Please note that this is a backdated blog post from Tuesday 21st June 2016 – I’ve just not had the time or brain capacity to complete it….
After an amazing time at my local Race for Life event on Sunday with my nearest and dearest, I was in high spirits and feeling good about the next stage in my journey.
The long awaited week of my first chemo post surgery had finally arrived and, although I was obviously anxious about the side affects I was equally excited to get treatment back underway.
For me, my chemo week starts on a Monday with a visit to my local oncology department to have blood tests. These are simply to check all my levels are suitably high enough that a dose of chemotherapy won’t make me too unwell. Due to one of my wounds playing up the week before, however, this week I was also met by my oncologist who wanted to see how things were healing.
All was looking well and I left confident that my blood results would mirror this and I’d receive my fifth dose of chemotherapy on Wednesday as planned.
Ordinarily I drive myself to my preassessment appointments, a last bid at freedom before the side affects of chemo take hold over the next wee while. However, due to my surgery I haven’t been driving lately and so my parents accompanied me on this particular appointment. This was lovely as it meant that, not only did they get to meet some of the team that have been caring for me, but also that we could go and have lunch together before they drove me home.
However, as is often the case with cancer, it had other plans. Half way through lunch I started to feel unwell. My tummy was cramping and painful and I just wasn’t feeling myself. In my typical approach to life, I tried to battle on but by the time they got me home I just needed my bed.
As soon as they left I was in my PJs, in my bed and had taken some breakthrough morphine for extra pain relief. I’m fairly certain I’d fallen asleep before they’d even left my street.
Most disappointingly I’d arranged for a friend to pop round briefly that evening while my husband visited his parents. Sadly those plans too had to be cancelled – having cancer is bad enough, having cancer have a say in what you can and can’t do is just plain annoying!
I slept for a good couple of hours before waking to constant sickness. I feared that a repeat of the previous week was on the cards, made worse by the thought that this could potentially delay my next dose of chemo. This brought a new kind of fear as, although chemo isn’t exactly ‘pleasant’ it is a necessary evil and it had already been delayed two weeks!..what would this mean in terms of my journey?…
So many questions went through my head about what a hospital admission would mean that, in hindsight, I probably suffered longer than would be advisable before I eventually called my husband and asked him to come home.
Unsurprisingly when I then called the oncology ward they advised that I came in to be checked.
It’s odd really, I made the decision to call them, I knew they’d want to see me but, somewhere, in the back of my mind, I just wanted them to tell me I was fine and should sleep it off. Sadly it’s never that simple with cancer. Don’t get me wrong, I think the oncology ward staff are exceptional but all I was focusing on was the fear of another admission and the potential of my chemo being delayed – again.
My fears were met. I was admitted. I was taken for chest and abdominal X-rays…something I loath as I’ve had so many in the last few weeks and they are, afterall, just exposing my body to more radiation. I was then given three bags of IV fluids overnight and given a syringe driver to provide me with constant anti-sickness drugs.
The Dr that came to see me on the ward let me know that my blood tests from my preassessment had been fine – my white blood count, infection markers etc were all in a ‘safe’ range for receiving chemo. However, knowing that my magnesium levels are prone to dropping, and also recognising that one of the side affects of this for me is sickness, I asked what my magnesium levels had been like during my preassessment. She let me know that they hadn’t been tested and agreed to have them looked into. As it turns out I was right to question this. My magnesium levels were low and, subsequently, magnesium was added to the fluid IV I received overnight.
By the time I’d had my X-rays and been attached to IV fluids and a syringe driver it was 1.30am. I was exhausted but I felt safe. Despite not wanting to be admitted, there is something so wonderful and nurturing about the care and compassion shown by the nurses that treat me. When my husband left to go home they sat with me, they held me and they listened until I felt calm enough to sleep. I’m sure they were busy, I’m sure they had a million things on their mind but in that moment they made me feel like I was all that mattered and that’s a gift. That’s real care.
The next morning my oncologist came to see me. Both of us were unsure what had caused this ‘blip’ after being so well during my preassessment only hours before. Perhaps it had been because my magnesium levels were low or perhaps I’d just inenvertently had a tiny amount of gluten at lunch with my parents (I have a gluten allergy). Whatever the cause, by morning I felt much better and my oncologist agreed that my chemo could go ahead but just a day late (Thursday) so as to allow my body time to rest.
I was happy and releived. Once again I felt supported by a whole team who see me as a patient and not just a condition. They understood my concerns, the comforted me and they put plans in place. Most importantly they removed my fears. The greatest gift of all.
Love and light, Fi xxx
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