Thursday, 22 May 2008

three down, three to go

Tuesday 20th May

Tuesday morning, off again for the 8.15am appointment at the chemo ward. You never actually go in on time by the way, but at least if you are there for a ‘long chemo’ you do get started early, as they close at 6.00 and to fit in 8 hours of chemo plus odd delays where it’s not ‘made up’ yet etc. must be frustrating for the nurses as well as for me. Arrive to the smell of toast and coffee – have a coffee while you wait, thanks to the Force ladies.

Into the ‘Chair of Torture’ – I don’t know who designed those chairs but I would really like that person to have to sit in one themselves for 8 hours or so – I think they might be rushing straight back to the drawing board, standing up to do the redesign! They’re great in that you can put the foot rest up etc, rather like the old Lazee-Boy style. But they’re hard as rock! And blue plastic? Eww. I suppose it’s easy to clean? But making it hard as stone is no help to cleaning, so may that designer have many torturous seats to sit on in his/her life.

For some reason this time, the nurse that I formerly didn’t particularly want to have [he seemed MILES away and forgot a few things the first time, which made me nervous] has turned into a New Man and was brilliant this time. Maybe he was training? Suddenly he is bursting with confidence and right on the ball. Good for him – and for me!

He went through the questions about what side effects I had last time, and I told him all of them but that the worst thing for me at the moment is the insomnia. Not that I usually need a lot of sleep, but I need more than 1 hour at a time, constantly waking up, every hour on the hour, particularly now. Can’t work out if it’s sub-conscious anxiety about work and other stuff, or the menopause or the chemo.

He decided to get the Ward Doctor to come and talk to me about some sleeping tablets. The Doctor arrived, and was most miffed once he noted that I wasn’t foaming at the mouth quite then – he had a go at the nurse in front of all the ward, telling him ‘I was actually on a ward you know, and I thought it was...’ – he was obviously about to say either ‘important', or 'urgent’ but wisely clamped his mouth shut, upon noticing that EVERYONE was looking at him. Rude and arrogant. So that was fun. NOT. The poor chemo nurse was a bit embarrassed, although why I can’t imagine, as he wasn’t the one who was being rude. A while later, Doctor I-Am-Extremely-Important-And-Don’t-You-Forget-It arrives back. He has either a South African or Zim accent – not quite sure, but he uses the phrase ‘quickly quickly’, which reminds me of SA. So, he arrives at my feet [which were handily sticking up, enabling me to look down my nose at him], and says: ‘Ok, I’m here, quickly’. Ha!!

Asked him if he could ‘quickly’ tell me if, in the 5 minutes he would need to spend with me, he would mind prescribing something that would help me sleep for the next 5 nights. If that wasn’t too much trouble, as obviously he is a very busy man, unlike the rest of us lazy buggers, lolling about having fun being nuked. Grr. I really felt like being rude, but decided you never know what’s happening in other people’s days, so I restrained myself! Plus he could poison me heh heh.

He asked me how I felt about Temazepam, and we got into a slight argument about that, as I was under the impression that it’s a horrible drug, and an anti-depressant. But he said it isn’t and I actually don’t know why he asked me at all, as I ended up having it anyway. But I checked with Nurse Jones-Tulp [the crazy sister in law] and she said it’s great, as long as I don’t open the capsules and inject them into my arms and legs, which will then fall off?! Okaaaay – nurses know too many weird things! I am now armed with some of these, so when I get desperate I shall have one – oh, and I’ll be sure [as warned by Dr Important] NOT to drive heavy machinery whilst taking them either...what??

The left hand is playing up – as usual veins are being obnoxious. I asked them to use the left hand each time, as I need the right one for work, but now I have a lump of tissue in one of the veins, and it’s sort of like a lumpy bruise. Apparently that’ll go away in about 6 months...hmm! Interesting. This time my whole hand swelled up afterwards, and I had to ‘quickly’ whip my wedding ring off, as I was in danger of having a throttled finger. Kept it elevated and it was ok the next morning, but it seems I’d better change hands next time. Trouble is, it hurts like anything trying to use the keyboard, but better than having a ballooning hand I think! Plus it’s a nice black and blue.

This time seemed longer, and it wasn’t, in fact I think they pumped it in quicker which might account for the swollen hand. I couldn’t concentrate at all, managed a little game of scrabble and about 3 pages of my book [which I have had to read again – chemo brain!]. Drank about 5 litres of water, you spend half the time drinking, the other half tottering off to the loo! One handed is fun – I am always knocking the cannula and it’s a bit complicated wearing a jumper or not – once you’re cannulated, you can’t put anything on or take anything off, so I spent the morning freezing, and was ok in the afternoon. Better to take a wrap I think – at least it can be whipped on and off at will. Note to self: take a kikoy!

Yesterday and today feeling ok, just more sick than usual, but nothing too bad – brain isn’t working very well mind you, so I am hoping it’ll kick into touch tomorrow – have had the horrible ‘chemo mouth’ as well, where everything tastes disgusting, so you try eating all sorts of things but to no avail. Everything tastes like it’s infected. I reckon it’s the platinum in the chemo. Gross. Could have just done with my favourite food today – the sopa de peixe and Tortilha from my friend Bella’s restaurant in Espinho, the Barco Boador. Ola! I will see you soon, get the Planalto in babe!

Not in the best temper either – I wish people wouldn’t expect you to be actually. See how they get on with no sleep, constant fatigue even when you do sleep, feeling nauseous, bald, eyelashes falling out bit by bit and as if someone’s stamped on your hand, worrying about work, worrying about forgetting everything [the term ‘chemo brain’ is an actual cognitive dysfunction associated with chemo] and struggling to multi-task.

Chemo brain is not funny [this link will take you to an explanation of this], and can make you really stressed, as you cant even remember where your ‘list’ of things to do is!

BUT – only 3 to go!! Yippee!

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