Monday September 14: I’d to give blood for testing before the chemo. I was a bit anxious because the nurse I spoke to on Friday said Monday was too soon, though I’d originally been told by the cancer nurse specialist to have it done on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday. I phoned and left a message but went ahead with the bloods anyway. I got a call later in the day to say it was fine to have them done today. Such a little thing but I spent the day worrying if my first chemo would have to be postponed because of a mix-up/communication breakdown.
Having made the decision about which treatment plan to go with I find myself doubting and wondering if I’ve made the wrong choice. It’s odd. Since the start of all this I’ve felt I have so little control over what’s going on with tests and scans and being told I need this done and that done. Then, when it’s decision time, I suddenly have full autonomy and the decision rests with me. It’s more scary than odd. I’ll never know if I made the right or wrong choice.
I attend Pilates class on Zoom and feel better for it, especially as I missed last week’s classes because of Monday’s meeting with the oncologist and double booking myself on Friday. When I assumed I would be lucky to see Christmas I’d started sorting out books and arranged to take them to a bookseller in Wigtown so if anyone is looking for Scottish titles you’ll find some good ones at Beltie Books. Now I think I might get past Christmas I’ll have to stop myself buying them back!
Thursday September 17: To distract me from thinking about tomorrow my son and I sign up for a bagel making workshop on Zoom, run by my friend Barb who blogs HERE. In the middle of it someone phones from the hospital to ask some questions before tomorrow’s treatment. One question is about dental work and I say I have an appointment next week and will probably be having a filling done, as the temporary filling put in previously had come out. I’m told I can’t have a filling when I’m on chemo because of the risk of infection. Had I know this sooner I could have changed my appointment. I ring Birch Valley Dental Practice, explain and ask if my dentist can call me back. She does and asks when I start chemo. “Tomorrow morning.” She asks if I can come in at 7.55pm that evening. I can and I do. She asks how I am and listens patiently while I ramble on about everything from Covid-19 to the horrors of a bronchoscopy before she checks my teeth, puts in another temporary filling and gives me a prescription for various mouth medications I may need over the course of the chemotherapy. Thank goodness I live in Dumfries & Galloway.
The bagels are a huge success – huge being the operative word. No wonder I’m piling on the pounds since my son re-joined our household.
Friday September 18: I don’t sleep well. I’m glad the DH is driving me to the hospital or I might just have driven past and come home again without calling in – even though I’m wearing the kick ass ankle boots. I’m on time, I give my name to the receptionist, take a seat. Then it kind of goes downhill because when I’m taken to the ECG department I hear voices of muttering that “it can be done but she’ll have to wait.” The receptionist says there’s no record of my appointment being made. The nurse says she brought the form herself last week. “Yes,” the receptionist agrees, “I remember putting a note on it.” Since then the form, the note and my appointment have vanished. No one actually tells me this so I wait and eventually I’m called. They are short staffed – two sitting a test, one called to critical care unit – but my ECG is done.
Back in the oncology department, I’m weighed (heavier than last time) and height measured. This causes some excitement and calls for someone else to verify it – I am exactly the same height I was on September 07. Apparently this never happens. Things begin to acquire a surreal quality, heightened when I’m led into the room where it happens. Four people are already hooked up to drips – and they’ve bagged all the good reclining chairs! There’s a radio playing down one end, television at the other end. I choose a chair sort of midway, facing the long – very long – nurses’ desk. In time I realise it’s a mistake because from the television, which I can’t see, comes a constant burbling, which is annoying. Can anyone actually watch and hear the television?
They tell me they are waiting for the pharmacy to send down the chemo. In the meantime they put warm pads on my hand and wrist to make the vein come up. I wait. I read. They bring me lunch. I eat. I wait. Finally, the stuff arrives and I get hooked up and toxic drugs start dripping into my body. They give me pills to prevent nausea. Drip bags are changed – flush, medicine, flush. The nurse changing the bag tells me when this flush is through there will be one more chemo. A different nurse comes over when the flush is done and tells me I’m finished. I’m confused. Really? I thought I’d to have one more. I say her colleagues are trying to tell her something and she looks round and realises her mistake. She makes a comment that a proper handover after breaks would be useful. I agree. Finally, about 3 pm it’s all over and I leave armed with booklets and instructions and medicines and lists of other medicines to get from the GP.
As I get in the car, I realise I still can’t get my head round the fact I have cancer and I have started chemotherapy treatment. I wonder if it will ever feel real.
Saturday September 19: I slept well and feel fine. People who have been down this road before me have said the first cycle is the easiest to cope with; the side effects are worse after several cycles. I decide to make the most of this being the first and do some emails and writing in the morning and some work in the garden in the afternoon.
Sunday September 20: I didn’t sleep last night. I don’t know why. I’m knackered for most of the day (the steroids are finished for now which may be a factor) but I seem to wake up later and enjoy a two-mile walk. Hope I sleep tonight. There’s definitely going to be a nightcap before bed.