Saturday, 2 January 2010

End of Week 12 / Week 13 / Week 14 - Recovery

End of Week 12 / Week 13 / Week 14

Having arrived back home on the Monday, I was driven to my acupuncture on the Tuesday…(thanks Mum!)..which always helps me to feel better…I pay for this myself, but it is available on the NHS, in London at least…although I’m not sure how easy it is to get appointments and how often treatments are available…DEFINITELY worth checking out though.

You are able to do things…just very slowly, no pressure. I wouldn’t have been able/comfortable to drive myself across London to do this, or take public transport, but being driven about is ok...I did also make a trip to the DIY store to buy some paint, driving myself a day or two after being its not SO bad..

The sickness definitely lasted longer this time…generally everything was a bit worse…sickness, hearing, more hair falling out again, no itching this time!...but by the end of the second week at home I almost felt ok again...Christmas with the family was fine, drop of champagne on Christmas day, I ate fine...all good!

Boxing Day I had a strange occurrence…

at about 6pm I got a strange effect in my vision, seeming like I had been looking into a bright light for sometime, I couldn’t see anything a the centre of my vision for about 5 mins...this gradually spread out so that I could see in the centre but not the peripheries of my sight…like a jagged bright line moving outwards…eventually it disappeared but it was soon followed by a pretty bad headache…and an hour or so later ‘pins and needles’ in my left hand, and then my whole left arm, my right arm, my face, my head. WHAT THE FUCK.

So I called the oncology hotline (you are instructed to call this line at any point you feel unwell – with the treatment being what it is, leaving you with no white blood cells, no platelets for clotting, anaemic etc etc, even what would usually be small issues (bleeding, infections, viruses etc) can become serious very quickly.

The doctor on the hotline wasn’t able to determine any suspected cause of all this from my symptoms, but as one must be very careful during this period he advised me to get myself to the nearest A&E for a CT scan of my head…and an MRI scan after that (MRI gives even more detail than a CT)…baring in mind this was now 10pm on Boxing Day I was not amused at this prospect!!

I was assured the Oncology Department would call ahead to the A&E in order that I get fast-tracked in the line. This clearly didn’t happen as I wasn’t scanned until 3am.

Just what I needed, 5 hours under UV lights in a busy A&E waiting room surrounded by local rat bags who had been fighting with each other. WON-DER-FUCKING-FUL.

So I had the CT and was told I would have to sleep on the ward until morning, and then wait about the following day for the MRI scan as they didn’t operate at night.

I lay down in the ward, VERY depressing!, and tried to sleep…HOWEVER within about 3 minutes I had become aware of the chorus of coughing and spluttering around me…IM GOING TO FUCKING CATCH SOMETHING IN HERE..(with no immune system to speak of you REALLY don’t want to be catching anything!...MRSA anyone!?)…so I went and spoke to the nurse…told her of my concerns and that I was going home to sleep...”OH YEA, YOU HAVE A GOOD POINT SIR”…so I waited to make sure the CT scan results were ok…which they were…and I went home.

Got to sleep about 5am. Just what I needed!

The following day I got a call from my oncologist, and from the doctor at the A&E both to check in on me which was reassuring…and both suggested that maybe I had suffered a migraine. Interesting.

My mother has been a sufferer of migraines throughout her life and is certain that these symptoms I described were those of a migraine…albeit a short one it seemed.

There we go. Lets hope that’s not a new regular occurrence!

My third (and FINAL!) round was due to start on Jan 1st. Being as that would be the morning of New Year’s Day, and would leave me out on the loose and feeling ok on New Year’s Eve…I decided it would be better all round if I got my treatment brought forward a day so I was safely out of harms reach on NYE…my doctor didn’t seem to have any issue with that’s what I did…although, the actual start date would depend on neutrophil (white blood cell) count..

Week 12 - Round 2 Chemo

Same process as last time. Lots of waiting. My blood count was quite low this time, which meant there was some question as to whether we could go ahead or would have to put things back a day or two, but we went ahead.

The sickness wasn’t so bad this time. They had me on an additional drug, Emend, which seemed to do the trick very well, PLUS I made sure I had the dexamethasone and kytril intravenous before any chemo on day 3 as well as day 1 and 2 (which didn’t happen for round 1). They also took me off domperidone and moved me onto metrochlopromide…for which no one could give me a reason, which irritated me ..but it seemed to work so I was happy

By day 4 when leaving the hospital I felt pretty bad, but could have been worse! Plus I knew it was working for now so that helped a lot with my moral. I was pleased to get home, and cook some good fresh food…some kind of stir fried vegetables, wholegrain rice, organic chicken...perfect. I also had one sip of wine…it tasted fucking good! (No one actually told me to stop drinking…but it cant be a good idea to drink whilst your body is being put through all this, so in the main I refrained from alcohol)..

There’s not much more to be said…it was the same as last time. 2/3rds down!...Here I am in situ:

Week 12 – CT Scan

Week 12 - Day Before Round 2 Chemo

Midday appointment for a CT scan of my head and body.
Contrast injection, hot feeling…into the doughnut…and then several hours to wait until the radiologist and then my oncologist have had a chance to assess the results.
Another tense day.


Basically the two slightly swollen lymph nodes in my lower abdomen had decreased back to normal size. This implies that the assumption that cancer had spread into the two lymph nodes was correct, AND that it had responded to the treatment. There was now no detectable trace of cancer in my system. So just two more rounds of chemo to make sure.

I cant quite believe this good news...feels like the first bit of good news since this horrible saga began...actually its not, that the cancer was even treatable was good news, that more than 90pc of sufferers live the rest of their lives without much or any detrimental effects was good news...but all of that is meaningless until you get this piece of good news I think...the bit that is relevant to you, that excludes you from being the 1pc, or 5pc, or 50pc or whatever it is, that possibly doesnt respond to treatment. I still felt tense the next day, unable or not ready to feel relieved just yet.