Yet Another Side Effect: Paralysis

It’s been awhile.

Like all of us, I’ve been dealing with the restrictions of COVID-19. Couple that with the long-term chemotherapies I’m taking, and it’s been a difficult few months.

But something happened that has altered my life almost as much as the cancer itself.

My right arm is now completely paralyzed.

I never thought this could happen. I’d never known it was possible. And yet it is a rare but real side effect that can happen when scar tissue, repeated radiation, and multiple surgeries impact the arm/shoulder area, leading to a diagnosis of brachial plexus injury (BPI).

And so I am relearning how to write, cook, and live as a lefty. Everything takes longer. I drop cups, I knock my pill bottles over. My right arm hangs limp like a floppy fish. I wear a compression sleeve and sling to keep my arm from flapping about. My husband fills out forms, my daughter helps me dress. I need help chopping vegetables.

There has been some grief about this loss, and anger too. But I am trying to remember that I can still walk, listen, sing, laugh, see. I can write slowly. I can read.

Mostly, I am alive.

These are good things to remember.

I hope that you are staying safe and healthy, too.




9 thoughts on “Yet Another Side Effect: Paralysis”

  1. I hear you. I have not been able to use right dominant hand for over 2 years though in some positions when lying down I cn no longer lift the arm and if I lift it with my left hand it flops back hard on to my face if not careful. My greatest issue to never be out of relentless neuropathic pain is what makes me craziest. I can now write quite well left handed though much of it gets the right sided pain going. I would love to hear of any things that can make one handed life easier. Love to you as you to carry on doing new things and in different ways. Love Marian


    1. Marion! So good to hear from you. I’m so sorry that you, too, have suffered from BPI. I remember reading on the bc community that you were struggling with pain and dosages. I’ve managed to find an adaptive cutting board for one-handed slicing and also bought a shower chair. The sling also helps. So good to hear from you and hope you are doing well!


      1. I missed your reply and hope so much that you see this. Have been thinking of you and have questions. Yes the pain is ongoing but I also am now facing new progressions and will have chemo starting Wednesday something I thought I would not do again. Never say never and so it goes. But today the Doctor Who did my embedded intrathecal pump surgeries told me that he has an idea. On Tuesday next week he will do a supra clavicular anaesthetic injection to see if it will numb and perhaps make the pain way less. If that works he is willing to do a phenol injection that would give me a floppy arm. Right now I have no use of my hand and have not had any use for years but I can still move my arm which does have its uses. However the pain is ridiculous and the opiates I’m on still need breakthrough ketamine, oral ketamine and methadone. Now that you have been one armed for quite a while what do you think? Because it has been nearly 3 years of no use of my right hand I am very good with left-handed stuff. I do have a cutting board and knives that are special and my writing and printing is quite good. I just don’t know whether I should take this drastic step. To be out of pain though would make such a difference in my life. Because of the drugs and the pain that happens when I am not lying down my activity level has may be quite sedentary and this after being a trekker for so long. Please let me know also if we can communicate by email rather than this way. I think you get my email when I reply but just in case it is
        A website is required also which I do not fully understand. I have been using our old sailing blog from when Dick was crossing oceans. I am so hoping to hear from you. Love Marian


  2. So good to hear from you. I have found that learning to be a leftie does take practice but I am now writing in cursive albeit slowly. How is your pain level now? Love to hear how your family is helping too. I find it to be a roller coaster and summer has been a blessing though late here in BC. XXOO marian


  3. I’m sorry about your loss. Thank you for your honesty and openness in sharing your journey. It is a true gift. May unforseen blessings show up for you. Lots of love.

    Vicki Lapp


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