So nearly another week has passed already since I posted! You know what they say, time flies when you’re back in hospital (not), more on that later…
Last Tuesday I went in to see the consultant and he gave me the low down on the new plan of attack. It’s going to be pretty brutal and will involve stretches of at least 10 days as an inpatient where they deliver the chemo over 3 or 4 days, followed by days of monitoring. It’s an entirely different type of chemo from the round I have already had; it’s actually going to be 2 different types that will be alternated. They have decided that because it’s such an aggressively growing cancer, and because it has already started to spread slightly outside of the lymphatic system, it needs more than the standard treatment. It’s going to be 3 times as strong as the round I have already had and so I am very much not looking forward to that! 😖 They obviously think I can handle it though, otherwise they wouldn’t be trying it! 💪
One of the side effects of chemotherapy is that it can slow, or stop altogether, your bone marrow from creating new white blood cells. In my case, this happened. One of the types of white blood cell is called a neutrophil. They are the first line of defence against infection; they flood the site of infection and destroy bacteria. A normal count is between 3 and 7, and I was told that my count was 0.19, which obviously put me at very high risk of catching an infection or virus.
Wednesday last week was one of my busiest days in a while! I had an echocardiogram (heart ultrasound) in the morning, then had to go somewhere else to collect injections that I’d have to give myself to try and bring my neutrophil count up, an appointment at yet another place in the afternoon to see the reproductive specialist and then back to the first location to collect a new mouthwash! 😂 The heart ultrasound is standard practice for patients on chemo; they take an ultrasound at the start of treatment and then repeat them periodically to check that no damage is occurring from any of the drugs. The reproductive team have also prescribed me an injection (yay more 😑) that will put me in a medical menopause to reduce the damage to my ovaries. Normally they would have put me through 1 round of IVF and harvested eggs but my first round of chemotherapy couldn’t wait so this is the only option we have now. No periods for a while though, so that’s a bonus!
Thursday was more eventful than I would have liked. I went into my cancer unit for a lumbar puncture, which all went down without a hitch, and wasn’t actually as bad as I had imagined it was going to be, but never left the hospital after that. My temperature spiked and they took blood and my neutrophil count had dropped to 0, so they decided to admit me back onto the ward just to be safe and put me back on the antibiotic drip.
Friday was the surgery under local anaesthetic to fit my central line. This means that I don’t have to keep being poked over and over again to get blood or administer drugs which is great! The process of having it placed was pretty intense and unenjoyable though. I couldn’t see what was happening, they covered my eyes, and it was numbed with a LOT of anaesthetic so there was no pain, but there was a lot of pressure and pushing, and the odd feeling of things being moved inside your body. It didn’t help that I was hooked up to a monitor and so I could hear the beeping of my erratic heartbeat echoing around the theatre. An hour later it was done! An x-ray to check the placement and I was back on the ward.
Sunday they finally let me out again after being 100% that there wasn’t any infection and my neut count had started to climb again. The positives of being in hospital? Not having to inject myself. The negatives? Constantly being woken up. They say that a good night’s sleep is the best thing for you when you are unwell, and then they never let you get any decent sleep because they wake you up every few hours to do observations, or take blood, or hook you up to another drip! At least I’m getting to know the staff on the ward a bit better! I had already decided that as soon as I was home from hospital my hair had to come off. By that point, I could run my hands through it and come away with huge clumps, and I couldn’t just leave it and end up looking like Cynthia from the rugrats! 🤣
So I buzzed it short with clippers and then we shaved it with a razor! It’s the strangest feeling! I keep being told I have such a lovely shaped head! What an odd compliment – but a nice one!
This morning I went to collect my wig from the wig people. They had been so good and had ordered in lots of styles that they didn’t have in stock on our previous visit, and as soon as I put the right one on I just knew ‘this is the one’. This is the wig that I get free on the good old NHS (it would have been £180 if I’d had to pay!!). I’m still holding out for that dusty lavender babe from Webster Wigs though…
So in 24 hours, I’ve gone from hair, to no hair, to having removable hair!🤣