Tuesday, 12 September 2017

A mini mountain walk and another chemo delay


Every day on a cancer journey brings something new.  Take this week, for example.  I did a mini walk up a mountain, I was tested for another blood clot and chemo was deferred, again.

Divis mountain walk


The Macmillan Move More group I go to met up with other groups across Northern Ireland last Friday for a walk up Divis Mountain.   

This is how the conversation (the bit suitable for public consumption) went with my husband before I left home that morning:

Husband: Karen, it's not a route march, just take it easy.  I know what you're like.  It's not a race.  If you get out of breath, then stop.

Me: Yes, I promise I'll take it easy.  I'll walk slowly.

Husband (clearly believing I'm not listening): It's not a route march, just take it easy.  It's not a race.  And if you get out of breath, then stop. 

Me (through gritted teeth): YES.  I.  KNOW.  

Husband (still not believing I'm listening): Just take it easy. I know what you're like. It's not a route march.

...and so on.  You get the drift.

Oh, I also found £20 in my walking trousers too.  Wey hey!

Off we go

We all arrived at the mountain car park.  It is a very exposed area and the wind was whipping around us.  I had a bandana and a Winnipeg Jets [Canadian ice hockey team] baseball cap on my head but didn't have a scarf on and my neck was freezing.  One of my friends on the walk very helpfully suggested that I unwrapped my bandana and let it hang loose under my cap thereby protecting my ears and neck.  I looked like a choice of a) Lawrence of Arabia or b) Deputy Dawg (look both of those up, kids).  We nearly wet ourselves laughing so much.  I refuse, by the way, to put up a photo of what I looked like as it was pretty horrific and I might scare young readers.  

There were two walks to choose from: a short one and a long one.  The short walk was just to the coffee shop about 20 minutes up the path and the longer walk was another 20 minutes further.  

After a group photo, we set off.   With my husband's words still ringing in my ears, I plumped for the short walk even though I reckoned I could push it a little further but I didn't want to tempt fate.  

The coffee shop (circled)
After some deliciously warming drinks at the Divis Coffee Barn, we then walked back down again to the car park where Macmillan had laid on sandwiches, soup, tea and coffee for us.


Macmillan's soup and sandwiches
It was a brilliant event.  There were about 100 people there and I met so many wonderful, inspirational folk who are going through their own personal cancer journey.  It was an uplifting experience.  

I honestly did take it easy and I made it back in one piece.

Chemo deferred...again

I woke up this morning with some blood pooling around the entry point of my PICC line, with some painful swelling in the area.  Oh, heck.  Not good.  

Anyway, I went along to my pre-assessment this morning and told them about the pain and swelling.  After much taking of blood, prodding and inspection of my arm by nurses, sisters, doctors etc, the oncologist broke the news that it could be another blood clot and that chemo couldn't go ahead until she was sure what she was dealing with.  I would need an ultrasound scan of my arm.  

I was so cheesed off as I had psyched myself up for chemo and was worried another delay could have repercussions for the success of the treatment (not so apparently).  Whilst waiting for confirmation of the ultrasound appointment, I cheered myself up by reading a book by Alan Partridge in the waiting area.  I'm sure people thought I was a bit odd as I kept laughing out loud (I forgot to be quiet).  

I also replied to a tweet by Paris Hilton where she had asked her followers, 'What's on your mind?'.  Despite not being one of her followers, I tweeted back, 'The pedestrianisation of Norwich city centre.' Top Partridge banter.

The ultrasound


I went home and then came back for the ultrasound.   It was carried out by a doctor who looked about 12 years old but boy did he know his stuff. He explained everything he was doing and what he could see on the screen.  It was fascinating.  I kept asking him what various things were on the screen like some irritating big kid.  Bless him, he had the patience of a saint.

The doctor took screen shots of my veins and arteries in their 'normal' position and also when he had compressed them with the ultrasound device.  If a vein compresses, then apparently that's quite a good sign because that suggests there's no clot there. 

It bloody hurt when he had to compress the painful bit in my arm.  He also showed me my jugular veins (massive) and carotid artery (less massive) in my neck.  It was like looking into a secret world.

The results


Phew.  No clot.  The most likely diagnosis is that I have something called 'mechanical phlebitis' which is a sort of irritation caused by the PICC line. Treatment is just some brufen to settle the inflammation.  I won't be able to have chemo until my next planned appointment on Tuesday, so I'm really hoping that nothing else happens in the meantime.

So there you have it.  Another week of the unexpected.   There's never a dull moment when you're dealing with cancer, that's for sure.

PS


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