First chemo

Last week I decided I’d update this blog on Thursdays, no matter what, unless I was physically unable to do it. It’s Thursday again, so this is my little self-imposed deadline. Today, I really don’t feel like it. I really don’t feel like anything. I feel too blergh for anything. But here goes: On Monday Steve and I entered the chemo room at Westmead hospital and were shown to the big blue recliner (me) and the ordinary office chair (for Steve). There was rigmarole. There was more paperwork. There were other poor sods in there getting their treatments, some looking perfectly healthy, as if they’d walked in off the street; others had that more challenged, settled-in look of the long-term ill. There were three tries to get my cannula in. I’m becoming cannula-phobic. Some nurses and doctors are good at this and some aren’t. My veins have always been hard to find – sunken, dehydrated from too much coffee. I’m turning that around, now, with big bottles of water on the go and no more coffee (tea is now my only remaining vice). Next time my goal is to have big fat veins to offer. For four and a half hours, I sat with the drip going in. There was a nice clear bag and then a big black one that you couldn’t see into. It was the big bad brother. It was the limo with the smoked glass. What the hell is in there? It’s easy to say “poison” but I’ll exert myself a little more this time, be more specific. Okay, I’ve just looked it up in my green folder. One bag contains Carboplatin and the other Paclitaxel. We’ll repeat this two more times, on the 10th of March and the 31st of March. The goal is to shrink the tumours so they are manageable for surgery. Then I’ll go in for surgery, rinse and repeat.

On Tuesday, we drove back to Bathurst. I was feeling perky due to the steroids they’d fed me the day before. We ate steak and chips at a pub in Blackheath and nipped down to look out over the cliffs and the long, thin waterfall where there was a rainbow in the spray.

All of these are just words. My main problem is the big C. As in, Constipation. This is where the real misery lies. I’ve had a lot of other interesting thoughts over the past week but they’re all just wisps out there on another plane. For now it’s really just about my guts, my poor guts, struggling to work around the tumours at either end of my gastrointestinal tract.

Still, even on a blergh day like this, there are still small joys. Bertie the black Labrador is my constant companion. He’s having treatments, too: he has a split pad on his right hind paw, so his leg is in a bandage and plastic bag contraption. His plastic bag slaps around the house. He settles in next to me and soon you can hear his gentle breathing, snoring, snuffling. Yesterday’s steady rain was gorgeous and today is bright and clean. I sat at the plastic table in the back yard under a thick canopy of summer leaves and ate Salada biscuits with a scraping of Vegemite.

9 thoughts on “First chemo

  1. Barry Healy

    Goodness, Carboplatin and Paclitaxel sound like the names of fairies at the bottom of the garden!

  2. Margaret Jakovac

    Howdy, the long slog has begun and hopefully you’re steering yourself back to full health. Just about the constipation … dunno if this would help, but with my wide reading on the big C, I’ve taken up a morn regime which has regulated me, so to speak. Seeds. I eat lots of them. The supposed cancer-fighting mix is 5tblspn flaxseeds, 3 tblspn pumpkin seeds and one tsp sunflower seeds, freshly grounded (or is that grinded hmmm dunno), then add about a heaped tablespoon or two of cottage cheese to it and a little water to thin the paste. I usually put a bit of honey on it otherwise tastes yukko. Great dose of goodness I’ve found. Can only offer it, no obligation to take it up. All the best. hugs

  3. Steve Painter

    I’ve had a lot of experience with the big C since my bowel operation. My solution: one probiotic capsule with breakfast (the Faulding one, not the dairy brand, which needs refrigeration and is a lot more expensive); a teaspoon or two of metamucil with a bowl of bircher muesli for breakfast. I no longer eat rice as it doesn’t move easily. Dried prunes if nothing else is working.

  4. John Merkel

    Glad to see you’ve still got your sense of humour – and poetry – as aaargh! turns to blergh. I hope prince steps out and sings for you next time you see that black limo. Give Bertie a pat for me, and one for yourself. x

  5. Barry Healy

    On the “big C” issue: some time ago I heard a piece on ABC Radio National (possibly the Health Report) about the beneficial effects for chemo patients of eating yoghurt containing lactobacillus GG. My ears pricked up because my family eats Vaalia, which is the only yoghurt containing that bacillus.

    The research showed that eating it helped people going through chemo to recover the beneficial flora in their intestines and so recover from the effects of chemo more quickly. It was a rave review.

    I’ve trawled the internet this morning looking for either that RN program or the original research (which, from memory, was conducted in Melbourne), all to no avail.

    So, depending on the vagaries of my memory, Vaalia may or may not be a help for you.


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