Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Pre-chemo assessment

I haven't written a blog for while.  I've not really had much to blog about I suppose.  It's been the usual ups and downs and getting on with things. I've had days out here and there (see photos), gone for walks, napped, and been occasionally bored as hell.  

Me on Downhill Beach wearing my brilliant NHS wig

Downhill Beach and Mussenden Temple
Glorious Downhill Beach

Today I went and had my third pre-chemo assessment.  This is a regular appointment which takes place every three weeks.  It's to make sure for example that I can go ahead with my chemo treatment the next day or if the dosage needs to be adjusted.

Waiting to be seen

I have mixed feelings when I sit in the waiting area of the cancer suite. It's a peaceful place with lovely nurses and volunteers but I have to admit I find it a bit depressing.  

I look around and it makes me sad seeing how many people are being treated and what we all look like.  I have to remember not to talk too loudly (quite hard for me) or laugh at anything my husband says.  I don't want to be insensitive.

It seems that most people in the waiting area are of mature years with a handful of younger folk.  As Groucho Marx once said, 'I don't want to belong to a club that will accept me as a member'.  That's exactly what I feel like.  I don't want to be in the 'Cancer Club', I don't want people feeling sorry for me, I don't want to feel like I'm in God's Waiting room, I don't want to get older and sit with other older people who are getting treatment.  In my head I still feel like I'm 21 and that cancer can't happen to someone like me.  Get the picture?

Bloods, weight and a debrief

I had my bloods taken and got weighed.  Surprisingly I had only put on a couple of pounds since last time, which is not bad considering I have been comfort eating or eating rubbish because my tastebuds have changed and things don't taste right.  The nurse said she would be more worried about me if I was losing weight.

After the blood test, I met with a specialist registrar for a debrief.  Turns out that my white blood cells are lowish so I need to have a white blood cell injection this week, given by a district nurse.  

The registrar asked me all sorts of questions, plus I gave him a load of information about things I had experienced which I had written down in a notebook.  Things like tummy upsets, heart palpitations, a sore forearm, a sore hangnail and little finger on my vulnerable side (the registrar thought he might have to defer chemo in case it was infected but he decided it was OK), sore chest/throat and feeling queasy during the second week of the cycle.

Top tip

If you're going through treatment or have had surgery, write down everything you experience, when you experience it, what it feels like and for how long.  This is important for when you're assessed.   Every bit of information is really useful for the doctors as this can influence things like the dosage of drugs or if they need to postpone treatment.  They can also give you things that might treat some of the side effects for example tummy upsets or queasiness.

ECG and X-ray

The registrar referred me for an ECG plus an X-ray to make sure there were no issues with my heartbeat and to check that my PICC line was in the right place.  

After I had the ECG, I wandered down to the busy X-ray reception.  I sat in a spare seat.  I wasn't wearing my wig nor a chemo hat - my bare head was on display (I've come to the point where I don't give a toss what I look like when I'm in the hospital).  I saw a woman walking towards me who was staring at me with a look of abject horror on her face.  She was either a) very taken aback or b) about to crap herself.  I thought maybe I had taken her seat so I asked her if I had, but no I hadn't.  The only thing I could think of was that she had been genuinely shocked by my appearance or she thought if she sat next to me she'd catch cancer.  Er, no! 

I got to see my x-ray photo.  It was fabulous to see my lungs in great detail and where the PICC line was positioned.  The registrar took time to explain the different things he could see.  Despite being told when I got my surgery results that my right lung was partially collapsed he said he couldn't see anything of the sort.  Bizarre!

So that was today.  Tomorrow is chemo day.  I hate chemo day.  I hate chemo week to be honest.  But I'll be halfway through chemo so that's got to be a good thing!


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