Yesterday was a harrowing day to put it lightly. We were up and about before 5am and well and truly ready to go to the hospital for my next course as an outpatient.
Everyone I have spoken to about the distance between this unit and the hospital, has casually said ‘It’s just across the road, not far’…..well maybe not for well people. I thought I’d be fine and decided to give it a go. The short distance which is down a short street, round the corner then another corner looks like nothing really. Slightly uphill so good to get the old ticker beating and excellent exercise for those leg muscles that have taken to cramping a bit with all this going on. After a lot of rests on the way, we got there at last.
As we entered a lift to go to the 4th floor Oncology a wards man told us we couldn’t go that way and directed us to Maternity. Really? Does my Buddha stomach look like a pregnancy? Eeeek! Bugger these steroids. Eventually we found the right place, I was exhausted and we were told there were no appointments for me till much later. What happened to the 7.40am? I think they took pity on me though, and I soon saw a female doctor whose name I cannot recall, but at least she is part of the Dr Morris/Jason Butler team.
An elderly couple arrived and parked themselves opposite my sister and I. The old guy who delivers the paper to patients etc arrived and was thrilled to see me, and of course I bought the paper even though it was the last thing I had any intention of reading. The old boy opposite put on a bit of a turn as if he had to pay for it, and went on and on…no doubt his illness and drugs doing it to him, but it became a little tedious. His wife just smiled inanely and stared at us. I was so pleased to be called in by my nurse for the day, Carmen, for blood tests.
My sister left then as she had a few things she wanted to get done in the unit as well as for herself…..a good cup of coffee at the nice looking little coffee shop nearby for starters.
The nurse took me into the chemo rooms, settled me in a bed and explained the chemo drugs and what possible side affects I could suffer. I was instructed to tell her of any tiny change at all as it could escalate in no time. A foul tasting fluid was given to me to drink because I can’t swallow huge tablets, and she set about sorting the chemo into the PICC line in my left arm. All good. Nothing to report.
Half an hour slid by and she returned with a syringe full of dark brown liquid. Carmen told me she would add it to my IV line very slowly otherwise I would have the worst restless leg syndrome ever. Cramps were the problem…..especially in my right foot.This drug could possibly cause serious side affects the worst being coronary, aneurysm, or anaphylactic shock. I snoozed as all was good.
I awoke to the noisy entrance of the old boy and his wife from the reception area. He was soon settled into a comfortable recliner chair, his wife sat in a comfy chair by the side and pulled her knitting out. He pointed at me and said loudly ‘That’s her from out there. I wonder what she’s having?’ Well you know what Pop? You are welcome to what I’m having if you think it’s going to do you any good.
This couple proved to be a bit of an entertainment for a while until the point when he became obnoxious.They were like the country bumpkins come to the big smoke for treatment and determined to take whatever is on offer. Cliff is the kind larger than life soul who comes around the entire hospital with his food and drinks trolley….he is always keen to make sure one takes something to eat as well as drink, with a little treat or snack for later. He was always trying to leave chocolates for me, but they were not on my taste buds’ menu. The couple over the way ordered 2 rounds of tuna sandwiches each, a cup of tea each, several muesli bars to keep ‘strength up’, biscuits, chocolates etc. Basically anything on offer.
They proceeded to down this food and complained the tea was luke warm. By this time the first sign of a side affect was happening, so the nurses pulled the curtains and slapped the oxygen on me and adjusted the drugs etc….I could hear the old bloke asking whoever passed by his chair ‘What’s wrong with her then? What’s happening with her?’ It was not concern, it was nosiness and if I could have I’d have told him to mind his own business, but funnily I was fighting to breathe at the time.
At this point I was given a huge dose of Phenergan to knock me out. The nurse who was just so lovely, stayed with me and patted my hand as I drifted off. Peaceful blissful sleep. It was the best rest I’ve had in weeks. Three hours passed by with my not knowing what the old boy and his wife were up to. When I came to, Cliff was visiting again with his full trolley and I almost choked when this couple ordered the same amount of sandwiches, snacks etc. They were having a picnic at the hospital’s expense.
Thanked Cliff, but no thanks and sank back into a blissful snooze until it was time to leave. All the drugs done with and everything fine other than feeling very tired and worn out. Next step was to make our way back to the unit. My sister was adamant we would not be walking. It was raining, a little cool and I was just too knackered so we hailed a cab. For the princely sum of $5.80, we made it back in one piece.
Every step I take these days I regard as my first step of the next part of this trek. I am sure it will get easier and smoother as time and the treatment goes on. The challenge for today is to ring the doctors to ask about the schedule I am supposed to have for my future appointments. Somewhere along the line, a big chunk of information has been missed being handed to me. No biggie, but something I could do without having to think about.
Last night I slept well. Woke about three times during the night compared to each hour. At 5ish this morning I made a cup of tea and a piece of toast and vegemite. Vegemite is the best for all Aussies in my opinion, nothing beats it. When I was little, my mother used to make a ‘broth’ for me of vegemite and hot water and it was life’s elixir. I don’t fancy it now as an adult, but the comfort one gets from a yummy piece of toast laden with butter and then ‘touched’ with vegemite is incomparable. Some slather it on the toast like jam or honey, but that is just too much for me. So tea and toast and a chat, then a rest, then breakfast of natural yoghurt and fruit, followed with my glass of icy orange juice and numerous tablets. Not a bad start to the day when all is said and done.
I am so grateful to each and every nurse who has helped me through this. No doubt I will meet many more in the future and they will be just as wonderful. The care, consideration and attention from these people, men and women, is a wonder to watch and restores my faith in my fellow human beings. Today is such a busy world and very few have the time to exchange a few pleasantries unless it’s in an automated tone of the checkout staff at the supermarket. They invariably ask ‘How has your day been?’ and I always answer with ‘Fine, thank you’, when in reality they couldn’t give a damn and I am wasting my breath answering the mundane question. The nurses are not like this. They genuinely care. We are lucky to have them.
So it’s the weekend and I won’t be dancing at nightclubs tonight or tomorrow night. It will be nice to have both my husband and my sister here to chat, laugh and plan with. No stress. My job is to ensure I don’t get a fever or some such thing which would necessitate my return to the hospital pronto. It’s all going well so I don’t foresee that happening.
As a last note, I met Shari in the chemo room yesterday. Her brother’s girlfriend was with her. She looked worn out, but said she felt okay now she was staying with her parents. Of course the hardest part is missing the kids and not being able to see them due to their having sniffles and coughs which is rife for little ones at this time of the year. She is smiling though and she told me that some of my positivity has rubbed off on her and she is sure she will win this battle. Good to hear.