So this is the last blog I'm going to write before going back into Bart's for Chemotherapy 2 on Monday. The schedule as like last time is pretty brutal. After a blood test to check I'm healthy enough for the drugs, I'll be fitted with a central line through my groin. This is a thick tube which will carry the Chemotherapy into my veins. It will stay in place throughout my three week residence. At some point on Monday evening the regime will start. Through an I/V drip controlled by pumps, poison will be given to me for the next 5 days. The last time out the process finished about 0800 Saturday morning.
I then get the weekend off, before a stem cell transplant on Monday morning. By this point in the game my immune system is completely compromised by the Chemotherapy. It's just a matter of time before I pick up an infection. It you want to visit me in Ward 5A, and please do because I love getting visits, maybe don't come if you have a cough or cold. A snivel to you could be a lot worse for me.
The second week is where things get grim. It takes 7 -10 days for the stem cells to grow and produce white and red blood cells and platelets. In this time you are at the mercy of whatever infection you get. I was too sick to even walk to the en suite toilet in my room and had to use a commode. Any food I could manage to eat, and that's not much as your appetite gets crushed, spends about two hours in the system before it being thrown up again. I was reduced to eating soup, yoghurt and clementines. As this is a very fragile state I'm now hooked up to a heart rate monitor which bleeps alarmingly. I eye it constantly to make sure none of the lines on the screen go flat.
By the third week things are finally starting to look up. The stem cells have finally kicked in and my body gets going on fighting the infection. The sickness and diarrhoea are also starting to subside. I may manage to keep a meal down. Last time I lost 5kg in the length of my stay. I am seriously tired by this stage as a decent night's sleep has been impossible since admission. I'm now craving my own bed and the stillness and quiet of my house. On the ward observations start at 0600 and finish at 2200. That's a long day. If things go to plan I'll be discharged on day 21. This is only if my haemoglobin and platelet counts are high enough.
All that doesn't sound much fun does it? Well it isn't. It's bloody horrible. I'm trying not to think about it too much in these precious days between treatment. At the moment I feel well and healthy, and I know that is all going to be taken away. Then the fear takes hold. Fear things will go wrong again (It took 4.5 hours to fit the central line last time, as the doctors kept trying to insert it in my neck to no avail). Fear that the sickness will be unmanageable. Fear that I'll go mad looking at ceiling tiles at 0300 in the damn morning. Fear of death. Though the main fear is that the chemotherapy won't kill all the cancer cells and I'll have to go through it all again in another three weeks (I'm only scheduled for two chemo sessions).
So that's where we are this Friday. I've filled my upcoming weekend with as many friends, fun trips and laughter as I can think of. Hopefully they'll help to keep the fear away. If only for a short while.
PS. Production Note: I'll try the best I can to keep posting to this blog when I'm in hospital, but health levels may mean the service is a bit erratic.