Monday 18 January 2010

A prick in the metacarpals

The preparations

Getting up this Monday was done with one thing in mind, I was having my 6th chemotherapy dosage at 14:00 hours and everything had to be in place for that appointment.

I did some light shopping getting some milk for my tea and biscuits for my date and at about 13:15 hours, I took my first pill, this was prescribed to deal with the kind of chronic nausea I had experienced after my 5th dosage and that are probably the most expensive pills I have every ingested, the main pill which has 125mg of the active ingredient goes for EUR 32 and the other 2 pills of 80mg strength to be ingested each consequent day is about EUR 19.50.

Thank God, I am not American in America, insurance and the shouldering of burdens by our social welfare system has meant I have not expired and died but have hope and expectations of a better life ahead.

The boy without his people

I arrived at the out-patients ward about 5 minutes early, I barely recognised one of the nurses and one of the patients I had seen a couple of times who was probably on the same 3-week chemotherapy cycle as I am.

There was only one seat available, so I put up my coat and settled in for my first cup of tea, one of the patients was a teenager probably in his early teens, he did not seem to have been accompanied, from what I saw on the drip stand, I suspect he was having a blood transfusion.

He definitely had his wits about him, asking for his next appointment times and conversing quite well with the nurses – I would have expected either his parents or some older relation to be there with him, I suppose they were all confident he could handle things well, though I must say, when I did have my friend with me on my 3rd chemotherapy session it offered a sense of belonging and comfort.

A prick in the metacarpals

When I shook the nurse’s hand she thought my hands were a bit cold and she suggested I wash my hands and wrist with some warm water to help the veins show to allow for an easy insertion of the drip needle.

I still suffer from left-hand, right-hand confusion, if I were asked a direct question about veering in any direction to either the left or right, I would probably hesitate and might even get it wrong – I need to contemplate long before to get it right the first time.

So, I offered the nurse my hand and she inserted the needle in a vein at the back of my hand halfway up the metacarpals of the phalanges of the 2nd and 3rd finger, it was the lowest I had ever had an insertion, usually it is closer to the wrist just around the carpals, I was a bit surprised by that but said nothing.

It was when I was pouring my next cup of tea after the Caelyx solution had been attached to the infusion system that I realised I did not have as much dexterity with the free hand; it then dawned on me that I had offered my right hand rather than the left – then to imagine I made such a fuss about rearranging the furniture all for my right hand to get used instead.

Accelerated infusion

I noticed the infusion started at 14:15 hours and it usually last an hour, I read through a number of Economist articles and then reclined the seat for a nap, at 15:00 hours the infusion system started beeping, the Caelyx solution was fully infused in 45 minutes which is the minimum allowed time, as I learnt on the day of my 1st chemotherapy.

It was the first time I had been given the faster infusion rate, I felt fine after that and once the Caelyx solution had been completely drained through the system, something you note by visual observation because the solution is red whilst the saline solution is clear, the needle was removed and a prepared to return home.

The closing chats

On chatting to the nurse after securing my next few appointments, she said the usually average of chemotherapy sessions is 6, it sometimes goes up to 8 and they have had regimes of 14 dosages – FOURTEEN!!! One might tolerate it so well, but that many is as good as being on chemotherapy for 10 months – I just have 2 more sessions to go.

There are 7 seats in the out-patients ward, 4 had left, 2 had short sessions during the time I was there and the last two seat reclined in the seats were there before me, the one I recognise and the other recognised me from sessions before, I apologised allowing the talk about my left/right dichotomy to suffice for forgetfulness.

Getting back home was not that eventful, I returned, made a meal, wrote this blog and I might well catch a nap. I hope to be hearty and strong after this sixth session – the careful management of all bodily fluids including sweat in relation to possible guests is on for 6 days now, that period of cytostatic ostracism again.

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