Tuesday, 17 May 2011

As sick as a...

Chemo cycle 2: I was hoping to sail through this cycle problem free like last time. Day 1 was fine, the steroids supported me. Day 2, I started to feel joint pain and the chemo fog began to descend. Chemo fog, I should explain, is a distinct muzziness and inability to concentrate. It is for me one of the worst side effects especially when combined with intense chemo sleepiness. I feel out of control and can only cope by staying in bed where I feel safe. Having spent the afternoon of Day 2 (Saturday) in bed only feeling muzzy and sleepy it was a shock to come to, at 02.30am, feeling sick. The powerful anti sickness tablets are very effective but I had finished them. In my muzzy, sleepy state I 'might' not have taken the other sickness tabs ( I will sort a system before next time), anyway I was soon sick. I kept being sick for a couple of hours, at which time I told Mr G that we had better seek medical help. He swung into action and soon we were off to the Out Of Hours Service. The doctor gave me an anti sickness injection and a prescription for anti sickness meds that I could dissolve in my mouth without having to swallow anything, and some rehydration salts to be collected when the shops opened at 10.00am. We headed home, where after a short respite I started being sick again. Mr G having heard me, rang The Hospital ( the oncology ward at Northampton). The Hospital told him to bring me in as soon as possible, so off we went. The ensuing car journey, as the one earlier, is best kept veiled in mystery, suffice to say the roads are bumpy and nauseating!
In my muzzy, sleepy and nauseous state, Talbot Butler Ward was quite intimidating and I was glad to have Mr G with me. The ward was very noisy and as each patient has an individual room, lots of closed doors. By this stage I was down to dry heaving as I was dehydrated and exhausted. My details were taken ( because of course my treatment is happening in Kettering) and obs were taken. After what seemed ages, I was moved to a proper room , instead of a treatment room, I sank gratefully onto the bed. The doctor came and took bloods and gave me an intravenous dose of the very strong anti sickness meds. The relief from the nausea was almost immediate and I began to relax a little. We were then left alone for several hours, and I was told to drink as much water as possible. I tried but the water tasted foul and the cup smelt so strongly of chemicals that it was a real struggle. I managed two cups of water in all. At about 3.15pm , the consultant oncologist arrived. He, to my delight, said they were going to send me home with extra, extra strong anti sickness tabs that they kept on the ward. Mr G was dispatched to fill the other prescription before the shops shut as the hospital pharmacy was closed! On his way out, Mr G reminded the staff that my cannula (tube in back of hand) needed removing before I could go home. A nurse appeared to deal with cannula and give me my meds, and I was free to go! Mr G had taken my hospital bag with him, and my bandana too. I've become so used to my lack of hair that I forget my appearance could be a bit of a shock. The surprised glances I received as I walked through the corridors, made me wonder momentarily, then I realised what it was. I put on my most positive, reassuring smile so I did not frighten the visitors!
This experience has taught me to sort out my medicines for the fuzzy, muzzy stage. I will never know if I did forget to take some. Help is at hand, even if it is quite a long way away. Lastly, I always knew to take the vomiting seriously, but it was alarming how quickly I went downhill. I narrowly avoided being admitted to hospital overnight. I really hope this was a blip. I shall tell my oncologist all about it next time I see her.
I'm a third of the way through my treatment, I'll keep facing forward and get this thing done.
PS We liberated some of those very handy hospital sick bowls - by doing this I've just ensured I won't ever need them!