Mixed emotions

I had my last chemo session on Friday 22 July.  I was elated and as I was saying goodbye to one of the sisters, she said, ‘No but I’ll see you soon, your port will need to be flushed.’  I looked at the other sister and they both laughed.  I thought they were having me on.  I didn’t know that – no one mentioned it!  And they all know how I hate it when they connect that needle to the port, they have to anesthetise mine for at least 30 – 60 minutes beforehand and then it’s still sometimes sore.

mixed-emotionsSo now I have to look forward to going back every 8 weeks to have my port flushed.

The only alternative is to have it removed but I’m too scared I may need chemo in the future.  It is just an awful thing to have to live with as it protrudes from inside the skin plus there is a long scar. It’s located on my chest area.

It will be difficult to disguise in summer. I myself can’t even look at it and I don’t even go near it – “ek gril” – in other words I find it creepy and offputting.  Plus the thing moves in the night, or at least that’s what it feels like.  Sometimes I think ‘oops it’s tilted sideways.’

My scans are set for September when we’ll see the effect of the chemo.  Until then I may stay off the airwaves.  Friends who want more updates can send me a friend request on Facebook.  I appreciate your comments and thoughts!

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Chemo Day 3

Bad and Breakfast  Since my last chemo session, I had a port implant, which went well. The stay in hospital was not the most pleasant – do things like this only happen at Panorama?  I asked a sister for water at 3.30pm (that was many hours after my op and after I had already consumed two jugs of water) and aconfused-smiley-300x247nother two nurses thereafter and guess what time I received water next to my bed? 6.30pm. Is water rationed??

 

The next day I woke up at 5am STARVING and my breakfast only
arrived past nine and my menu selection clearly stated COLD milk but I received hot milk with my cornflakes – yuk!  I had to send it back plus the fried eggs – nuke them please!  (At a previous visit I ordered muesli and received Granola – it’s like blessing the pork by saying ‘it’s fish it’s fish’….)

I just about gobbled it up when at 9.30 they came to fetch my plates – whoa, okay take everything just leave my coffee!  It was a Saturday morning but do they think we’re all speed eaters?? Oh…. and not to mention the fact that I ended up on the operating table without a tag on my arm stating who I am and which doctor I belong to….

I don’t think I’m unduly fussy considering the prices charged by the Mediclinic Group.  I once stayed overnight at the Caledon Provincial hospital and their breakfast consisted of coffee with 5 sugars and a bowl of oats holy-moly-smileyloaded with sugar, both of which I kindly donated to my neighbour. I didn’t complain because the whole overnight stay probably cost me R30,00!

My port operation went well (thanks for sending the angels Margaret) except the anesthetist had a battle trying to find a vein which left a big black bruise on my arm. Here I am after my op.

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Bad Blood   Before chemo one has to go for a blood test to check white and red blood cells and kidney function. My white blood cell count was too low for more chemo so I had to have two injections of Neupogen. Small injections into the stomach, not painful at all. They cause the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells and I was warned that it could cause lower back pain – WOW they weren’t kidding!  I took Tramacet for the pain (I NEVER take painkillers, pain must be extreme before I relent), but I swear the pain went away once Donavon (Michaela’s friend who is a healer) lay his hands on me… the pain was gone – zip, zilch, even though I had another Neupogen injection the day after.  I had no further ill effects after the second injection.

Finally,  Chemo Day 3   Today, 24 May, I had another looooong chemo session – I was there about 8.15am and left around 2.30pm.  The first time my port was in use and it was a great success.  They stick the needle into the port like this.

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Many people were nodding off at about lunchtime and some were knitting.  I was a busy bee on my laptop and got a lot done.  Bianca would very much like me to join team knitting in order to knit baby clothes for the far-in-the-future baby!  We’ll see next time.

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For some strange reason I craved Coke which I haven’t had for years!  So I allowed myself two cans when I came home – practically had one after the other. Very weird. But I believe if you don’t give in to your cravings you end up eating replacements that just leave you dissatisfied. So I rather just give in to a craving and be done with it.

I have another much shorter session next week, if my blood test result is acceptable.

 

Chemo Day 2

Well, after my last session I only started feeling normal again on Day 5. I had a whole range of side effects, every day something new, mainly heartburn, tinnitus, and the flu symptoms with fever.  Since night before last, a pain moving up and down my arm and today the veins in my hand are purple.  Chemo Sister says it’s the chemo drug that does that. The drugs bugger up the veins and eventually all the veins in my arms are going to look like that.  She struggled this morning, says I’m too fine and my veins are too fine, she’s going to ask the doctor if I can have a port implanted. It makes it easier for them to plug the chemo tubes into the port (which is already inserted into a large vein), and will save my veins. But that will mean an operation under full aneasthetic which I’m not sure my lungs will handle.  I’m waiting for the doctor’s decision.

Next chemo session if all goes according to plan, will be in 2 weeks’ time.  Ah and I completely overjudged the space – there are +- 15 lazy boys, not 30!

Chemo Day 1

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The lazyboys and the loo’s
No, the chairs aren’t electric – that’s my laptop cable running across the floor!  I was conveniently located next to the unisex loo’s – I asked for the same spot next time because with all the fluids they pump through one’s body – I was going every 20 minutes! Very counter productive if you’re trying to work….

Beeping visitors
Anyway, it seems most people were reading or having a nice social morning (the lady on the stool is visitor).  Bianca and Nige came to visit me, which was great fun. It also helped speed up time.  My session was just over 5 hours.  The machine beeps every time a bag empties, then the sister has to hook up a new bag.  I’m getting two types of chemo medications plus bone strengthening medication plus fluids with supplements.

Fighting carpets
I was hooked up to a machine which I had to cart around with me to the loo and to the coffee area.  The coffee making area is there where you see the large couch. It’s tricky enough getting into that area with the drip machine but lo and behold, some clever cat has placed a thick pile carpet slap bang in the middle.  Do they not know that thick pile carpets and the wheels of a drip don’t get along?  I stopped coffee as soon as I noticed my loo intervals shrinking….

The Sister and The Size
The place is really big, I didn’t count but it must have place for about 30 patients and they come and go all day.  We all have our time slots and the place is divided up into areas. There is a sister for each area.  She runs around all the time hooking up new bags or doing her admin here behind me.  (She’s the one who took the photos.)  She sat with me and once again went over all the possible side effects. There are so many, it boggles the mind. Problem is, chemo not only attacks affected cells, it attacks (almost?) all your cells.  I received reading material explaining all the drugs I’m receiving.

The Process and The Pain
The process starts off with the nurse putting a warm beanbag on one’s arm to warm up the veins. (Every week they’re going to alternate the arms.)   Then two tourniquets are applied and the needle inserted while you cringe and you try to read the fine print on bottles 500 meters away and your toes curl so much your might damage your shoes….. no it’s not nice. Ohhhhh and then there is one bag of medication that hurts so bad when injected – makes one’s hand hurt and I cried out to the sister a couple of times, then she changed the ‘medication to fluid’ ratio and we put a warm beanbag on my hand. The sister has to often come past to check that the fluid is still flowing and that there are no blockages.

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The Good the Bad and the Ugly
I worked through the reading material and of course I have 101 side effects to watch out for and each one is ‘reportable’ – I received a list of contact numbers.  Ready?  Obviously the nausea and tiredness most people know about, then there is the possible liver and kidney damage (one has regular blood tests throughout the chemo process to check white & red blood cells and state of organs, that sort of thing), damage to hearing (which can be permanent!), numbness or tingling in fingers and toes, blood clots, taste alterations, no resistance to infection, bleeding (internal or other), breathlessness, flu-like symptoms, constipation, diarrhea, feeling weak, temperature, chest pains, swelling.

So far, touch wood, on Day 1 I have no symptoms. I received a course of anti-nausea pills to take over 3-5 days.  Only someone (in his wisdom) decided to add some cortisone to my drip (his reasons were explained to me but hmm I can’t remember), which reduced my sleep from 12 hours (last week during radiation) to 5 hours last night.  ‘No it’s such a small amount it won’t have an effect.’ ‘No the radiation is such a small amount it can’t make you sleep more.’ 🙂

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Kissing Cousins
I must apologise to friends and family but I’m no longer going to kiss and tell, I mean kiss and hug! I have been warned that my resistance to colds and flu and general germs will be almost nil and that I have to be very careful. Dr Google says people are contagious 1 day before they start showing cold and flu symptoms.

The Egg remained in place
Bianca and Nige asked me if I’m okay for lunch. I said yes sure, I packed in my usual lunch of greek salad and egg. The immediate response was ‘Egg? You mean you’re going to eat a hard boiled egg – HERE?’  Needless to say, the egg made it all the way back home!

Next steps
If all goes well with my bloodtest on Tuesday next week, then I’ll have a +-1.5 hour session next week.