Tuesday 17th May 2016

If you are facing chemotherapy, one of the things you may need to be aware of is the emotional impact. Every time you go for treatment there are a load of things that can be playing on your mind. Simply attending a hospital for treatment can be a stressful thing for many people. Hospitals can just be a place of doom and fear for many people whether they’re being treated for cancer or a cold.

There’s also the dread of getting updates on your condition. There’s always a fear of what you might get told, and whether or not there is any kind of news, you are about to be pumped full of chemicals with some potentially nasty, longer term side effects.

Today was my second round of chemo and was an abject lesson in getting on top of my emotions and taking control of my appointment days. My first lesson is that when you have enough people wanting to help you have to be the one that coordinates them. There was some confusion over who was driving me to and from my appointment but I quickly just made a decision and asked my dad to do it.

The other thing I learned is not to be a ‘rabbit caught in headlights’ when I go for my chemo. I have to be honest and say that I am in a state of dread when I turn up at the Beatson. I’m always waiting for worse news, such as hearing that my PSA has rocketed or that I am already showing resistance to the ADT drugs. As well as being on edge I am trying to take in everything that has been said to me and absorb it fully so if things aren’t spelled out I get a little…confused.

Problems started when my doctor spotted that my chemo appeared to be scheduled for next day, rather than that same day as was expected. In order to find out what was going on she tried to call the Macmillan Day Care Unit, where I was to receive my chemo but there was no reply. After a couple of attempts I decided to take the pressure off of her and told her that I had another appointment about 11am and that I’d just come back and check at reception whether my chemo was today or not.

She gave me a slip to arrange my next appointment with her and told me that I’d need to get my usual batch of medication so I asked her if it was just the same as last time – just a case of heading down to the pharmacy and picking these up. She nodded and I then went on my way.

This is where it becomes too confusing and embarrassing to go into. All I will say is that it is a good idea to have the procedure for your day written down and 100% crystal clear.

I’ve learned that my procedure is this:

  • Visit my doctor in the morning. Don’t rush myself and take time to ask whatever questions I may have and to ensure that I have understood them rather than feeling that I am taking up too much of the doctor’s time.
  • When she is finished she will give me a slip to take to reception to make another appointment prior to my next round of chemo. When I’ve done this then wait to attend my current chemo appointment.
  • Go for chemo and if nurse asks if I have all appointments say yes, and if they ask if I have my next batch of medication say no.

As you will gather it didn’t go that way and the day was a bit of a comedy of errors.

The confusion developed when I returned from an appointment with Macmillan Cancer Care Benefits Team to find out if my chemo appointment was indeed for that day and I was disappointed to find out that it had been scheduled for 10am the following day.

Not having had chemo I opted to make my own way home by public transport rather than disturb anyone else to come and pick me up. It took me about 90 minutes to get home and I was barely in my front door when the phone rang. It was a call from a nurse at the chemo ward saying that my docataxel, etc. was ready and they were waiting for me. Exasperated, I explained what had happened and asked if it would be okay if I was back there in the next hour and she said that would be no problem.

I immediately called my dad who came down to pick me up and got me back there within 40 minutes. When they took me into the chemo ward there was one other person there. I chatted with him as they set me up and I even discussed my ‘research’ with the nurse who was attending to me and found that he was quite open to much of what I was saying.

I think my brain was spinning a bit from it all and when the nurse asked me if I had my appointments and drugs I suffered a sudden burst of short term amnesia and caused further confusion. I have to admit that my brain was totally fried. Alison had given me grief over the confusion about the appointments. As well as that I wasn’t fully used to a routine with this and on top of it all my state of mind was affecting my ability to think clearly.

The day was rounded off with an almighty argument between me and Alison over something so stupid I can’t even remember what it was now. When I told her to leave me alone as I had a rough day she challenged that assertion and I finished the argument with the words “You go for fucking chemo then!” before storming off to go and sleep on the couch.


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