I haven’t said much about the ongoing course of Chemotherapy I was undertaking.
It was timed for once every three weeks. Apparently the body’s immune system is at its very lowest some fifteen days after the treatment so they allow you about another week to get slightly more back to normal before dosing you with the next lot. When it was all over I worked it out and reckon they had given me about a bucketful of the stuff.
I found the first three or four treatments did not affect me too badly. At the first infusion I had nearly passed out (something I have only done once in my life – but that is another story). After this it was decided that the Piriton, which is given to allay the effects of the chemicals used in the chemotherapy, was being given to me too quickly and when it was administered more slowly I had less reaction.
What I did hate was the endless needles. I have always had a needle phobia, to the extent that I have to turn away if someone on the films or television is about to have an injection, and of course now I had to have a blood test prior to the treatment, then on the day the drugs for the chemo were put in via a vein in ones hand or arm. And not only this, the chemo apparently affect the veins making it more difficult to access them or get blood out.
The second trip to the hospital involved me visiting the Blood Clinic, and the man who tried to get blood had to have three or four goes, probably not helped by the fact he was discussing when his lunch-hour was to be whilst poking about in my veins. In the end he gave up and got another nurse to ‘have a go’ well in fact several goes, until in the end I really felt I had to call a halt to the proceedings. Sally told me to ‘smile as it would feel better’ But I have to say I was pretty certain it wouldn’t and I was all out of smiles by then.
But I knew I had to have blood samples taken, and I suddenly remembered that when in France they had fitted something in the shoulder area of my chest. Could this be used to take a blood sample. Apparently yes, but the Blood Clinic said they could not do it as they ‘might introduce an infection’ ????
So off up to the Chemo Ward where the nice nurses were a bit fazed by the piece of equipment which had been fitted in my shoulder, and sent for a senior nurse who expertly, efficiently, and moderately painlessly, managed to get some blood samples. Not only that, but it was decided that after it had been flushed they could use it for the chemo infusion next time. So when I went in for my second appointment I was far more relaxed thinking that I wouldn’t need to have yet another thing stuck in my veins.
Its good that we can’t always see the future as it would probably be too off-putting. As one of the other nurses had watched the procedure last time she was delegated to ‘have a go’ . I felt reasonably relaxed until the third ‘go’ – when I suggested maybe she call in reinforcements.
And so it was, on and off over the next few months, until I became tearful at the mere thought of having to have blood taken or things inserted in my veins, and even typing this is making me feel sorry for myself and giving me a lump in my throat. But things just have to be done, and one just has to be as brave as possible.
Sally’s business was thriving and taking up more and more of her time, and now I was used to the procedures I was quite happy getting to the appointments under my own steam. Though she did come with me for the results of my scan and was delighted for me with the vast improvement.
At that meeting it was decided I might as well have the last two chemo infusions. I think I would have liked to demur, but I knew I would be overruled, and who know who is right or wrong in such circumstances? What I did notice was that the last two treatments of the six hit me a lot harder, and not only that, the pain in my abdomen and many of the original symptoms began to return.
Number five left me feeling tearfully low and depressed (one of the side effects) especially as the day after chemo I caught the most appalling cough and cold – so bad that one of the drivers who had also caught it needed to be taken from his truck by ambulance to hospital, and Sally’s Mum had to take Sally to A & E. This horrendous sore throat, cough and cold lasted nearly until Christmas, and having gotten rid of it I promptly caught another and different variety. So when someone came into the office with a child which had been vomiting I nearly ran out, thinking I just could not risk a third illness.
But chemo number six really, really hit me for a six. We had gone to Switzerland after the fifth, and I found my vitality sapped and any spring which might have been in my step had been totally worn down, but I did enjoy the Swiss experience. (more of that in the next post)
The scenery is magnificent and I have to say I found the people of the area a delight – interested, helpful and welcoming to tourists. Wengen and that whole area is a charming place and God willing, when I am travelling again I will return for another look round taking Phoebe, as dogs seem welcome everywhere, even in the hotel !
We flew back from Switzerland on the 3rd of Jan and next morning I was due for my sixth chemo and by now I was pretty much of an emotional wreck, and was in tears before anyone really started. I asked for the lovely nurse who had made the best job in the past of accessing the port in my chest, and although the connection went in okay for some reason when the chemicals were connected the pain was unbearable. So that was all taken off and a vein in my arm selected.
Eventually I was hooked up and the last lot of poisons pumped into my system.