In today’s cancer post, I’m going to talk about how treatment affects tolerance ranges. It is very simple, it makes them smaller, narrower. Here are examples of this (and please bear with me, it’s just for info that I’m sharing this, not for pity!):
- Temperature: I get cold as soon as it gets cool, but I burn up as soon as it gets a tiny little bit warmer. My ideal temperature range is between 15 and 21 degrees. Beyond that, I experience various discomforts. I can’t for example put my hand over a pot to feel if it’s getting hot, I burn faster than the food. This also applies to water. I can’t possibly go into a pool, I’ll become frozen fish fingers in a second. I can’t go into a hot tub/jacuzzi either, it’s so hot it hurts. I shower in luke warm water. Same thing for foods and drinks. I drink my tea a bit cool and can’t drink anything from the fridge, “cold” drinks at room temperature are the best. When I go for a walk, my jacket goes on and off every two minutes. Does that count as exercise? 🙂
- Spice: Everything is too spicy. I can only eat bland food. A hint of chillies and I’m in agony. Mustard is too strong. The only spice I tolerate is tiny amounts of wasabi because it doesn’t last and I love sushi. But the rest needs to be bland, bland, bland. Raw onion burns. Too much salt, my mouth shrivels up. Too much of anything, my digestive system makes me pay. What I love is cooked fresh fish (without spices), chopped up tomatoes in olive oil, ice cream, sushi, fresh fruit, cooked apples, etc. I can’t even eat real cheese anymore, it burns. For a Swiss person, that’s a bit of an identity crisis 🙂
Oh and that applies to toothpaste and mouthwash as well. I am constantly on the lookout for milder toothpastes. I am currently trying Colgate’s aloe toothpaste and Meridol’s mouthwash, which I can’t quite hold in for 30 seconds but it’s better than nothing.
- Light: Oh the beautiful South African sun, how I fear you now! I cannot step outside without dark sunglasses, unless there are dark clouds all over the place (not common in this part of the world). I will probably never go and hang out at the beach again. Between the sun, the sand and the reflection on the water, my eyes hurt quite bad and just stop working. They water like I’ve stuck a stick in them and won’t stop unless I keep them closed for 10 minutes at least. Great time to squeeze in a little meditation 🙂
Even when looking at screens I can’t tolerate high contrast. I can’t keep gazing at my phone at night, it makes my eyes water. But that last one is a good thing I think. But also, unless there is enough light, I can’t see a thing anymore. That may be related with age. About 6 months ago, I started wearing glasses and it helps, but when my eyes don’t want to, they don’t. Yay for audiobooks… 🙂
- Sun: If the sun can reach any part of me, that part burns. Literally. I feel it burn up and with my eyes closed, I can tell you which square centimetres of my skin are exposed and which aren’t. I take it for a few minutes, like when walking under trees, there are always holes. As long as I’m not spending a lot of time exposed, I’m ok. Also, that means I have sun screen all the time if I have to go out, and I really don’t like sunscreen, and I always have a hat along with the sunglasses. The only part of my body where I enjoy some sunshine is the lower half of my legs, but that doesn’t happen very often. By now I must be the whitest person I know. Oh well 🙂
- Skin: By now, you’ll have figured out that I have silly sensitive skin that has to stay within a narrow range of temperature, light, etc. Because of my hand foot syndrome (see previous post on the subject), I can only use very mild soaps as well. The tolerance I have for rough surfaces even is tiny. I can’t walk barefoot on the tiled bathroom floor, the grit between the tiles feels like blades digging into my feet. Hands, same thing. If I touch any edge that isn’t soft and rounded, I feel like I am being cut to pieces. This is not only on the outside either. I cannot floss because floss might cause injuries in my mouth and that poses a risk of infection. The bristles on the toothbrush need to be just mild enough. I live in tekkies (sneakers/jogging shoes/…) and if I walk too much, even my most worn in soft sports shoes will give me blisters. I guess I’m not going to any fancy functions in heels anytime soon 🙂
I could go on. But that’s not the point. Sure, it sucks to not be able to live the full range of light, temperature, spice, sun, etc. But that does not mean that my world is smaller, rather the opposite. I have discovered much smaller, subtle detail in all the ranges that I do tolerate. If anything, it’s a journey of discovery into a new perspective on things. I am mainly putting these examples here for others who may have the same symptoms of narrowing tolerance ranges, because it’s always good to know that one is not alone. Also, having more than one perspective on something is generally quite helpful I’ve found.
Another thing. This is about quality of life. And I have a really good quality of life. To get to good temperatures when it’s scorching hot, I go to air conditioned places like the gym or the mall; there is always a new book that I’d love to dig into. When it’s too bright, I have great sunglasses, and for once I really appreciate having invested in quality glasses far beyond the thrill of buying something fancy. When food is too spicy, I drink a glass of milk, and I love milk so that’s always nice. When I burn up, I love the feeling of putting my hands in cool water, or the cooling sensation of a nice lotion. It is always about perspective, I choose to focus on the pleasure of relief of discomforts, not on their onset. That’s just one of the things sort of in my control.