ovarian cancer

Another trip to hospital

Tuesday night I was ill. Not your average ill…but proper sleeping on the bathroom floor after hours of sickness ill!

I just couldn’t stop being sick and I was in so much pain with abdominal cramps that I just curled up on my dressing gown and my husband put a towel over me and brought me a pillow. I stayed there for most of the night. The next day I was expected at a charity coffee morning in my name and, not to let them down, I had a bath, threw on some make up and turned up with a smile. It was a great event and I’m so glad I was able to go! But I was tired and knew something wasn’t quite right with my body…although at that point I wasn’t sure what was bothering me.

Later that night I noticed a suspect lump on my main abdominal scar. My tummy was also rather swollen. I joked to my husband that we might have another hospital visit in store. I wasn’t actually taking it seriously…not appreciating how serious an infection can be when you don’t have a spleen and have had chemo.

When I woke on Thursday morning the lump has grown and turned purple. This want good. I phoned my GP to make an appointment and got one for a few hours later. Feeling happy and reassured I went about my normal morning routine of taking all of my medication. I dropped something and bent to pick it up and then things got pretty gross!

The lump on my scar burst and with it came a flow of what an only be described as puss. I took a photo for the Dr which I’ve shared here it’s totally gross and I’m sorry but I did promise to share the good and bad of cancer.

It was pretty disgusting! And, in not going to lie, frightening. All I could think about was the chance of a hospital admission and I was terrified! I’d only just settled back into life at home and I was finally beginning to regain my confidence!

I phoned the hospital to explain the situation and, after a lot of back and forth about whether it was an issue for the ward or the chemo room, I was advised to come and get checked.

The whole drive there I was worried about being made to stay in. When I arrived I was met by my Macmillan nurse and it was my first question…’will I be admitted?’ followed by ‘will I still be able to have chemo next week?’

Both were met with uncertainty. If this was an infection then I’d be admitted and I also wouldn’t get chemo. Disaster!

Very quickly we were joined by one of the local surgeons. Like all members of my team, I respect her wholeheartedly and trust that she has my best interests in mind. I was right too feel this way. She checked me over and took swabs and blood tests. She agreed that I could go home and wait for the test results. If the bloods showed infection then I’d be admitted. If not then I’d just have to come in for daily checks. It felt like the best deal possible. I was so grateful.

The phone call came. The bloods were clear. Hurray! I can’t tell you how happy I was that I would be sleeping in my own bed again that night!

We agreed that I would come in the next day (Friday) for another check and that we would then make plans for checks over the weekend.

However, when I got checked on Friday, this time by another local surgeon, everything had cleared up so much that I no longer needed checked over the weekend. How amazing is that?!

I am once again so grateful for my medical team. They could have just seen a me as a patient and presumed, given the symptoms, that I had an infection. Instead they saw me as a person. They listened to me. They appreciated that I prefer to be at home and recover better there. They worked around this to ensure, wherever possible, that this could be achieved. They once again demonstrated person-centred care. I cannot tell you how happy and blessed this made me feel.

I am also once again grateful that I am able to recover at home. The fear I felt about the prospect of another hospital admission just served to remind me of all the little things we so easily take for granted at home: our own bed, our own bath, eating when we want, privacy, our pets, lying on the sofa…the list is endless.

I am thankful for this blip in my recovery as it reminded me how well I am doing and how lucky I truly am.

Chemo is going ahead next week as planned and although I am obviously anxious about the after affects, I am equally excited to be back on track with my treatment and confident I am in safe hands.

Love and light, Fi xxx

Uncategorized

Getting to the route of the problem…

Warning…this post (and photos) may be too graphic for some…

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Since my last post 5 days ago the plan changed slightly.

On Friday I was taken to see an intervention radiologist in theatre to have my infection drained. I was to be awake for the procedure and the radiologist was to use an ultrasound and X-rays to guide the drainage. Now, I’m particularly anxious of drains after a bad experience earlier in the year where a Dr took several painful attempts to drain my abdomen; each time cutting through my skin, fat and muscle with no success…only pain! For this reason I’d asked if I could be sedated for the procedure. The Drs, thankfully, agreed and I was given an oral sedative on the ward before I was taken down to theatre on my hospital bed. However(!) en route we were told of a delay and I was taken back to the ward. Happy and relaxed I ate a wee protein seed bar while I waited. This was a mistake!…

Half an hour later I was back on my way down to theatre and met by the medical team who would be controlling my pain. They offered me the same IV sedation I’d had for my biopsies earlier in the year which had been very effective – I’d be awake but not ‘with it’ shall we say. Fantastic! Until they asked when I’d last eaten… Turns out I’d needed to be fasted for 6 hours prior! So they were no longer able to offer me sedation and instead could only offer IV pain relief. I was gutted!

Accepting this was just how it would have to be, I was wheeled on my bed into the theatre room. It was fascinating! Because I was awake and not sedated, I was able to watch the team getting ready. I was moved onto an X-ray table whilst they put on their X-ray proof vests and theatre aprons. They then scrubbed their hands and gloved up before placing theatre sheets over my body.

Next the radiologist used an ultrasound and X-ray machine to locate the abscess that had shown on my earlier CT scan. Once located he injected local anaesthetic into the area whilst a nurse started to administrater IV pain relief. The radiologist then began cutting through the layers on my abdomen and, initially, all I could feel was pressure. Suddenly I was hit with stabbing pain and I admit I screamed. He reassured me and injected more local anaesthetic whilst I was simultaneously given more IV pain relief. Once I was comfortable enough to proceed he went ahead with the final cut. It was excruciating! I burst into tears. He again reassured me and explained that he had been unable to numb the abscess wall and that’s why I had experienced pain.

His next step was to insert a tube into the abscess and then to drain some samples for the lab. Following this a drain bag was attached and the tube was stitched and tapped in place. I was then lifted back onto my hospital bed and changed into a new gown as mine was now stained with blood.

The team were exceptional. They explained everything, comforted me and even had music playing! I felt very well supported and entirely in safe hands.

I was taken back to the ward on my hospital bed and advised to remain lying down for a few hours. I was exhausted and unable to stay awake for long – a happy side affect of the pain relief.

What drained from the abscess over the next wee while was disgusting! A thick brown lumpy liquid that you definitely wouldn’t want hanging about in your body, least of all around your liver!

Although I’d been told it could be up to 5 days before the lab were able to determine if what was being drained was an infection, just a few hours following the procedure the ward received a phone call to say that the lab were already growing things from the samples. This confirmed that I did indeed have a form of sepsis. No wonder I’d been so unwell!

All I can say is I’m so glad to have access to medical treatment for this, however unpleasant it may be, and especially for the intervention radiologist allowing for treatment without the need for another general anesthetiser and operation!

Here’s to onward healing.

Love and light, Fi xxx