Hoping for third time lucky….

July 6, 2010

It would be a mistake to say I was looking forward to going for chemo yesterday. In fact, I slept really badly the night before because I was dreading it so much. Let’s face it, it is more than a little perverse getting up on a Monday morning and heading off for a chemical cocktail that you know is going to make you feel rotten for the rest of the week…. I just kept trying to remind myself that 1. I choose to do this and no-one is forcing it on me (although the alternative isn’t really much of an alternative and 2. I am lucky to have access to this treatment – most people in the countries I work in would not have access to the diagnosis, let alone the treatment, and even in other so-called developed countries people face financial ruin paying for this kind of treatment.

But I’m no saint, and I have my moments of self-pity, but at least I was looking forward to the treatment delivery being a bit smoother than last time due to my newly installed catheter.


After taking my pre-treatment handful of anti-nausea drugs and waiting 45 mins for them to take effect, the nurse comes to start the treatment. So I whip out my catheter, and he starts by trying to inject some saline solution into it. Nothing. No movement either in or out, the thing is blocked. He tries a few tricks he has up his sleeve. Still nothing. So then they have to go and call the anaesthetists to ask for help (for some reason that only a Doctor will know, it is anaesthetists who are responsible for installing these catheters). I then have to wait an hour or more, because the anaesthetist on duty is installing some other poor soul’s catheter. Eventually the head-honcho anaesthetist arrives and he also tries to pump saline solution into it – somewhat more aggressively than the nurse – which causes me pain up beside my collarbone. This confuses him a bit, but then he asks me to shrug my shoulders up to my ears – bingo, we have a flow! It turns out I have a rather unusual complication – my catheter has got squashed between my collar bone and my top rib (I didn’t realise my ribs went all the way up there???) which is blocking it. The good news was that by shrugging my shoulder they could use it to give me my chemo yesterday (though it isn’t very comfortable sitting with your shoulder shrugged up for a couple of hours). The bad news is that they are going to have to replace it – there is a chance that the friction can wear a whole in the tube, with the risk that the chemo seeps out into my body, and that is definitely not a risk I’m prepared to play with. So now I have to go in and have this catheter removed and a new one installed, which really doesn’t thrill me.

So in the end I was “only” there for 4.5 hours yesterday. A one hour improvement on last time – I don’t seem to be very good at this chemo thing! I also felt much worse afterwards yesterday than last time – a bit nauseous and generally very yucky. I’m not sure if this is because the chemo went in much faster. But feeling a bit better again today, which matches the pattern last time.


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