Monday 3rd September 2007; at last the day to have my chemo. After making sure that my mum and I had a good lunch we arrived at the hospital raring to go. ĎWhat on earth was all the talk about getting me started straight awayĒ My chemo hadnít even been made up. Why wasnít my chemo ready? They had had all weekend to get it ready.í Today I was not a happy bunny and felt like telling the hospital where to go and walking out that door never to go back. I couldnít though could I? I need my chemo, not to mention that my mum wouldnít have let me walk out. My nurse was very apologetic and I know it wasnít her fault; it was the stupid slow pharmacy.
After an hour of shifting from one cheek to the other in the stupid uncomfortable chair and going back and forth to the loo from the endless amounts of water I had consumed, not to mention the steroids that were making me climb the walls with an over stimulated mind, my nurse came back into the waiting room, smiling. ďCome onĒ She said. Instantly my mum and I were up out of the chairs and within seconds in the chemo bay, and had my arm out ready for her to stab me with that awful needle. Today there was no anxiety of my vein not playing ball or ballooning up like a hot air balloon, I didnít have time to think about it. Straight away she had me connected up to the saline drip and was checking off my pre-meds of cortico steroid injection, and anti histamine (chlorpheniramine) and of course my chemo. As usual they asked me my name even though they new me by now and of course they asked me my date of birth, this is all so that everything is double checked and no mistakes are made. I started laughing when I gave my name and date of birth, I so wanted to give them a made up silly name. Something like Mrs Fluffy Head or Mrs Glow Head Fatty Bottom.
The pre meds made me a bit light headed, but I didnít have time to think about that, as before I knew it the saline was done and the big bag of Pacletaxol/Taxol was hooked up and on its way into my body to kill the last remaining squatters. The only problem that I had today was that every time I moved slightly the drip stopped, resulting in setting off the bleeper on the machine that was used to time the chemo going through. The nurses were constantly running back and forth to reset it and I spent half the time waving my arm around trying to get it back in the right position to get the chemo going again. I must have looked like a total idiot, the patients in the opposite chairs kept smiling at me, I think they thought I was waving at them, or I was a nutty lass that needed to be in the nut house.
Even though I had made several trips to the loo before hand, I got to the point that I just had to go AGAIN...
Now going to the toilet is a laugh and takes professional training to accomplish. First the machine needs to be unplugged from the socket that is positioned so high up on the wall, that you need a step ladder to reach, not to mention being in the most awkward of places, slap bang behind my reclining chair. Once this maneuver is mastered, itís then a case of moving all people (my mum) and furniture around to untangle the drip line and get the little wheels from the drip stand free from being trapped between the legs of my mums chair and mine. The wheels on these things are; I strongly suspect, made by the same manufacturer of the super market trolley wheels. I wanted to go straight forward, but oh no, they have a mind of their own and decide to go right and slightly backwards. So with my wonky wheeled drip stand and holding my arm up high so that I didnít get any flash back from my veins into the tube, I played the game of trying to get from A to B without the trolley tippling over before I got to the loo, bloody supermarket trolley wheel syndrome. As if I hadnít already made a fool of myself, waving my arm around like the stupid, cardboard cutout from ĎHome Aloneí.
Once squashed up in the corner of the loo cubicle, with my face pressed against the wall, I then had to untangle myself from the mess that I had already gotten myself into, due to the inside of the loo, not being big enough for me to move around in, never mind a wonky wheeled drip stand. The drip line was tangled everywhere, leaving me with approximately 3 inches of spare tube to maneuver about, bearing in mind a good 10 inches would be required to reach down and undo the zip on my trousers, never mind taking them down. Iím so pleased I donít have a weak bladder cos I could definitely see an accident happening. Every time I put my drip arm down, it tugged the cannula in my hand and blood started easing its way up the tube. I think maybe it would be a good idea for ALL chemo patients to be fitted with a pee bag; it would save us lots of hassle. By the time I had done, the tube was completely red with the flow back from my vein even though I tried to keep my arm up as high as possible. Now call me thick if ya want but on the way back Iíd had what you call a brain storm, I picked the stupid drip stand up and carried it. No more tangled tubes and no more running down the corridor after the stupid stand when the wheels decided to go on a mad wobbly moment. By the time I got back to my chair and plugged the machine back in, I had lost 20 minutes of chemo drip drip time.
The Gemcitabine was a smaller bag, again the liquid was clear. Today there was going to be no pink pee which I think Iím really going to missÖnot on your Nelly, itís not that you feel anything, itís just the thought of the colour especially when you have to go pee at the hospital, cos there never is any toilet paper and the pinkness from the wee gets onto your knickers, which I must say is a bugger to get out. The Gemcitabine got me feeling a bit dizzy, or was it the Taxol. I canít remember. Whoooo I think I am having a chemo brain moment. Canít even remember which chemo made me dizzy, mind you with the amount of time it took to have my chemo, Iím not surprised.
The time was getting on and I have come to the conclusion that Chemo and Steroids donít mix. I wanted to sleep cos of the chemo, but the steroids just wouldnít let me. As soon as my eyes closed, everything went round and round and round. I felt so very tired and could have done with some matchsticks to prop my eyelids open. I did on a couple of occasions drift off, but only for short spells and each time I woke I noticed that my chemo had stopped again.
My mum took a few walks down to the cafeteria to get some more nibbles; this was mostly to ease her back from aching. No wonder you put on weight with chemo for Breast Cancer. Itís because youíre that bored and uncomfortable from sitting hours on end and feeling like shit that you just have to eat to occupy yourselves and take your mind off things. And that comfort food just has to be chocolate and crisps.
The time was really getting on and it felt like I was getting nowhere with the last remaining chemo that was left in the bag. It was going in really slowly, the nurses kept coming to check, saying each time that it should have finished by now. That gives you a lot to be happy about doesnít it. Then! Where are the nurses when you need them? The chemo was done and there was no sign of any of them. After 20 minutes of waiting and watching my blood back up the tube again, I did my acrobatic act of unplugging the machine and feeling in rather a foul mood, set off for a walkies round the ward with my wonky wheeled drip stand, to find someone who could get my last flush of saline connected up, so that I could get out of the place and go home.
Luckily enough, the nurse who put up my last bag of saline took sympathy on me and didnít make me wait until the whole bag had gone, she left it to flush through for just 5 minutes, after explaining that it is only used to make sure that I got all the chemo through the tube and into my veins.
The time was 9pm. Excluding the hour of waiting to get started the whole chemo took 6hrs, bit of a difference to it being a 4hr infusion that they had told me. I was so tired and just wanted to curl up and go to sleep. As we set off in the car, I took my phone out of my bag to ring Lee and let him know we were on our way back home. There were loads of missed calls from him; he had been worrying with the amount of time that it had taken.
Once home, after a hot cuppa and a quick chat telling Lee about the day, I trotted up the stairs and got settled in our nice comfy bed. I donít think it took long for me to get off to sleep, and sleep I did. It was as though the sleep button had been switched on as soon as my head hit the pillow