Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Wednesday 22nd; April 2015...Chemo: Round 3; first of 3

Monday was a day of many small things going wrong from the outset that, by the end of the day, had both Brendan and I full up to the eyeballs of all things cancer related and unfortunately it was the 4th cannula (which took two attempts) that tipped my usually mild mannered husband over the edge. And as the curtain was pulled and the nurse walked out, our faulty towers type of a day took its toll and my husband exploded with a brief outburst of anger and a few expletives. His Doctor (doctor Bahdri's registrar) was unlucky enough to step back into the room just as it happened and I could see the toes of her shoes waiting patiently at the curtains for the moment to pass, before she opened it and walked in to see how he was going!

We apologised profusely and she was kind enough to say there was no reason to apologise. And there wasn't.  I'm sure it wasn't the first outburst she has experienced nor would it be the last...not in her business.

It all started at 7am when we got to the blood retrieval department for requested blood tests to find that the request hadn't been filed, this just meant a quick trip to the other side of the building to get a request sent over from Day Therapy were the infusion would start. When I asked at the reception if they could organise the request they said that would be fine, only Brendan wasn't booked into Day Therapy. Shit!

I asked the receptionist if he could contact Keith; the Day Therapy nursing practitioner to organise the blood request and to book us in for the infusion as Brendan was definitely having Chemo today, and we would go downstairs and get the CT scan done while Day Therapy was sorted out.

CT complete, we confirmed that Day therapy was sorted and head back to have bloods done...2 needle sticks down! After bloods there was a consult with Keith to explain the chemo. Like all chemotherapy drugs this one is very serious too. It is infused over four hours. Twenty four hours promptly after the infusion it has to be rescued. This means that another medication and lots of fluids have to be given over the next 2 to 3 days to stop the chemo drug as it is not ideal if it continues to work after the 24 hour period.

The good news with this drug is that the side effects seem to be far less severe; the bad news is if it is not rescued correctly it will affect the bone marrow in a negative away. The other good news is that it is very effective for the cancer Brendan has.

So education complete and there was a brief wait before being called in to start the chemo infusion. Another two needle sticks done to get the chemo cannula set. Chemo was just about to start when the brakes were put on because of high potassium levels when the blood report comes through. New bloods have to be taken. 5th needle stick! The rest of the infusion goes ahead without a hitch when blood work comes back clear. Chemo starts about 3 hours late but that's Ok as by the end of the day the poor nurses were still trying desperately to get him into his bed upstairs. There was no option but to get him admitted as the infusion was underway so he couldn't be sent home. This is so stressful, no more for us than the nurses working with us.

It's all hurry up and wait again today...

Finally his bed is ready and by about 5:30pm he is settled into a beautiful room upstairs, fortunately the girls downstairs had ordered his meal in advance; so we both settle in to watch the biggest storm Sydney had seen in 10 years crack the grey sky open outside; through the floor to ceiling window.

It's now 6:30 pm and Brendan's meal hadn't arrived, we rang the kitchen and they had closed. His meal order had been lost in transition, so I grabbed my $3 grocery store rain poncho...yes it was very attractive, and went outside to brave the 5 or more blocks to Dominoes on King St to get a Pizza for dinner. To say it was a wild night is an understatement, the wind was almost blowing me over, and the rain was sheeting across the street at a sideways angle. It was freezing.

By the time I got back to Brendan's room I was drenched, but only from the knees down (who knew a $3 rain poncho would work so well) the pizza box was soggy, the pizza was luke warm and a small pool of water had pooled in the indention in the lid where it had started to cave in. We had just started eating and the pump alarm went off, Bren's infusion had stopped flowing because his cannula had become blocked... Bugger!

This meant a new cannula... again. Brendan's poor veins had had enough, the pain he felt when they tried to flush the existing cannula in the hope that it wouldn't need replacing, was intense and it took another two attempts to get the next one in, I think he ended up with a needle stick count of about seven for the day.  I know it felt like more and may have been.

After the nurses and doctor had left, we finished off the now cold and soggy pizza and put it down to one of those days...tomorrow will be better we said!
The canulla had to be changed again at around midnight for the same reasons as earlier...and that was our day that felt like an annus horribilis. QE2 I get it!

All but the weather, the next day onward did get better. Thankfully as I write this everything is still going pretty smoothly, but I have just had a FB message from Bren to say the bloody canulla has just been changed again, and yes its after midnight and I should be in bed as I am hoping to take him home tomorrow.

The last couple of days in particular have really made me think about all the other people out there having their own bad days, many worse than the one I've written about here today, and as I rode the glass elevator up and down the eight floors from Brendan's ward to ground over the last couple of days, I was given little glimpses at each floor, and on each I could see too many people going through similar days to ours in different ways, and I wish I could make it better for all of them. But I can’t.

I have to believe that every experience comes to us as a lesson; sometimes for those going through the situation and sometimes also for those around them. It's the only way I can make any sense out of any of it. So Dear God, the universe or whoever is guiding this runaway train; if the lesson here is mine... please, please don't let me be a slow learner.

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