The first experience of chemo

First Chemo Treatment – Friday 22nd May 2020 – Long

 After receiving the phone call to confirm the 2nd Covid19 Negative Test, Dal and his brother left at 10.20am to go to the Hospital. Arriving at 11.30, Dal went in alone to the chemo floor – there he booked into reception, waited for about 1 hour before being called in to the outpatients ward  - treatment room  – where he waited for the medication to come up, they came round with food which for him was two yogurts and black coffee, although he asked for black tea. Coffee. he wasn’t allowed the ice cream due to the chemo treatment being reactive to the cold Thermometer, and couldn’t eat the sandwiches due to being unable to swallow too well, (bread getting stuck in his throat), so yogurt was his only option food wise.

Dal’s Pic site was cleaned for the first time and re-dressed before being given the anti -sickness medication just after 1pm. A little later they put the first of the drugs, this lasted for 90 minutes as apposed to 60 as it was the first infusion, and they wanted to ensure that he did not have any negative reactions to the medication.. Just after 3pm this process finished – All good... No reaction… So Far So Good!

The line was flushed with what Dal said smelt like medical grade alcohol, which took approximately 15 minutes, then they put on the temperature sensitive medication infusion, which took about 2 hours before the bag emptied. This was done at the normal speed for this process, in all approximately 5.5 hours. 

The rest of the time in between was spent getting his medical card for his wallet, treatment diary, filled in and his pic line care book, all the formalities were being undertaken during this time, alongside another cup of tea and his 4 steroid tablets. In addition he was given the anti-sickness drugs for the next 5 days and the steroids to take prior to the next visit.

Once the two hour one finished at 17.30 they had to flush the pic line again, and then fitted the 24 hour pump bag, which he was advised, is not to be snagged. When sleeping he had to ensure the line is not crimped or caught and the balloon pump is to be monitored from time to time to ensure it is deflating and forcing through the drug.

18:00 Dal left the treatment room and went to the reception to register and book transport home.

18.25 – Transport taxi arrived and brought Dal home for around 19:10 (took longer than normal due to traffic) 

It was a this stage that Dal learnt that due to Covid19, all Cancer patients at his hospital are to be provided free transport without a means test assessment.

During the day, Dal met another patient who had a diagnosis which went from being operable and cureable, to treatable -  he had been on holiday during the course of his treatment – he had told Dal, mental fitness, go out, keep away from too many people, stay strong.  70% of people die with Cancer not because of it. - Dal found this to be a really positive conversation, and much gratitude is given to this stranger for the conversation on the day. 

At the point that I wrote this, Dal's only recognisable side affect at this time is when he was going to the toilet, he compared it to eating a field of asparagus. Certainly whilst he was in hospital it was very strong, not quiet so bad when he came home.

When home, he made himself something to eat and had a nap in the chair until I came home, I later noticed Dal protecting the chemo bottle as you would a new born baby, he was communicative and happy to share his experience with me, I recognise that not everyone would be as open, but I am blessed to have the opportunity to share this journey as much as possible with my man at this time.. 

For me....  I had chosen to go to work, I knew that just sitting around at home would have not been the best idea, but by being at work I was not indoors when he returned. In some ways this is a little sad, but in another way this gave him the opportunity to rest. I recognised during this time that my inner worry was better controlled at work. Not being able to be at the hospital and support him I find most difficult, but he says, "You would be bored senseless" Upside down so I suppose it is only right to try to carry on in this massive new normal that we are still trying to get our head around. 

Saturday, was a day of rest, mainly due to the bottle still being connected, me constantly asking how he is feeling and him sleeping on and off in the chair Sleeping District nurse came in late afternoon, removed the bottle, flushed the line and covered the Pic line, the day seemed to fly past. During the day he had experienced constipation, this had been a continuation from Thursday and Friday he took some Fybogel, he wasn't eating well at this time, but had managed breakfast. Relaxed and then a veg smoothie for lunch. Carrot

Sunday, Cornflakes for breakfast and would you believe it! up he gets and starts hoovering Scream puts a wash load on and tries to get it all done before I get home from doing the shopping Hugging he was exhausted and out of breath and half way up the stairs with the hoover when I came back through the door, he said he wants to carry on and do what he can when he can Muscle 

Monday and Tuesday were not so good, Dal experienced bouts of diarrhoea and stomach cramps, on contacting the chemo hotline he was advised to take two Imodium. We made smoothies daily, which he took alongside his Fresubin and occasionally a bowl of soup and this managed to get him through those past few days.. The anti-sickness tablets that he had taken daily did their job.

We have also monitored his weight, May 10th 14st 2lb  - May 18th 13st 13lb & 7/8th  - May 26th 13st 8lb & 1/8th

Over the next two days Dal managed mashed food, though he has found chicken hard to swallow, even broken down. 

Friday 29th the District nurse came to flush and clean the pic area with two syringes of alcohol based cleaner,  and change the dressing, using the dressings provided by the hospital. On Saturday afternoon Dal felt a soreness under the sleeve of his Tshirt, on investigating he noticed that a large blister had formed around the edging of the dressing. Another call to the chemo hotline - "Come in tomorrow"

Sunday 31st May, our youngest daughters' birthday Gift off we go to the hospital, as normal, Dal goes in alone.  Wasn't there too long, a clean dressing but also another Covid19 swab test due to Dal developing a cough... "Don't cancel the transport for your blood tests on Tuesday he was advised"

Tomorrow will be June 1st,  New Month, New Week; let's hope it is a better month than the last Fingers crossed