Monday 8 February 2010

Almost in vain for a vein

Making it to the hospital

I made it to hospital with just 5 minutes to spare, I had checked the public transport route guide to determine how best to get to the hospital in the East of Amsterdam from Saint Barbara Cemetery in the West – interestingly my ideas were quite different from their suggestions which appeared to be better.

As I entered the chemotherapy ward the nurses wondered why I was dressed up to the nines with bowler hat and all. I told them I had just returned from a friend’s funeral, they commiserated and I volunteered that they might even know Dick.

One of the nurses who I did not think I had met before had in fact attended me when I had my very first chemotherapy in my hospital bed on the 5th of October 2009, she said I look so greatly improved and well compared to then – well, you can say that again nurse – I am thankful and grateful to God, my doctors, the nurses, my friends and well-wishers to the way things are today.

More about Dick

They did and they were quite shocked at his death, the main consultant also was shocked and surprised, none could clearly say that his death was impending anyway and one nurse said they still had the newspaper article on Dick which was published on the day he defended his thesis.

For all his affable and amazing life we should not forget that Dick was an intellectual, an academic and was at one time the Chief Librarian of the Netherlands Institute of War Documentation, he was well published and respected in that field, the nurses wondered if I was a historian, well I am not – Dick met with people from all walks of life.

Cold and hiding veins

I settled in one of the reclining seat and made ready to get my chemotherapy infusion but they could not get a vein however hard they tried, in my left hand I had the first prick and the access was not good enough so it had to be taken out.

The nurse suggested I wash my hands in warm water for a while to help the veins show up, I knew it was dreadfully cold outside but I did not know it was 6 under zero – that is cold, I sometime wear another pair leather gloves over my normal gloves.

The nurse made another attempt on my left hand and still was unable to get a useful vein, the cold makes veins contract and even though my hands had been warmed up there the vein appeared but could not take the full length of the needle so she removed it and asked the other nurse to try it out.

Another hand another try

A few minutes later, I offered my right hand, one good vein was moving around and there was a lot of tapping before a vein near the thumb phalanges was found, after insertion, she was not sure it was right, I then injected with saline solution to check if it was through, it appeared to work.

She said the glucose solution that goes in with the chemotherapy treatment would have been painful if she tried to determine whether she was through to a vein. However, she was only fully satisfied after she connected the glucose solution and lowered the bad to see if gravity would make some blood flow out.

The chemotherapy Caelyx solution was then connected and set for an hour of infusion but with that feeling of being unsure she said I should try not to move my hand just in case the flow was disturbed – I reclined my seat and fell asleep through the period of the infusion.

When the infusion kit was removed, I asked if I could still submit blood for tests in readiness for the meeting with my consultant in 9 days, I could not do those tests on Friday because they were a special set of tests. I was informed the blood could have been taken through the infusion system, well, now I know.

Four pricks in a day

I left the chemotherapy ward for the blood clinic where I warned that precautions be taken because I had just receive chemotherapy, the bloods were taken in 4 vials and that was it. A whole 4 needle pricks in one afternoon, sometimes I feel I am going to be irrationally truculent a scared of the needles and then try to think nicely about it to help things happen – I surprise myself.

I tried to see the priest but he was out today and I made my way home.

That was the end of my 7th chemotherapy session, I now only have one left. Thank God.

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