Friday, 29 May 2015

Chemotherapy Treatment Round One...Ding Ding!

 Ooh a couple of days off work, for many of us this is a real treat, for me though I'd much rather be at work and just lead an ordinary hum drum sort of day. I'm never more happy than when I'm the one trying to help other people get better,recover or just try to make their day more bearable. Being a patient sucks and I have had my fair share on the side of the curtain.

When it's my turn to be a patient and I'm not feeling so good I always try to make sure I put the correct head on in the morning and be as friendly, positive and helpful as a patient can be towards the clinical staff and other patients as from personal experience it really does help things go along a lot smoother and more efficiently, hence getting you out that little bit quicker, well hopefully.

That wasn't the case today, No not because I was being stubborn or rude or had indeed incorrectly chosen my grumpy head, yes it does exist, it's way back in the darkest recesses of my wardrobe gathering dust. I don't like that head. Today was long because of the type of drug treatment I was going to be going through.

I arrived at the University Hospital of North Durham (UHND) just before my appointed time of 9:00am and was immediately introduced to the nursing staff and directed to a seat. One of the nurses  came over and checked all my details and got straight on preparing all the required gear to get me up and running. A needle was placed in the back of my left hand. Now I have had many needles popped in over the years, however the experience never gets any easier for me. I still always feel nervous,clammy and queasy. The nurse was very attentive and caring frequently asking "are you ok". I'd like to say maybe I'm really scared of needles because of a few incidents where I can recall things didn't go well. Over the years there have been a few dodgy incidents one being when I visited the old South Moor community hospital which is now no more. Having being demolished and the ground left unattended for a good few number of years. I hear more new houses will be built on the sight. This to me is a real shame as in my opinion a modern community hospital or a similar rest-bite and or hospice should have replaced the old hospital which had a really good reputation and stunning grounds. Instead no doubt there will be town houses built in a deprived area where people struggle to find work. Anyhoo getting back to the needle incident a nurse at the old South Moor Hospital I think completely missed my vein or went through it. I got like a dead arm and I'm sure she drained more than the required alotted amount, the pain was horrendous. A few days later my whole arm was tingly and went black and blue.

My next bad experience was when I was in theatre awaiting the anaesthetist. You can kind of tell things aren't going to go well when the anaesthetist enters the room, glasses on and all chirpy, introduces himself then proceeds to walk into the over head projector surgery light with a reverberating "Doinggg!" after hitting his head. I really did panic when he then went to put the needle in my hand and I heard those not so encouraging words of "Oops". The words "Oops" and clinical staff never go well together, especially when sharp instruments are involved.
Really it's just a case I'm a natural born pussy and have always been fearful. From an early age if I knew there was some sort of vaccination going on at school I would think of a way of getting the day off.

Now my technique for needle fear is look away and think of something like a shopping list, obviously not a boring food shopping list, no a bike porn shopping list. See it worked "sharp scratch" the nurse says and it's in and taped down. A quick flush with some saline and then the nurse is on taking my blood pressure.

The antibody drug Ritixumab is then placed upon my drip stand,attached and fed in ever so slowly. This drug can cause an allergic reaction and lower a patients blood pressure so has to be infused very slowly. The bendamustine which is the chemo drug can go through a lot quicker.

As I sat in the recliner chair the chemo department started to fill up. And after a while I struck up a conversation with a very nice gentleman and shortly after a lovely couple. We discussed a wide variety of topics which as you can imagine included what types of cancer we had all presented with. I have to say I was amazed at how up beat and open everyone was. The young lady of the couple asked some very interesting questions as I did of her. I like people who are like this, they quite often say "I hope you don't think I'm being rude". I don't think it's being rude to take an interest in someone it's just being inquisitive and this is how we learn and grow. I discovered the young couple just live up the road from me in my good friends Lee and Michelle's estate so I fully intend to take them up on their offer and call in and see them at some point. I would love to introduce them to Lee and Michelle as they are genuine friendly salt of the earth people and what with Michelle kicking cancer's ass in her brave fight last year well it gives us all common ground. People don't realise that cancer doesn't just effect the person who has it, it effects whole families and close friends too. For me speaking as someone caring for my mam when she had terminal pancreatic cancer I can't describe the emotional roller coaster and the feelings of guilt and anger I went through. Of course I was also very proud when I heard my dad tell people of how  proud he was of how I cared for my mam in her final weeks. When we lost my mam it was a huge devastaing loss, however I took something positive from her passing and I use it almost everyday in my current job. Compassion and care and looking at how I can do the best for people. I know my mam would approve of this and be so very proud to see that although I was never going to be a high flyer I am happy in what I do and how I try to make a difference.

Today was one long session, 7 hours sat in a reclined chair does your back no good at all. As I'm sat here typing this up I can honestly say that the worst thing about today is my back, it's aching like hell tonight. So No not the sickness so far it's early days but I have none. Yes I'm tired, but hey that may be that I have been feeling tired for months now anyhoo. I did have a bit of a headache when I left the treatment and also felt a tad light headed, a good long doze cured that when I got in after having something to eat.

I now have lots of other meds to take at home. Steroids, ant- sickness meds and more anti-sickness meds in case the first ones don't work. Oh and the ones I'm going to hate taking which are anti-biotics. I will be on these the length of my treatment 6 months, then have to take a further 6 month course.

Tomorrow is round 2 at 11am, it shouldn't take as long as it's just the chemo treatment. Then I'm off for a month before round 3 and 4 start.

I have been given advice on do's and don'ts. Things like not mixing with people with infections and being more careful should I go out mountain biking. I have a habit of getting scrapes and scratches so ill have to be aware of these and try and watch what I'm doing. I caught my leg on a wire fence pole when out with John last week and got a big scrape. Any other time it would be considered innocuous, I will now have to think just that little bit more and take a tad more care.

I will write more for hose of you who are interested, trying to keep it light, but real.

I will end with my  Virgin Just Giving Page. I'm not asking for donations for myself but my chosen charity Arctic ONE who have been of immense support to me. Arctic ONE helped fund raise to get me a running prosthesis and obviously I'm gutted I can't take part in this years Arctic ONE Tri- festival at Dorney Lake. I know this has been out of my control, never the less I still feel a sense of failure and guilt at letting everyone down. That includes my friend Brian Bartlett who always writes such inspiring mails to me. Pace Rehab for their tireless  work, Bike Swanky who sponsor me on my PYGA and of course Arctic ONE. I have had great words of encouragement from all these people and I guess that support epitomises what these people represent. Of course what they get from me is they know I will never quit and I write a lot...I mean a lot. It only takes one person to say something that then sparks an interest in someone else and before you know it people are sharing info and ideas and looking at positive ways to help support or change things for the better. Well that's what I hope happens when I write, you guys are the judge of that.

A huge thank you to everyone you, help to make me who I am and life's battles appear easy with friends at your side.

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