If anyone has seen my muscle strength somewhere, could you please ask it to return to me? I miss it. :)
Seriously, I did not realize I would lose so much muscle strength during the course of chemo. I wasn’t in spectacular physical shape when I started treatment, but I was probably in the best shape I’ve ever been. Barry and I had been exercising regularly, my muscles were fairly strong and somewhat toned. After six months of chemo, my muscles are like jello. No, I’m not sure they are as firm as jello. Or, as one of my friend’s moms likes to say, “I’m as weak as water.” :)
I am estimating here, but it seems like my muscles are about 50% weaker than they’ve ever been, especially in my arms and legs.
The most interesting thing about this is that I don’t think I read or heard anything that prepared me for how quickly or drastically the muscles would deteriorate. Most articles and reports warned me about the side effects such as fatigue, nausea, hair loss (which, thankfully, I did not experience), peripheral neuropathy (numbness in hands and feet), and memory loss. What I didn’t see – or possibly saw and dismissed as nothing – were the warnings about muscle loss, which comes with the peripheral neuropathy.
Chemotherapy-induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN) is most often thought of as numbness or tingling in the hands and feet. I did experience the numbness in my legs and feet during treatment, usually for a week after infusion and then it would gradually go away. As I kept reading about CIPN, I found out that two other symptoms are shrinking muscles and muscle weakness. Hmmm….. Didn’t know that.
Now, I’ll readily admit that I have not thrown myself wholeheartedly (or even half-heartedly) into working out since I finished my primary treatment in January. I know I can (and will) get the strength back, but I am just shocked at how little there is to work with. I’m back on the treadmill doing intervals of walking and running, so it’s a start. I also found a good article from Prevention with some exercises for strengthening my arms. Looks like I’ve got a lot of work to do…. And maybe some spinach to eat. :)
Have a great week!