Tag Archive | itchiness

I Feel Human Again

As I feared, the hives moved onto my face. I woke up yesterday with my face all puffy and tight and my ears swollen so much the lobes wouldn’t even bend. Even Dr. Figura mentioned they looked “beefy.” Apparently, any kind of radiation reaction shouldn’t move much beyond the treatment area, and certainly all the way up to my face. He asked if I’d changed anything – moisturizer, shampoo, laundry detergent. No to anything I could think of. It seems the allergic reaction was becoming a systemic reaction, and it was time to up the meds to stop it.

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Dr. Figura gave me a prescription for a course of steroids and promised me I’d feel better within 24 hours. Good thing, because I was feeling pretty miserable. Sure enough, by the next morning, the swelling had reduced, and even the itching has mostly stopped. I’ll just have to hope I don’t get a rebound reaction once I’m done with this course. At least I tolerate the steroids pretty well – I don’t even have problems going to sleep after taking a full dose in the evening.

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Mitigated itchiness

The skin continues to itch, although it’s moved out of the “claw your skin off” level of itchiness I had on Monday. I did go back to the doctor and asked for something to help, because cool compresses and moisturizer did nothing to lower the level of itch. I am taking Zertec (I’m hoping I bought correctly and not just optimistically when I got the 12-pack instead of the 24-pack).

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I was also given a prescription for silver sulfadiazine, which is a silver-infused, sulfa-based antibiotic used for burn victims. You just smear it over the itchy parts, and eventually the itch goes away.

I find it amusing that the container is blue, since that's the color it can permanently turn your skin if you ingest too much silver.

I find it amusing that the container is blue, since that’s the color it can permanently turn your skin if you ingest too much silver.

Between the two items, the itch is manageable. The initial outbreak is starting to heal, with the hives crusting over and starting to subside. Sadly, the outbreak hasn’t stopped growing. I can easily see where I had treatment around my collarbone and up my neck, since it’s full of hives at this point.

Another treatment area, full of itch

Another treatment area, full of itch

The hives are also starting to bleed out of the treatment area. This morning, I woke up with hives on my ear lobes (really? the ear lobes?) and my right shoulder-blade (radiation goes right through the body). I’m hoping they don’t make it to my face. It takes a couple of days for the itch to subside, so I know I’m not out of the woods yet. Some day it will stop growing and I won’t itch constantly.

Oh, the Itchiness

One week left of radiation, and that will be focused specifically on my scar area. That’s the good news. The bad news is that apparently, I’m allergic to radiation. That’s the explanation Dr. Figura gave me this morning during my weekly visit to explain why the skin in my treatment area is just completely covered in bumps.

A taste of what my skin looks like.

A taste of what my skin looks like.

It started Friday morning on the underside of my expander and has grown to include the entire treatment area, plus a little bleed into the surrounding skin and up my collar-bone. The worst of it is the whole area itches, pretty much constantly. Dr. Figura’s suggestion was to keep it moisturized, but it isn’t itching because it’s dry. If I don’t touch the area, it’s not too bad, but my clothes rub and once I start itching, it’s so hard to stop. Sometimes I put moisturizer on just so I have an excuse to rub the area.

Sadly, itchiness is much harder to treat than peeling skin, but Dr. Figura did mention he had some medication that may help. I’ll be asking the nurse about it tomorrow morning, you can be sure.

The day after surgery

I only had to stay in the hospital overnight, so the day after my surgery I was headed home. Dr. Engel ordered me two post-surgical camisoles that could hold my drains and protect the incision site.

The surgical camisole

The surgical camisole

Sadly, it did not work for me at all. I was able to take off the Ace bandage 24 hours after surgery which I was grateful for since it was starting to itch underneath. I put the cami on instead. The nice part is it zips down the middle and it has pockets that velcro to the inner part of the cami to hold my two drains.

Notice the velcro pouch on the right and the strip of cloth under the zipper.

Notice the velcro pouch on the right and the strip of cloth under the zipper.

Unfortunately, that’s the only good thing I could say about it. I was given a size up so it wouldn’t put too much pressure on the incision site. That meant the bottom of the cami wouldn’t lay flat to my body when I sat because of the strip of cloth under the zipper, so I seriously looked pregnant. The center piece under the zipper totally itched and the strap went right over my port, pushing on it and making that hurt. Needless to say I was not at all comfortable. I took the cami off and went back to the Ace bandage. The trick is wrapping it tight enough so it won’t quickly slip off my chest, but not so tight that it itches or hurts any of the incision sites. I did keep the velcro pockets for the drains, sticking them directly to my button-down sweater during the day or the Ace bandage itself when I go to bed.

Good thing the sweater buttons, so I can leave the bottom ones for the drains.

Good thing the sweater buttons, so I can leave the bottom ones undone for the drains.

You can see how the drains stick to the sweater, as well as the Ace bandage wrapped around my chest - tight enough to stay up, but loose enough not to itch.

You can see how the drains stick to the sweater, as well as the Ace bandage wrapped around my chest.

 

The drive home from the hospital was also a bit painful. I didn’t need a pillow to go under the seatbelt, as others had indicated was helpful. The problem I found was every bump we went over jarred my body and made it ache even more. I’ve also found that shivering is one of the more painful activities that I can do. Overall, though, the pain is lessening every day. So far, I feel better in the evening that I do in the morning so I know everything is healing.

My biggest annoyance is probably the itchiness. I’m not allowed to shower until the drains come out (and that won’t be until Monday at the earliest). At least I don’t have much hair right now, but the stuff they used to clean my skin before surgery made me a lovely shade of orange and everything itches. I’ve had to ask StatsGuy to scrub my back with a washcloth, since I can’t easily reach. I have noticed, when I’m gently scratching on my right side, that my armpit and underside of my upper arm are quite numb. Dr. Engel did mention there are two nerves he had to watch out for during the surgery – a motor nerve, which he was able to keep clear of, and a sensory nerve, that got a little roughed up in the surgery. We’ll see if sensation comes back to that area any time soon.