Friday, 25 December 2009


Merry Christmas readers.

And what a strange Christmas it has been. There has been the arctic weather conditions (I hear a rumour that it's officially a White Christmas), there has been one of the greatest UK chart upset in history and I spent Christmas Eve receiving my first chemotherapy session.

I got dropped off at the Chemo ward at 10:15 and was out just after 3:30 ... a long day.

The ward is very informal, as are the nurses. There are plenty of helpful women kicking around to talk to and make you feel relaxed. There are chairs, tables, water coolers, hot drinks/soups machines, biscuits and NHS 'snack boxes' are bought around (sandwiches, crisps, choccy bar etc) . There is a row of modern beds, all remote controllable for people getting longer treatments like myself. Overall, the place is as good as you can hope for. Apart from the fact I would have rather been anywhere else than there, I couldn't fault it. Which is good, as I will be spending quite a bit of time here.

I bought the average age of the patients down by about 15 years yesterday. Most other people were 'getting on a bit' and I should have worn sunglasses, as light was refracting off their incredibly pale skin. They were shuffling around with bags of drips of blood attached to the poles, making small talk about tumour and bloody immigrants. At times, it looked a bit like a later level from a horror survival first-person-shooter game. Now, if only I had picked up that shotgun and ammo pack lying outside the door ...

The treatment went something like this ... quite a bit of that horrible preparation vein/needle/taping business ... lots of questions ... the usual. Before the main event an anti-sickness drip was fed in.

I was going to have 4 drugs administered (see previous blog entry). Two of these were in big syringes that went into the line 'thing' set up previously. Each took about 5 mins to be pushed through. Apart from the fact I'm squeamish and a bit of a big girl when it comes to pain, there really wasn't anything to report here. Oh yes, one was bright red which ensure that my next wee could have passed as Ribena.

OK, well, so far, so good. Then came a smaller drip bag, followed by a much bigger drip bag – Hard to say, but there must be 2 litres in there. This is where things got a little uncomfortable. The vein and arm started to hurt – like a dull pain running up the arm, being quite intense nearer the entry point. I hung in there for about 10 minutes before asking the nurse to turn down the speed of the drip.

It was explained to me that the pain was very common, everyone gets it – and it caused by nothing more sinister than the bag content being very, very cold. As the cold fluid hits the warm veins, it causes the nerves to contract and ... well, basically, it doesn't like it. I was given some of those nice 'wheaty' bags that you warm up microwaves, to place under the arm to heat the area and try to expand all the veins again. This helped.

In fact, things were going quite well, but at 2:00, I suddenly started going into involuntary extreme shivering. Starting off in the teeth and spreading though out my body. It was very intense and looked close to me having a full-on fit. The nurses started to inject me with antihistamines and something else, as well as taking some paracetomol to bring my temperature back down, as it was now hurtling up to counter the shivering. Thankfully, the whole episode was over in 30 mins – although I was now dopey as hell from the antihistamines.

It wasn't the 'cold' bag that caused this – apparently it was a reaction to one of the injected drugs and it has been seen before. Once I was happy-ish again, the rest of the treatment continued without any drama.

I've been given libraries worth of bumph to read but in terms of what's next, it's back for a quick check up on 29th to check everything is OK with my blood and that my next session is on January 7th. I've got the same treatment every 15 days for the next 8 months. Which is quite a depressing thought if I think about it too much.

I have been given three types of drugs I have to take twice daily. I can't even remember what they are all for – I know one is anti-sickness, one is something to do with the stomach lining and I have no idea about the third.

I got taken down to Surrey, where my dad is trying to make up for lost time, although he hasn't grasped the concept that I might not want to listen to Pearl Jam's new album very loudly first thing in the morning. Or at any time really. Silence is why I want to be honest, or maybe just the background noise of some distant whales and dolphins.

So – how am I feeling? Well, last night was not bad - nauseous is the word really. I've woken with all my hair and actually felt OK – but sadly as the day has progressed the nausea has turned into vomiting, which is become a bit more regular. Thankfully years of abuse have taught me how to be sick without too much drama – I know some people hate it – but it used to be part of my Saturday afternoon ritual so I could start refilling myself again.

Anyway, the sickness is pretty strong – I'm at that place where there's nothing else is coming out, so I'm trying to get some soup down in-between, fully expecting it to come back up in the next half hour.

I guess 24 hours ago I was still on the drip, so this is it and something I may have to get used to. Hopefully my system will get used to it soon enough.

It probably goes without saying that I can't really comprehend that it's Christmas Day – I haven't opened any presents yet and dinner is something that I'm trying to get my head around – but I'm in good enough spirits, I'm in good company and I'm still taking the piss out of everything, including myself, wherever possible whilst taking this 'a day at a time'.

So, a strange Christmas indeed. But it could be a lot worse and I most defiantly not sitting here feeling sorry for myself. I'm just sitting here feeling sick.

So, again, Merry Christmas to you lovely people, I hope you are having a great day.

Oh, one final thing – the layout of this blog is not that intuitive ... if you have something to say back, click the 'comments' link below each blog and you can leave your thoughts. I know some of you have not followed a blog before and probably are not aware.

Thanks all for now ... I'll post more if there's any changes. Apologies for typos and bad grammer - doing all this from the Blackberry - no broadband here (feel my pain).

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device


Artemis said...

Hi Spencer,

This is Emily, Jen's sister in Dubai. I just wanted to say hello and let you know that you were in mine and Jen's thoughts and conversation today.

I can only hope that you will be as comfortable as possible in the months ahead and, given that you have a habit of giving disease a run for its money, that you find yourself in 'recovery' again soon.

All the very best,


Anonymous said...

Hi Spencer,

Get well soon! Sending healing thoughts and vibes your way.

Take care and Merry Christmas!!