Monthly Archives: April 2016

Chemo 2 and Wigs!

Today was a funny old day – I had both Chemo number 2 booked and a wig appointment.

My hair has gradually been falling out more and more, and now comes out in huge handfuls when I touch it, as well as leaving huge nests of hair when sit on the sofa. I’m like a moulting dog! So I decide its time and make an appointment at the wig shop. I enlist the help of my Best Friend Emma for honest opinions and moral support.

The appointment is at 10 before Chemo so off I go. I have my now customary cry in the car on the way. I swear I’ve cried more in that bloody van than anywhere else. Cant imagine what other drivers think – Strange woman, all snotty and teary driving a huge black transit!

The young girl in the wig shop was lovely – OMG young girl… you know what that means don’t you, when I start referring to people as young it means im getting old!! eeeek

Anyway she explained the difference between the sorts of wigs and the wig caps and all that palava – basically NHS = nice but standard, Private = better quality, bit pricey, lighter to wear, Real hair = sell your children price but well as it sounds real hair. I ask to look at both NHS and Private, would love a real hair one but I think selling the kids is frowned upon and I couldnt deal with the Ebay fees and postage issues

She brings out several styles, some I am pleasantly surprised at, some we say no to before she has even put it on, some are nice enough but would possibly suit Gladys at the bingo a bit more. We manage to avoid any Donald Trump style nightmares tho

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Eventually we narrow it down to two. A long red soft curls one, and a shorter brown one with blond highlights. Some lovely friends gifted me some money, so I used that to buy one of them and got the other on the NHS. I’m still not sure how I will feel wearing them as they feel very plain, but the lovely toddler sales assistant explains how I can pin the long one up and put in victory rolls etc and I feel a little better. She bags them up and off we go..

No rest for the diseased and it’s already time for Chemo number 2

I have a new friend to accompany me today – Emma had a little mascot made in my expected baldy likeness – a cute little Mrs Potato Head!

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So off me and MPH go to book in with our little purple slip of doom. I’m shown to my seat and hands popped in water like last time. I can do this I think easy…

Over comes the nurse with the needle and pops it in my hand and oh wait nope the needle wont go in… oh she says I think we have hit a valve, let’s try somewhere else. So she recannulates a bit further up.. but no that vein has blown… she starts poking and feeling, pointing out where some have hardened due to the chemo so aren’t usable. She runs my hand under hot water and tries again.. nope this time it goes straight thru the vein. She calls over another nurse to help. She pokes and prods and then tries.. again the vein blows. She tries another, with that smile on her face that you just know in her head she is reciting swear words. Oooh she thinks she has it in.. quick plaster goes on and drip attached… and then we all look expectantly at the drip bag.. which is doing… NOTHING, bugger all, zip, nada… balls. She looks back at the needle and adjusts it slightly.. and the vein blows. So now I have 5 holes, but still no cannula.

She calls for a specialist nurse this time, and my arm is run under the hot tap again.. I may not be cannulated but its bloody clean and warm! The specialist nurse tries a bit further up.. but nope hits a valve and the needle warps, ok so number 7 attempt… nope vein blown .. too dangerous to give the Chemo thru it due to risk of tissue damage.

Hmm says specialist nurse – whats your thoughts on a Picc line? A Picc line is basically a permanent line which lives in the upper arm, that they can attach the chemo syringes etc too. Go for it I say, at this point wondering if its safe to drink my tea or If it will start spurting out numerous holes like a fountain?

The specialist nurse comes back with a portable ultrasound gadget – apparently this will help locate the vein needed. So she gels my bingo wings up and sets about scanning.. and scanning.. and hmming .. and oh bloody hell where is it… and hmm ing again…. Apparently it’s not there, which makes no sense cos it must be there, but its not. By now there are 2 specialist nurses, 3 oncology nurses, an ultrasound machine and a partridge in a pear tree… all looking for this illusive vein. I am of course looking at the screen and nodding.. as If I know what we are even looking for.. a picture of the virgin mary could come up on it and I wouldn’t be surprised!

WOOO specialist nurse whoops, we all jump, I spill my tea .. (but keep hold of my chocolate muffin so it’s not all bad) I assume this to mean she has found it,  and then she goes oh wait no don’t worry.. She shows me a black circle on the screen… and then points out its fuzzy edges. She explains this means that the vein is already degrading and a Picc line isn’t an option. The only solution is a Hickman Line

Shit! I knew this was coming but still. They bring over a body form and show me what this means – a line will be inserted directly into my heart and the tubes left dangling out of my chest, ready for the chemo to be put in.  They explain how it will be better in the long run, will speed chemo up, bloods can be done by district nurse when she comes to flush it. It’s a lot to take in but we are only on chemo 2 of at least 6, and needs must. The doctor comes and asks if I have any questions and gets me to sign the consent forms and they book it for the day before my next chemo.

So now there are 2 specialist nurses, 3 oncology nurses and a doctor… and still no bloody cannula in my arm for todays treatment. Which apparently being as the following week is easter week and already 4 days instead of 5 they really want to get done today. So the nurse who hasn’t yet had a stab (pun intended!) has a go.. attempt 8 – straight thru the vein – no go, attempt 9 – crumpled needle no go…. wait attempt 10.. it’s in, the drip is – well dripping, so they decide to stick the chemo in and hope for the best!

luckily the vein holds, so the meds go in, prickly hedgehog – check, metallic taste – check , wired heart racing – check.. and I’m sent home with my bag of meds, an appointment for bloods, chemo, Hickman line and an arm full of bruises!

 

 

Cycle 1 – Side effects

So I came home from my first chemo feeling ok – I was a bit flushed and my heart was racing a bit but it was ok….

Fool am I to think that was going to last! Less than 3 hours later I was being sick. Very sick. I couldn’t eat, even water was coming up – this was even after the 2 lots of anti sickness I was given.

I also felt like I was hit by a bus – I snuggled up under the blanket with the dogs and the kids and slept. unfortunately the rest was punctuated by sickness until the early hours. Bless him at around 1 am carl went to the 24 hr tesco in search of something I could eat after googling “foods good for people on chemo”. He returned pleased with his bounty of soda water, salted crackers and ginger biscuits.

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The sickness lasted for 3 or 4 days and a local friend in the York support group told me to ring the hospital. Apparently the oncology unit would help, I rung them and they saw me straight away and gave me a different mix of medication. She said that I shouldnt have to be sick and that they will do all they can to help. They are really nice and make you feel like nothing is too much trouble.

The new tablets helped loads and within a day I had stopped feeling sick and life went back to normal.

Mid cycle one a new side effect hit – oh man I was so tired! I don’t think I have ever felt so tired.. not even back when I could work all day and go our drinking till 4am! I was like an extra from the walking dead – looked pretty similar too! There were two days when I 4couldn’t do anything but sleep. A couple of times I thought, I’ll get up now but nope within seconds I was asleep again.

Around two weeks in I was hit by the most amazing side effects – If I had had difficult labours I would imagine that this is what it would feel like. Crippling cramps that had me doubled over like someone had sucker punched me. Luckily these only lasted a couple of days.

The final side effect knocked me for six. My hair had already started to fall out. When I brushed it, or touched it I would get a few strands each time. I wasnt ready for that. It was only about day 14! WTF I had thought I would have at least 3 cycles before this would happen?

All in all ive survived the cycle. Cycle 2 brings new challenges and a wig fitting appointment. Welcome to my new normal!