I alluded to doing this in my previous blog posts as I have been repeatedly asked to describe my experience with Chemotherapy.
How I experience it, however I feel I should make something clear first.
This won’t be how you or someone else experiences chemotherapy. It hits everyone differently. I understand, this is how I experience it.
So to mention, we tried something new in Session 5.
I Can’t remember which of the nurses on Ward 10 of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital recommended this but I actually go into hospital 3 times on a Chemotherapy week *(You may remember I go once every two weeks. My Chemo is 4 part. 3 of which are administered over a 7 hour period and then I am ‘connected’ to a vacuum pump which over the next 48 hours drip feeds the final chemotherapy and on the glorious Friday of the week, I get ‘Disconnected’)
So now it works this way:-
Tuesday I visit hospital as an out patient, I have my port connected. Now to give you a description of what that means I will give you a couple of photos. It does look like you’re going to see my nipples. Sorry not sorry.
I was offered a chance to have a CT Rated Infusion Port installed. Dr Frank fitted me out with this bad boy:-
So what we do here is pierce the skin of my chest, directly into the port. The port itself. So far it’s hurt 4 out of 5 times. It’s like a crunch and then it’s over. I have always been able to feel the draw of blood. I hear this is a rarity.
And this is what it looks like:-
You still have to puncture my skin repeatedly I don’t like the idea of an open connection. The idea reeks of infection. What I have noticed is so far out of 5 sessions, I am currently 4/5 for a perfect connection. Session 4 was the only one I had to have the connector replaced. Which meant two stabs for the price of one. I am not doing too badly.
So yeah, I had to clip down my chest hair so that it isn’t ripped out by the repeated tape removal. I ain’t no Tom Selleck but I don’t want any chest hair being ripped out thank ya very much! Once a port has a connection I can have bloods taken directly from his tube once they’ve flushed out the port connection with my jugular vein with a bit of saline solution. Always served F***ing arctic cold.
So that’s the point of a Tuesday connection and bloods day. This gives me the ability to visit ward 10 on my Wednesday ‘Connection day’ has become my ‘Chemo day’ and Fridays are still ‘Disconnection days’ (the best days) Usually followed by Scream for Pizza. Arguably the best pizza in Newcastle. By that I mean, you can say differently and I will argue with you.
So why do this, why have the port connected for an extra night? Well, it truly does save about 3 hours on Chemo day. You would usually have your port connected first thing. Takes like 2 minutes. Then bloods would be taken, and that’s where the wait begins, they can ask me all the relevant questions on how I have been. Any colds or coughs, any infections? (Bowel or Lung etc) However it’s the lab’s decision on whether I can have chemotherapy or not. They then create the prescription and send it over to ward 10 to be administered and therein explains the wait time.
So now I can turn up and have Chemotherapy or be called at home to be told I cannot come in and have it.
This port really is amazing. I swear if anyone reading is on Chemotherapy and is going to have it for a long period of time like I am, get the bloody port installed. You don’t have to go through this bollocks anymore:-
I’ve explained before, I have to have atropine before every chemotherapy session. This helps me with my temperature. I always overheat during chemotherapy. Because of the way that the port works and because it’s connected to my jugular vein, it means with every beat of my heart the chemotherapy is pumped to everywhere in my body.
I mean it kind of makes sense to do it this way. What I found was that for about every 10 or so beats of my heart I noticed the heat increase across my entire body. Another 10 or so beats hotter, hotter, sweating now, but I’m okay. Have a drink, that’ll help…. Nope. Take hoodie off, just a t-shirt, due to the time of year I got cancer, I’ve barely just come out of wearing shorts all the time, I feel this did help with the time of year and ambient temperature of the ward.
I often ask Kerry if it’s hot and she’s pretty good at setting me straight when it is hot.
I have to take my temperature a lot because of fever and how quickly due to my lack of white blood cells, infection can spread. You all know what happened last time I had to use my cancer card at A & E in the Q.E and I’d quite like to never repeat that.
So after atropine, I don’t feel that gradual heat building. I know it’s there because you can’t stop the sweat. The reclining chairs they have in hospital don’t half make you stick to them. I guess it’s why you’re always offered a pillow for your back.
The Q.E. bring food around about 12:00 and at this point, I can still eat. Not much, they always offer soup but it’s usually pea and ham and I don’t eat red meat. I don’t really eat meat anymore. I haven’t said concrete I am veggie but I rarely eat anything other than fish. You know what? I’m totally fine with that. I always enjoyed fish and would often choose it over meat. However I know that the red meat is damaging for me. So I have cut it out, like smoking and drinking, I haven’t touched either in months.
However, they do offer sandwiches. They’re okay, they’re pretty much standard, cheese savory, egg mayo, tuna mayo, ham and pease pudding (Look it up non-geordies)
I asked for Egg, got egg and red onion, not a combination that in my humble opinion should ever be. Got a rice pudding and a banana for a spoon.
However. Along comes stage 3 of chemo, notice the syringe going into the machine?
I lose the sense of taste pretty much after this one goes in me:-
In the image above I have the same dosage as in the image below but it’s administered in about 1/144th of the time. So like 20 minutes and not 48 hours.
When the pump is connected to the lead, I am pretty much free to go. We pack up shop. Macbooks, phones, chargers food wrappers. We often sneak in stuff from the hospital Costa or shoppe.
Then comes the standard 48 hours of hell.
I have described it before but in a ‘readers digest’ version.
It’s shite! It’s hot and cold. Tired and insomnia. Awful thoughts when you’re awake and nightmares when you sleep. Something isn’t right but you can’t put your finger on it.
The dog knows. He’s rarely boisterous around me on chemo. He knows I smell different. Clinical if you will.
I’m a misery, I become so forgetful, I become so irritable, an emotional wreck but I soldier on I guess.
Kerry will have her times away. Dog walks I cannot get on, trips to the gym I cannot risk due to infection. Not that I have the energy to leave the house.
That’s is really, it’s Friday now. 14:00 BST-ish at the time of writing. I have about 3 hours before I need to get up and motivate. I can feel that the pump is nearly empty as I am starting to feel better by the minute.
A quick check and yeah, it’s empty, well the dregs will be going into my system for a little bit but it looks like we’re done. Roll on 18:00 and I can have this thing disconnected from my chest and I can start feeling better. I was able to share some fish and chips with Rupert last night. Him getting the lion share but it’s what I thought I could eat so I tried.
Please like if you liked it and let me know if I haven’t described it in enough detail or if you have a question please ask it here so other people can see the reply I give. May stop them asking the same question in future.
Mood: A little anxious/excited about having the port removed (pain)
Pain: 2/10 Back down, haven’t passed much, Rupert lay on top of my port for a while last night and kicked it getting off me. That’s unpleasant an experience I can tell you.
Appetite: Cannabis oil dictates you will eat. Just not fussed.
Weight: 198 lbs 89 KG 14 St