I went into this round of chemo a little cocky, the last one was a breeze and I had a clear idea of what my symptoms were; even if the severity was mixed most of the symptoms remained relatively consistent.
For some reason this time they went straight back into the large vein on the side of my right hand. The good news was that it only took one attempt to cannulise. I was thrilled when treatment started as my Oncology Nurse came to visit, and we had such a nice catch up and chatted about how things were going. She has been of immense support, always responding to my queries on email/ phone and just making me realise that what I was going through was/ is bloody tough – so I’m allowed to struggle.
When my Oncology Nurse had left, I noticed my arm started to hurt and realised I hadn’t had much of that symptom since the first session. So, as you do, I sat watching videos of naughty dogs on YouTube but the aching got worse and worse, half an hour later I was in excruciating pain.
I’m not sure if this is a British thing, but I hate being an inconvenience. I couldn’t find the alarm bell button and saw the nurses were busy, so I sat there, sobbing, it honestly felt like my arm was breaking. The thing is with the Covid masks, no one is interacting with you really because your face is covered, the lack of eye contact means you kind of just get bypassed unless you can find the button. I genuinely was in pain, but I was mortified about interrupting the nurses – honestly they work so hard and the churn of chemo patients was immense They also had the added pressure of having to wipe down/ disinfect every chemo station down once a patient had left due to stupid Covid.
A nurse checked on me 15 mins from the end of the treatment and I was inconsolable, they gave me some paracetamol (which I found mortifying) as I took stronger meds before I even went in. Paracetamol was not going to touch this pain. The nurses realised this wasn’t a good enough fix and ran over to my Oncology Nurse who gave them permission to administer me some Oramorph.
When the session was over, my Mum as always was waiting outside the ward and I collapsed in her arms just sobbing. I was done, I couldn’t do this anymore, I had reached my limit.
The shock of that session sent me in to a kind of depression; I was really tearful (annoying as it hurts to cry due to stupid chemo). I spent the next few days pretty much in my pyjamas, taking Orapmorph at night for the pain in my arm. I just wanted to hide away from the world.
A few days after this cycle, I managed to test out the thimbles I bought to help with the neuropathy in my hands. I stuffed them into my gloves and it worked wonders, a ray of hope – I could cook and clean and get my independence back! With the thimbles in place, actually I found the aftereffects of chemo more manageable, the diarrhoea, insane fatigue, and hot flushes you can cope with in some respects. However, although this was a major positive milestone, I was frightened; I did not want any more chemo.
I was told once I got to half way through my treatment, they would start looking at the dosage of Oxalyplatin, as it supposedly becomes the lesser of the two treatments in the second half.
However, there is always that voice in the back of your head that says “I don’t want to do this ever again” in terms of getting cancer and in terms of going through chemo. I don’t want to go back, so do I suffer more in the short term to kill the fucker or beg for a weaker dosage to get me through and risk the cancer returning?
I managed to up the amount of counselling with Maggies in the following weeks, I needed to bolster myself up to get me through that door. Luckily, I had the distraction of Christmas, I was wrapping presents (interesting with gloves) and getting them delivered. I had also been on a few short socially distanced dog walks with a friend at the weekend, nothing makes me smile like the sheer insanity of a dog – so much joy.