not every day. Some days I can, some days I can’t, but it motivates me to see it adding up.
Packing for trips involves a whole ‘nother layer of thinking and planning now. Even going out for an hour or two means some careful thinking ahead: I should take some Biofreeze in case I start to hurt, maybe some other painkillers ditto, and will it be a medication time while I’m out? Sunglasses even if it’s drizzly, and a pillow if I’m going to be sitting down anywhere for a while… it takes me about three tries to leave the house these days.