Well, this chemo malarkey is turning out to be something of a full-time job, although admittedly much of the ‘work’ involves sleeping. One is fore-warned about the chemical-induced fatigue but nothing can quite prepare you for it. I find I have no choice but to listen to my body and sleep when it tells me I must.
Anyway, let me take you backstage and give you the guided tour: first thing in the morning, I have to take my temperature. Half a degree over the norm and – day or night – it is straight off the hospital, as a raised temperature could be the first sign of an infection which can be very dangerous for a chemo patient. Luckily I have escaped this thus far.
If nausea allows, I will have some breakfast, then I’ll open the drug store: for the first few days after a chemo dose, one takes daily steroids and anti-sickness tablets. An hour later, if you still feel nauseous (a word which I can’t help but say with a Woody Allen accent), there is a second choice of drug to try.
Evening entertainment is provided by an injection to help boost one’s bone marrow and blood, thus reducing the chance of infection. I have not had the courage to inject myself, so my husband does the honours.
In between the pharmaceuticals, one has instructions to drink at least two litres of water per day to help flush the chemicals through one’s system. Plus one must use a mouth wash at least four times a day, to hopefully prevent the mouth ulcers that are another common side effect of chemo. Oh, and eat lots of pineapple! Apparently the enzymes in it can help counteract some of the side effects. Fortunately, I love fresh pineapple so I’m happy to play along with that.
On the Eighth Day after the chemo cocktail hour, one’s immune system is at its lowest and most vulnerable, so one starts a course of prophylactic antibiotics to help ward off any infections.
Unsurprisingly juggling the drug taking with the side-effects with more drugs to counteract the side-effects soon passes the time… not pleasantly, but it passes. One treatment out of six is now ticked off my ‘to do list.
As you can imagine, my world is currently rather small, consisting mainly of our little cottage, our lovely gardens and – when I have the energy to walk our border terrier Katy – the beautiful lanes surrounding us. Before long, I will be able to enjoy life as normal again, but for the moment my pleasures are as small as my world. Watching our potatoes grow is about as thrilling as I can manage!