Chemo Day 1 yesterday – what a day! Physically I started off feeling terrific and well prepared with 2 eggs for breakfast as well as fresh pawpaw, peach and yoghurt. Then with Mum and Janet to hold my
hands I felt ready for anything. However, emotionally I started to crumble at the blood test when I was told off for not coming the day before. (Our instructions had been “on the day is OK”.) Tears came when we met the new Registrar of Oncology and tried to plan future chemo cycles. Should I have the blood test at the local hospital each time? It might be critical in the decision to go ahead and fly down for a session, eg if blood count is too low, best to delay. We talked in frustrating circles till she asked “How far away do you live?” – !!*! Once she understood the vast distances involved, her recommendation was “just stay in Brisbane for the 6 months.”
Janet insisted we seek advice from someone in the department who has some experience with country patients flying in, and this got results. For now we’ll stick with our plans but do the blood test in Brisbane on Tuesdays before chemo on Wednesdays, then cope with any delay if it happens. It was a relief to have most of our questions answered by the chief oncologist, while the Cancer Care Coordinator has even visited the Tablelands! It took the rest of the morning to listen to details about the treatment and how to cope with all that is ahead.
I was exhausted by the time the IV drip was plugged into my wrist at 12:45pm. The nurses were kind and I ate lunch and rested but after half an hour of receiving the cytotoxin I was reacting badly, feeling very ill and hot – followed by shivery cold. The staff leaped into action and administrated different drugs for counteracting the side effects and eventually I fell asleep. The rest of the session I felt fine but just a bit foggy and cross-eyed. Visits by my Case Manager and Stoma Therapist helped to resolve other issues and my spirits rose till I felt great at tea time and enjoyed my meal.
At 6:20pm we were released and I was keen to walk back to our flat and even walk to the shop with the others too! You will agree I was back to normal when you hear that next I organised a late evening scrounging trip (although I didn’t participate) for my nephew and friends to inspect a stack of great office gear being given away by the hospital. We had walked past it on our way back.
This morning I’m feeling fine – still waiting for the predicted symptoms of sore mouth, fatigue, insomnia etc. So far all I’ve noticed is I’m very thirsty and the toxins are melting the glue on my ileostomy appliance so it’s coming apart!
Note: Our flight from Sydney went well with a dear friend helping us with the departure. We changed our plans to take a taxi from Brisbane airport and Mum has been telling people afterwards that she loves being Superwoman! She did display super powers the way she handled both the luggage trolley and my wheelchair!
Many of the nurses wear cute fimo name tags and other decorative badges. In future I think I need to wear a badge (Janet’s suggestion) to say I’m from Yungaburra, FNQ, so no one assumes my chemo is an easy day out. I wonder if anyone out there has any ideas for making this …? Just a thought.