Spring is one of my favourite seasons, the other is autumn. We associate new beginnings with spring, and that is what I am hoping for. It has been a very tough and bumpy road over the past 2 – 3 weeks, and with the final chemo course due to begin next week, we have everything crossed in the hope that future bumps are tiny ones.
Recovery after the last course didn’t happen this time. My mouth was full of ulcers which spread down my throat making eating and drinking, and especially taking my tablets, impossible. My temperatures were high but just below the 38C most of the time. On the Wednesday of that first week after chemo, my temp exceeded that and any arguments I had about not going to hospital were overridden by Tim. The nurses in the Chemo ward put me on a bed, wrapped me up in warmed blankets (oh to have a blanket warmer at home!), and proceeded with blood tests, fluids by IV, drugs to bring down the temp and ease the pain of my mouth and throat.
Sam the very relaxed doctor, came in with his ‘listening pipes’ as he calls the stethoscope, and said I would be going to Ward 5C for at least a week. This all seemed to eventuate in next to no time, and funnily I found myself in the very first bed I was in back in May. Same room, same nurses, it was a case of de javu for me.
More tests of various kinds, x rays, ECGs, swabs, and so on. The following morning I went for a shower feeling rather hot, but ok. By the time I got back to bed, I was freezing and shivering so violently I couldn’t breathe. Every bone and joint in my body throbbed, and I gasped for air…it was rather frightening. Oxygen did nothing to help, and they piled blankets and heat pads on me while my body shook the bed trying to get warm. I don’t recall the drugs being administered but finally after about 20 minutes, my body calmed down and I was able to breathe. All good I thought, until the vomiting started, followed by the pouring of every conceivable liquid from every orifice of my body….not pretty.
The nurses were great and one in particular, an older and wonderful lady called Blanka who takes no nonsense from anyone, had me cleaned up and warm and comfortable again in no time. In the meantime, Tim had arrived at the hospital with some pj’s and bath products for me, but wasn’t allowed in the room. One of the doctors explained what was happening which must have been rather scary for him seeing all the rushing in and out of the room. The last time he’d seen me I was relatively ok.
Later a couple of the doctors came in to tell me I had an infection mainly in the gut, and they needed a certain antibiotic to fight it. They were also cultivating other bacteria from swabs and tests taken to ensure they had it all in hand. A blood transfusion was the order of the day. That Thursday was a long day.
The following morning I was advised the antibiotics were to be changed again, because results from the labs indicated blood infections. By this stage I was still battling with my mouth and throat and unable to eat or drink much more than a mouthful each meal time. Painkiller injections were offered but I accepted them sparingly. I’m not anti opiates at times like these, but I don’t think I personally need to have them constantly for pain….I like to be ‘with it’ and sadly these drugs knock me out easily.
Saturday morning saw my temperature down to almost normal again, and I was feeling tired and weak but better about things in general. My shower was the highlight of the day, but this day I noticed the area around my PICC line was swollen, red and hot…obviously infected also. It had to be removed, and was ordered to be done so by one of the senior doctors as soon as she examined it.
My heart sank. The removal meant the necessity of a cannula in my arms for the IV lines. Not such a biggie in theory, but unfortunately, the drugs being fed via the IV caused my veins to collapse after 24 hours, which meant a new jab each morning for a cannula, and a jab for blood tests. My arms are still bruised and tender from all the jabs.
By Monday it was decided no more cannulas could be inserted into my poor worn out veins, so drugs had to be taken either by injection or orally. A morphine syrup was given for me to swallow 30 minutes before taking the drugs. It worked, but it made me sleep too. Emotionally I was spent. Like a big baby, I cried and just wanted it all over. One of the nurses said she wanted to take me home with her to care for me, which made us both laugh again. Her hug was a welcome comfort though. Poor Tim had to wear the brunt of my teary self whenever he arrived at the hospital….I felt guilty putting him through this.
By Tuesday, it was agreed I could go back to the unit now that the drugs were being taken orally. Most of the day is spent in bed asleep, with a short time taking drugs and trying to eat and drink. Not easy and with feeling so weak and exhausted, it was a battle I was growing tired of. The most worrying thought for me right now, is that the last course (yaaay!) of chemo is due to start Tuesday. My mouth and throat isn’t completely healed yet, and will cop another battering with this next dose.
Yesterday, Friday, I saw Doctor Kate…I haven’t seen Kate for a few weeks so it was nice to see her again, but I blotted my copy book by becoming tearful again. She was upset but kind, saying if I didn’t have the right to be emotional now, then when would that ever be? It made me laugh at least. Later, while waiting in the blood ward for IV fluids (dehydrated), Kirk popped out of his room to tell me to ‘Hang in there. You are almost there and you will get there, I promise.’ I appreciated his words of support and they made me feel a tad more positive again.
Tuesday will be a full day beginning at 7.30am when I’m booked in for the new PICC line. Followed by a chest xray to ensure it’s in the right spot, then blood tests, then a consultation with Kirk, then chemo.
I can’t say I’m feeling as brave as I have been in the past. I reckon I need lots of positive vibes to help me through. Tim, Steven, my in-laws, sisters and close friends are all there for me, but this is a battle only I can take on and beat. Wish me luck.
The week of chemo will no doubt be ok…it’s the week after that has me worried. I’ll try to keep you up to date on Facebook as much as I can, but as you have probably noticed I haven’t been around there often lately.
Much love to you all and thanks for being here with me.