Many of you ask me what it’s like to go through chemotherapy – so I thought I’d diarise the day of my 5th infusion. It’s not as bad as you’re imagining. For me at least – I can’t speak for anyone else. Each drug combo is specifically prescribed for each person to suit their individual need so everyone has a different experience. This one is all mine.
12th May – 2:30am (Yes AM!!!!)
So later today I have my 5th chemo cycle. As is normal for chemo day I’m still awake at stupid o’clock. I’ve had zero sleep despite being in bed for 4 hours. Yesterday I took steroids to help prepare my body for the challenge ahead but unfortunately they keep me wide awake at night. I will “steroid up” for 3 days and will probably have very disturbed sleep patterns for a while. But that’s ok. Having dealt with insomnia on and off for years I know I can handle it so I don’t stress about lying awake anymore and I don’t panic about feeling tired the following day. It is what it is and let’s face it I have plenty of time to sit on my ass resting when I’m hooked up to a drip later today. Instead I make use of the time by catching up on reading, writing (I’ve started 3 blogs so far so you may get overloaded with posts if I think they’re worthy). I even considered recording Ad’s snoring but I thought that a bit mean!
12th May – 8:20am
So 6 hours later, after having 1.5 hours sleep (gotta love my Fitbit sleep monitor) I find myself back at the Alexandra Hospital naked from the waste up. Again. In fact I know this drill so I’m pretty much undressed before the technician has finished asking. Before I head up to the Garden Suite for my chemo, I’m having a heart echocardiogram. One of the side effects of my treatment is heart damage so I’m being checked over this morning. Scans will be compared to the baseline scan I had just before my 1st round of chemotherapy. I’m not overly concerned by all this really. Just one of many tests I regularly undergo. So I lie there while the sonographer scans my heart from all kinds of different angles while my boobs flop about very ungracefully. Lean over, breathe in, hold your breath, breathe out, cough, sniff, turn over. The instructions come thick and fast. At times like this I’m glad of my “more than a handful is a waste”, size 36B boobs. I have friends that have more ample breastage who would be a little more uncomfortable with all this. But it’s all over and done with in about 15 mins and I’m in plenty of time to get upstairs for my 9am chemo slot.
12th May – 9:10am
Today we have 80’s music in the Garden Suite – and who doesn’t love a bit of Blondie, Bananarama and Spandau Ballet. I’m weighed in (small weight loss since last weigh in, every cloud…), blood pressure and pulse checked and the cannula is inserted. Today we have to have a change of vein since the veins in my right hand are now a little damaged from the abuse they’ve taken over the last 4 treatments. It’s also looking like I have phlebitis (irritated vein) that looks to be clearing up but the nurse won’t risk pumping more poison through it. So a hand swap it is but it’s a more painful insertion than I’m used to and for the first time I yelp a little (wuss!). But it’s in and all sorted within a few minutes and now I have to sit and wait for my drugs to arrive.
12th May – 10:15am to 2:45pm
Now it gets dull. One by one the drugs are hooked up and saline flushed through between each one. I usually have a relatively easy ride with no problems. Which is ace.
Lunch gets a special mention. It is provided by the NHS and I’ve had it in the past but it’s not the best if I’m honest. Dry, uninspiring, white bread sandwiches just don’t cut it. I had planned to make my own packed lunch to bring but this morning turned quite manic after our dumb dog decided that today was a good day to end her early walk with a roll in fox poo. Great. Cue Ad having to spend time shampooing hosing her down on the drive at 7:15 this morning. It’s a good job she’s cute! I’m getting the kids up, fed and ready for school so there’s no time to sort a packed lunch. Fortunately Ad managed to source a half decent wrap and pineapple cream from the hospital cafe before he heads off and leaves me to it for a while. It’s pointless both of us being stuck here and I can read my kindle in peace!
So 4 hours after the first drug pumps into my veins it’s all over. I’ve spent the time reading, answering messages and writing. Puzzle books, magazines and my mini laptop remain unused in my bag. The nurses are as amazing as always. Attentive, friendly, kind, compassionate and they’re on the go constantly. Totally wonderful people.
As expected I’ve had no issues and there’s been no excitement. I’m glad of the company when Ad arrives for the last hour or so. I’m sent home with a bag full of medication which has to be taken over the next few days.
I have my usual concoction of 3 different types of anti sickness pills, steroids, injections to boost my good white blood cells, drinks sachets to combat constipation, pills to help with diarrhoea (yep I get both in the next few days sometimes within hours of each other) and mouthwash to tackle mouth ulcers (fortunately this hadn’t been a side effect for me yet).
12th May – 3:15 pm
There’s no place like home ❤ I’m totally shattered after so little sleep last night so I immediately hit the sofa. Because I’ve not rested enough today…. 😂😂😂 I feel totally well apart from the tiredness. There’s nothing going on physically yet. Like I said – easy ride. If I can get a half decent sleep tonight I will feel much better. My sense of taste will gradually start to die off from tomorrow and it will be at least 10 days before food tastes good again. That’s tough for someone like me who enjoys eating and drinking. But it really could be so much worse!
12th May – 7:45pm
Wow I’m tired. I need to try and stay up as long as I can so I have a chance at sleeping tonight. And I’m also feeling a bit queasy and already losing my appetite 🤢 I’m still on the sofa but have sole custody of the remote control so I’m having a bit of a soap-fest! I’m also getting loads of messages and phone calls from people who care. Which is fabulous and these definitely keep my spirits up. So thank you to everyone who took time out of their day and evening to have a chat with me #feelingloved 😍 😍😍
12th May – 9pm
Whoopsy! Just woke up after falling asleep on the sofa. I really hope that doesn’t turn out to be a bad move! Feeling quite awake now 😵😵😵
12th May – 9:50pm
Bedtime! Evening medication taken, a ginger nut eaten to ease the slight nausea I’m feeling (it’s like being pregnant all over again!) and I’m off to bed. I really hope this is my last diary entry for the day!
13th May – morning update
Yay – slept till 7:15am and I’m feeling fine. Still a little tired but an afternoon nap later will help with that later.
So that’s my 24 hour diary done so you all now know what chemo day looks like and if I had to sum it up in one word it would be “dull”. But dull is good because it means no adverse reactions and no huge side effects to cope with on the day. Dull is exactly what I wish for. I guess the downside is it makes for a slightly dull blog too. So if you’ve got to the end well done!