Chemotherapy: Day Three

Sorry that I didn’t update yesterday – between cupcake making in the morning and a post-lunch chemo session in the afternoon, I was pretty wiped by the evening and just fancied a snuggle on the sofa with the dog.

Chemo day 3 happened and went off without a hitch, and took about five hours. It was exactly the same as chemo day 2;  two bags of Etoposide, two bags of Cyclizine (which makes me high as baaaalllsss), and some saline solution. I arrived armed with unicorn cupcakes for the amazing chemo suite nurses, a bag full of snacks (which I inevitably didn’t touch) and my ever-vigilant mother.

So, there are three things I want to talk about in today’s post.

First, how brilliant a PICC line actually is. I witnessed multiple people throughout the afternoon struggling to have cannulas inserted because their veins had been so damaged by repeated procedures, and it didn’t look terribly comfortable. I’m so glad that I opted for a PICC line.

Yes, the procedure to have it put in was a bit daunting when I first heard about it (though in reality was totally painless and over incredibly quickly) but the benefits of it far outweigh the fear I felt. No more needles during most of my chemotherapy, clean and easy access to my blood, and no damaged veins. If you have the chance to get a PICC line for your treatment, do it. Or, as my Dad so glibly put it, “Pick a PICC”. You’ll thank yourself later.

!!! Warning: kinda graphic video incoming. Scroll on past it if you’re squeamish !!! 

Secondly, I want to chat about Andreea (name changed for privacy). Even after a measly three days at the chemo suite, I’m already getting to know some of the ‘regulars’ coming in for treatment. Andreea stands out because, as well as fighting cancer, she has to battle a language barrier.

Now, let me make one thing clear; chemotherapy is really fucking confusing even when you speak the same language as your hospital team. I cannot even begin to imagine what Andreea must be experiencing trying to navigate treatment via a language she barely speaks conversationally, let alone to the level of medical jargon.

For the last two days I have watched her and the amazing RUH staff try various versions of charades, pictionary and less-than-successful attempts at using Google translate in an effort to have vitally important conversations that can literally impact her survival. It’s obviously frustrating for both parties, but I’ve been so impressed by the tenacity shown. I’ve also been kept awake at night thinking about how scared I’d feel in Andreea’s position.

Today I discovered a free voice-to-text translator which might help though. I’ve tested it out and it seems pretty nifty, so next time I’m in the chemo suite I’m going to mention it to the nurses, and I’ll give it a go with Andreea when we have our usual ‘chat’ (which is basically us both pointing at bits of our bodies that hurt and then laughing).

Thirdly, and finally, I wanted to tell you about Emma (name not changed because this woman totally deserves all the love in the world). Emma was the first nurse assigned to me on day one of chemotherapy, and she has been by my side since. She deserves her own post really, because she is so wonderfully warm, supportive, funny and professional, but for now please enjoy this awesome picture my Mum snapped of us as we were laughing maniacally about something or other.

Emma, if you do ever read this, thank you for being such a calming influence and a great guide through my chemotherapy so far. You’ve made this a far less terrifying experience than it might otherwise have been.

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That’s all for now folks! Keep your collective chins up and feel free to drop me a message.

3 thoughts on “Chemotherapy: Day Three

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  1. I had a Hickman line. Goes into the chest rather than the arm. Made things so much easier.
    I still remember my specialist nurse, Abi, with affection, and it is 21 years ago.

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  2. This is lovely, Andrea will appreciate your efforts I’m sure. I was never offered a PICC back in Leeds in 2006, just the fortnightly find a vein nursing challenge. This was followed by burning pain tempered only with a wheat bag and humour from the nurses. Those nurses, I loved them all. You know they brought a trolley full of spirits round for us at Christmas? Chemo being chemo most other Lymphoma folks weren’t takers as they had nausea, more port and lemonade for me and my friend Jane. It sounds like you are smashing this and I’m really pleased for you. I’m proof Hodgkin’s can be an easy ride. I’m following your journey with interest.

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  3. You can totally do this. Chemo is tough but doable. As a survivor my only advise to others going through this is to be sure to make room for ALL of your feelings. It is okay to be angry or sad. Have your rage or crying session and then move on. Expressing these emotions is healthy and cleansing. You will be in my thoughts and I send you all my good vibes.

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