Monday 16 November 2009

Everyday people on chemo

Slowly up from sleeplessness
The day started quite slowly for me, I did not sleep that much overnight, so it was dawn before the winks really set in.
But then, one wanted to wait up for the 07:00AM drug intake but slept past that time to just after 09:00AM. Naughty!
Soon afterwards the neighbourhood nurse arrives just before eleven to dress my foot which he now felt was looking a lot better, even I was not feeling as much pain, partly due to the absence of most of that necrotic tissue and the new pain medication.
When I finally got out of bed, I had enough time for breakfast then decided to take my own flask of Smoky Earl Grey tea, sugar, milk and my own mug – sometimes, what you want to be just so has to be made so by what you do yourself rather than rely on others to do.
A full house it seems
My friend had offered to escort me to hospital, which gave a very welcome feeling, especially if one were to feel a bit weary after treatment.
We took the public transport route and we were there in just 17 minutes and were 5 minutes in time for the 14:00 appointment.
Gosh! The out-patient chemotherapy room was a full house, all seats were occupied such that I was asked to wait about 5 minutes – I pretended to swoon which made everyone laugh or giggle at my antics – a pleasant way to say hello to everyone.
I took an ordinary seat and waited, browsing through my Economist magazine without much concern for whatever else was going on.
In just about 10 minutes a seat was vacated, cleaned up and available for me to use, I got in and before I had the needles stuck in, I had poured myself a cup of tea and had sipped half the cup.
Needles in everyday people
Looking around everyone in the room, they were everyday people, not many that much older than I was and hardly anyone looked sickly or incapacitated – we had all come from some place for this treatment that lasts probably an hour or two and then we would return to our abodes like ordinary people. Nobody had an “I am on chemo” sign stuck on them; they would have had to say so to be identified.
I usually like to have the needles stuck in my left arm and I look away towards to the right, since I am right-handed, it is good to have the right hand free for a pen on Sudoku. However, when I was in for the bloods last week the nurse insisted on using my right arm when I offered my left, so this time, much as I preferred the left arm, I allowed it to go in my right arm.
The saline drip was first attached then after confirming my date of birth which I hesitated to recall the Caelyx medication was attached, apparently, I am the only one with my kind of treatment, wrapped up in aluminium foil and timed to finish in an hour.
Infusing or extracting
In fact, not everyone was being fed intravenously, there were others having fluids drained out of them from either the chest or the abdomen, I did not find out if that was a kind of venesection, but the lady beside me gave up a good 6 litres of fluid which immediately went into the special bin, so none of that was for analysis.
As the hour passed, I had downed 3 cups of tea and had a wafer donated by one of the out-patients then the intravenous drip system beeped that it was running out of Caelyx, the system was then adjusted to flush the rest of Caelyx through the tubes into my system – that was easy to observe because Caelyx has a reddish colour.
Metal access but plastic endures
When it was all clear, the needle was removed and I was surprised to see that the insertion process was with a metal needle but that was retracted at the start to leave a plastic needle in the vein, then I understood why it looked flexible towards the end of the treatment – I must say there is a lot of ergonomic development on medicine delivery systems.
Soon, we were ready to leave, I felt strong enough to brave the public transport system and it was interesting to see this young man literally run into me trying to get on the tram first without due consideration of someone with crutches – when I remonstrated with a loud, “Excuse me” he caught himself and said sorry.
Getting home was without much event and that was my third course of chemotherapy completed.

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