It was a much quieter trip out to Lismore yesterday. There was none of the predicted shouting, kicking, screaming, nor dummy spitting – just a quiet nothingness that it was happening. Kinda like being on a travellator where you commit to being ushered onto the moving ramp and glide, glaze-faced to your destination. It in fact set the tone for the morning, which went surprisingly well.
Arriving on time at the Cancer Care Unit (I know, amazing and it was a 9am kick off) and being greeted by a plump cherub named Kylie, whose job was to induct me/us into the IV chemo world in a beautifully, calm, succinct, caring, manner. Another angel with the nursing ‘it’ factor. Four hours passed easily with our cherub doing a quick wardrobe change into a lovely purple number while she proceeded to hook me up and explain thoroughly everything from how the chair works to what I can and can’t do whilst on chemo. I had no idea I needed to know how a chair works, don’t you just sit in it? No no no… you can sit, recline, ascend, descend, you can raise your legs to the horizontal position, or any other for that matter, and then there’s the arms. It’s like how hospital beds can turn into chairs and chemo chairs can turn into beds – they both need instruction booklets.
I asked our Cherub ‘what’s with the wardrobe change? I mean, why are you clad in protection gear whilst I am not?’ ‘Well it’s like this; I’ve been working with chemo for eight years and dealing with it day in day out, we need to protect ourselves as best we can’. Hmmm, ok then, never mind me already feeling like a freak!
Interestingly, there’s little I can’t do whilst on chemo. I can eat and drink what I like and can even keep up with the cannabis oil. What’s strange is I have to stop any naturopathic supplements? WTF? Apparently because there’s over 300 forms of chemo none of which have been clinically trialled with naturopathic supplements. Eye roll. But cannabis oil is ok?
Onto the “potential” side effects that oncologist James assured I wouldn’t experience. Apparently it’s the first two days that are the worst; your fingers and feet may feel really cold so wear slippers and gloves, especially if you handle anything from the fridge. Also don’t drink or eat anything cold on day one or two, you’ll feel your airway close and possibly panic. D’ya think? Shit. Damn, there goes my ice cream fixes let alone my G&Ts… they’re two things one cannot do warm. I was also given a thermometer and a ‘fever card’. If my temp hits 38° I’m to hit emergency – hard – and hand them the fever card. I sure hope they know what to do with it cos it all sounds a tad dramatic.
Whilst I tap this out, I’m noticing my cannula arm is feeling better. The cherub felt the top of my right wrist was the best possie for the cannula which given the size of the vein on my old squash arm, it was a good call. What she overlooked informing me of, was the weird sensation that would later travel up the vein to the crook of my elbow. Until now, I could’ve sworn the cannula went in there and all around the elbow is super sensitive. Kinda like that prickly burning sensation you get with shingles if you’ve ever had it, or dry ice and foil – cold yet burney and prickly. These weirdo sensations are supposedly in the first 2 days only. They better bloody be.
We even had a one on one session with a hospital pharmacist, which I have to divert for a moment here because she was far from what I perceive to be typical of the usually conservative appearance of a pharmacist. There was no white coat to be seen, although she was wearing a tight NSW Health issue navy blue pencil skirt with aqua pin-striped shirt and navy sweater, but thats where any skerrick of uniform stopped. I can pretty much guarantee NSW Health don’t provide peroxide or hair straighteners for her long locks, nor the false lashes, nor the black, enclosed, bondage looking, lace-up stilettos she sprinted about in. And yes she was tall, slim, heavily made up, and commutes from the Gold Coast. Got the picture?
In judging all of this, her knowledge floored us and thankfully defied my judgement of her appearance, big time. She ran through in more detail how the drugs work, a tad too bleak for this black duck. This is the bit that pushes my buttons, I’ve never been able to get my head around a body being pumped with toxins to eradicate corrosion but I guess as m’darlink puts it ‘treat it like rust… it’s gotta be cut out and then treated with anti-corrosion paint to repair it’. Ok m’darlink, I’ll do my best. Meantime, Barbie pharmacist went on to explain how all the oral drugs are charged and will be invoiced each month whilst the IV bits and extras like soap-free detergent, hand cream and thermometer are covered by medicare. Our public health system never ceases to blow my mind.
Next appointment is June 29. Meantime, I’m to take the same oral chemo as I did in phase one where I take three tablets with breakfast and three with dinner. This combined with the IV component is taken for 21 days and then nothing for the following seven days, with a total of eight cycles. Got that? Hope so cos I’m struggling!
After a big morning, we arrived home in time to greet our Care Connect provided cleaner. You’ve gotta love that. Care Connect is a program/service for out patients and assists them with domestic challenges during recuperation. I’m incredibly grateful for the service but wish our cleaning fairy was a little less ‘fairy’ and a lot more cleaner. Anyhow I went straight to bed, not so much from the chemo but for overall tiredness, and as you’ll see below, I was joined by some furry buddies.