Having got to the end of week one I think I’m beginning to realise how hard this is going to be. I haven’t done what you might call a proper job for a long time but this definitely feels like one. Cancer turns out to be admin-intensive.
There are all the appointments to keep track of. There’s the radiotherapy schedule, the chemotherapy schedule, the hospital transport schedule. Then there are meetings to plan in, meetings with dietitians, RIG nurses, registrar, consultant, the list goes on. My file marked cancer now has its own diary section. And it has a section for contact details, one for medications, another for good cancer jokes (that’s pending).
But the daily radiotherapy is pretty much a doddle. Having been placed in the appropriate position, it’s just a case of lying back with the tight-fitting mask on and keeping still (not that it’s possible to do much else) while listening to the rather dubious selection of tunes being played via the in-house music system. This week it was either The Proclaimers or Queen’s greatest hits. I found myself preferring to try and concentrate on the whirring and beeping of the machine as it directed its x-rays at my cancer. I recalled Obama and the fly, his proud ‘got that sucker’.
It doesn’t hurt. I felt nothing. And it’s all over within ten minutes. To be honest I was a tiny bit disappointed.
Chemo is tougher though. Once a week for five weeks is going to be more than enough for me. For a start there’s the canula issue. After the previous week’s episode I arrived all fading bruises and held my arms out for more punishment. And I wasn’t disappointed.
It took two goes, even with warming my hands up under a heated blanket.
But then there is the fluid issue. There is a huge amount of liquid that gets put through the canula. Litres of the stuff. There’s the chemo itself (I was getting something called Carboplatin) and there are the anti-emetic drugs to stop vomiting. And then the water they flush the system through with.
Now all this fluid, coupled with the common MS symptom of urinary urgency, leads to continence issues. I’m sure you can imagine some of the rest.
Radio and chemotherapy are making me really fatigued. On friday night I slept for nearly eleven hours. And they are making me feel nauseous. The chemo nurse presented me with a batch of vomit bowls which I have placed strategically, though so far I haven’t had to use them. The problem is more a constant sensation of biliousness, that with just a bit more of a push that’ll be it. But not quite yet.
The weekend (when cancer has a break) couldn’t come fast enough. But the knowing that there’s another five weeks of this to come is not good.
On the plus side, my throat seems to be ok for now. I’m told it will soon become painful and most likely ulcerated, meaning that I have to start using the feeding tube. At present that is simply being flushed through with water by the district nurses who visit daily.