Tuesday, 21 June 2011

The Chemo Lounge: Round 2 of 4

I arrived at the hospital in time for my blood test at 12pm. Before every treatment your blood is checked to be sure that your body is up for the onslaught. The results are marked "Urgent" so that by the time I met with the oncologist at 1.30pm he was satisfied for the treatment to go ahead. I mentioned the banging headache I had for a day after my first dose of chemo. He believed it to be a side effect of Zofran - an anti-nausea and vomiting medication. He immediately recommended that I take Pramin and Dexamethasone instead. And of course, only take Zofran if I felt the nausea coming on. I was so relived. I have been told the whole way that no one needs to be a hero. If something is not right or there are any unpleasant side effects that all I needed to do was to make a phone call. So true. The doctors really want to make the chemo ride as endurable as it can be. Great doctors. He gave me some antibiotics for the lady-problem I had last time! Yeah! So, should that reoccur I felt very happy that I would be able to manage it on my own. I also mentioned to the doctor that both my children were unwell. I was concerned as to how I was going to manage them and also avoid catching their bug. He replied that if I didn't "bathe in their mucous" that I would be ok. Easy. It was more the germs in my own body that were of concern.

I returned to the clinic, which wasn't as full as previous visits, and waited to be called into "Day Care". I was as much prepared as I could be. How do you prepare for chemo? Well, there are actually things you can do. For starters, the most difficult part of the session is the insertion of the cannula. I learned, after my first round, that if you are warm and have had loads of water your veins are easier to find. I was warm and full of water. The nurse even complimented me on my "plump" veins. Unfortunately, my veins were wiggly (a medical term?) so it ended up taking three goes before the cannula was in and good enough to aid in the gift of chemo to my healthy body.

The third week in the cycle (last week), I really felt terrific. So in that regard, I also believed that I had done the best I could in getting my health up so as to be in the best position to receive the damaging drugs. Yesterday, I had taken my dexamethasone, chemo preparation drugs, so I was set.

Oh, I nearly, forgot about my children. My sick children. I reluctantly handed the baton onto my babysitter knowing full well that sick children were more of a challenge. They were in capable hands, of course, so there really was no need to worry. My chemo buddy drove me in and before long I was greeted by my unofficial breast cancer support group. Words cannot describe what it means to share all the experiences with others who are going through it too. Lots of thanks to those that helped in anyway yesterday! There is no way we are meant to do life, whether good or bad, alone!

I was called in. My turn. I had a faint spell when the first cannula failed. And, when the nurse brought in a wet blanket (yes, not a wet cloth, a blanket), to put on my head, I felt so stupid. Always with the drama.

Once the cannula was in (third time lucky), it was simply a matter of being patient as the drugs slowly entered my system. I know I talked my head off to my chemo support buddy; I do that when I'm nervous. So, I was very surprised when she offered to do it again. Seriously.

As the women sit in "Day Care" they chat, laugh and smile warmly at each other. It's incredible. Aren't cancer patients meant to be down, gaunt and miserable? So much can be said about shared adversity. But, I'll leave that for another entry.

At 5.45pm, my last bag was taken down. Another treatment was over. I'm halfway! Before I left I was given my drugs.

There was something new, in addition to my four lots of medication. A needle. The nurse asked me whether I would give it to myself! Was she for real? The needle was to be given exactly 24 hours after the chemo finished, 5.45pm. tomorrow. I have a few nurse connections so that wasn't going to be a problem. The problem lay in the fact that I had heard that the needle, which activates white blood cell production in your bones (which drop to dangerously low levels), can cause nasty aches and pains. No! Me and Pain are not friends. There is no compromise in that relationship. So, I'll let you know how that all goes...

When I arrived home, feeling pretty good, I was greeted by a very sick child number two. Child number two wasn't eating, smiling or interacting; traits that come so easy to this little bundle of joy. A trip to the doctor was in order. Antibiotics were prescribed and received well. However, I guessed that it was not going to be an easy night. It looked as though there was going to be a competition for who was going to be the most sick and miserable human in our household. Going from the last round of chemo, I had a strong feeling that it wasn't going to be me.

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