Chemo 2

After the frustrating delay of an entire week due to my neutrophils being low, I had my bloods tested again last Monday and was happy not to receive a phonecall this time. So it was all systems go for Wednesday. My appointment was at 11.30am which meant the whole day was taken up with preparing, having the treatment and then resting.

Anyway, rewind to the beginning. The car park was pretty full when we arrived and sure enough, the waiting room was equally busy. I was kept waiting for a short while, before being collected by a nurse whom I hadn’t seen before – it amazes me how I have never had the same nurse twice for any of my tests or as it now turns out, either of my treatments. I got a pleasant surprise when I was informed that my treatment was taking place in the Macmillan unit (for all of the patients with blood cancer) instead of the oncology room where I was last time, dedicated to patients with tumours. The Macmillan room was far bigger, friendlier and we didn’t have to sit on top of other patients, unlike the other room. The nurse joked that once you’ve been to this room, you’ll never want to go back to the other room. Well, I can tell you, that is no joke and I may just play dumb next time and walk into the wrong room.

I took a seat in the corner by the cold capping machine and was promptly visited by the people from the Lewis Foundation who had popped in last time with a load of freebies. This time, I opted for the trivia pack which contained a set of question cards, playing cards, boiled sweets and a letter from someone in Australia which is part of an initiative for people in hospital. The letter is meant to reach out to people who may need a friend or cheering up during their hospital stay. The next visit was from the lunch trolley, followed by the volunteer making hot drinks – talk about 4 star service! Then the nurse, who was absolutely lovely, came to do my checks and noticed I was feeling quite hot (not like me at all!) and that my oxygen could do with increasing. I took some deep breaths and that soon increased the level, phew! She commented that I have nice veins, again as we know that is not usually the case, and she set about inserting the cannula.

As I had decided to continue with the cold cap (I’ve probably kept about 50% of my hair) I then had to go and wet my thinning hair and add some conditioner. Once I retook my seat, the nurse set up a saline flush, gave me my steroids and some more anti-sickness medication. I had already taken the ‘Rolls Royce’ version at home that morning and I was now given the ‘Skoda’ equivalent to anti-sickness. Still, I’m not complaining, anything to keep the nausea at bay. Meanwhile, I could feel the saline going up my arm – it felt like I was leaking – very strange!

Then it was time to secure the cold cap. I was surprised to find that I was still a large size, despite losing all that hair. It was less of an ordeal getting the cap onto my head this time and I didn’t feel the same amount of pain as I did the first time. So I settled under my blanket and picked up my thermos cup containing lemon and ginger tea.

Does the cold cap make me look like a jockey? In that case , where’s my horse?

Hubby, well trained after the first session, starting calling out the crossword clues. I could join in with reading them this time though, through a stroke of genius on my Mum’s part. When I mentioned that my normal glasses would not fit over the cold cap last time, Mum suggested buying a cheap pair of reading glasses, which I did and this worked a treat.

They say time flies, and it certainly did. I couldn’t believe it was already 1.40pm before my chemo infusions began. Just like last time, the nurse had to sit and administer each injection, starting with Epirubicin. This is the bright red one that makes your wee go red and the evil one that makes your hair fall out. Three of those wretched things were followed by two lots of Cyclophosphamide. This one gives you sinus pain so it helps to suck on a mint. Then finally, Fluorourcacil, which gives off a strange metallic taste, so again a mint is advisable. My arm again went strangely cold and a bit achy. I also noticed a strange tingling sensation in my eyebrows. Whilst these fluids were being given the nurse chatted to us about various things, including her own employment history. Turns out she was a midwife in 1999 when our son was born. We will have a look at his baby book to see if she was there when he was delivered.

Once the chemo was done, the nurse brought me my goody bag, containing anti-sickness tablets, steroids and some mouthwash to prevent the soreness that I experienced in my last cycle. I then turned my attention to the cheese sandwich that I had chosen from the lunch trolley. It really wasn’t worth the wait as the bread had gone limp due to the cucumber and I suddenly couldn’t face the taste of tomato. So that was the end of that. Luckily I had brought some ginger cookies and a nutella bar from home. Hubby raced off to the cafe for his bacon sandwich – wouldn’t be the same if he didn’t. On his return, bacon sandwich demolished, he made me a mint tea (again brought from home) and we continued with some crossword puzzles while the cold cap machine did its thing.

My lovely nurse who had been looking after me very well, suddenly had to make her excuses as the had to meet a patient for a pre-assessment. That left me at the mercy of a nurse who was clearly in training and had never used a cold cap machine before, eek! Between us, however, we worked it out – just switch it off after the allotted time and then wait 10 minutes before removing the cap. This turned out to be a good 30 minutes so there were no icicles left on my head on this occasion. By 4.30pm we left the unit and returned home.

I was extremely tired and already losing my appetite by the time I got home. That just left me to have a light dinner and go to bed. As I was dozing on the bed, I woke up at one point and honestly didn’t have a clue where I was! I can only put it down to the massive cocktail of drugs that had gone into my body that afternoon – scary!

So that’s it – 2 down, 4 to go. All being well, the next one (half way mark) will take place on the 27th March. Let’s hope there are no more delays so this part of the treatment can be out of the way as soon as possible.


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