Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Things that go 'Lump' in the night

I had a good old moan yesterday didn't I? Well here is an update; last night I ended up at the District Hospital with a lump the size of a Grapefruit underneath the scar where they had removed my lymph nodes. Combined a temperature of 102ºF despite taking Paracetamol to reduce it, and a fair bit of pain I really felt sorry for myself, and thought I had better speak to a Doctor. I gave the out of hours service a call, they wanted to see me, and confirmed my suspicions about the swelling that had been bothering me the past 4 weeks was what now making me feel like I had the Flu, and causing the swelling. He said he thought it was either an infected haematoma or an abscess, and I may need to spend a day or two back in hospital. He gave me some high dose antibiotics straight away and a prescription for more, and urged me to see my own Doctor first thing in the morning as I needed an urgent referral back to the Breast Surgeon.

I saw my own GP who faxed the required referral to the Hospital and suggested that I phone the Breast Care Nurses and 'make a nuisance of myself' so that I was seen today. I did as instructed, and was called back quite promptly telling me to get myself there as quickly as I could: a Registrar would see me when I got there. Thankfully the threat of admission was dispelled, and the Registrar using what looked like a syringe you might use on a horse, had a couple of attempts at draining the swelling. They said it is called a Seratoma, but I can't find a reference to this on the Internet. She said this would be sent off for analysis. She dressed the area, and I have to go back on Friday and Monday. They will review how well it is clearing up before they postpone my Radiotherapy treatment. The hope is that I will be well enough to start this on Tuesday next week as planned.

Thanks for the helpful and thoughtful comments yesterday, I think finding a project that requires research will be my best bet at the moment, being a bit of a one armed bandit!

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Not so Angelic ...

Could this be me sulking? You bet!

It's been a week since I last blogged, and I think its fair to say a few chickens have been coming home to roost. It's been difficult to maintain a positive attitude, as the pain under my arm persists and boredom sets in because of the enforced rest. Too much time and not enough to do, and I am not quite sure how to remedy it. It is a pretty destructive combination. I will admit to being weepy and feeling very low, I am not quite sure why, I suspect its just part the natural process in part as reality sinks in, and the rest maybe the Tamoxifen as it alters my hormone levels to prevent cancer cells reproducing. I saw the BCN again last Friday to check the swelling, she says in effect I need to be more realistic with myself, and that it's only 3 weeks since the surgery and I need at least 6 weeks to be anywhere near healing fully from the surgery. Ho Hum.

I was distracted soon enough though. When we got back home from the Hospital, I received a very confused call from Little Bird, she had bought a Ready-Meal from the Co-op; Chicken Tikka Masala, and was feeling unwell. My first thought was maybe food poisoning, but as she described her symptoms it became apparent it was an allergic reaction of some kind. She felt nauseous, her lips were swollen, and she said her asthma was getting worse. I told her to take an antihistamine, but she didn't have any. I then suggested she walk the short distance in to town and ask to speak to a Pharmacist in Boots, not realising just how ill and how quickly she was going to be. Thankfully the Pharmacist recognised her symptoms straight away; and called for an Ambulance. By the time she reached Boots she was struggling to breathe, the swelling on her face was very pronounced, and she was covered in a rash, that resembled large raised welts. By the time she got to hospital she was loosing consciousness, and was administered adrenalin, antihistamines and steroids. She had gone into Anaphylactic Shock. She was stabilised and came home a few hours later, I felt awful, I wasn't there for her, and initially she was all on her own. Her brother who is at the same Uni went to be with her as soon as he was able, and brought her back to her new home in a taxi, neither of them drive and it's a long walk home, especially after such a medical emergency. It wasn't until Monday that Little Bird realised what a close call she had had. Some of the drugs the hospital had sent her home with were making her feel really unwell and as if she was 'speeding'. She needed to see a GP anyway to arrange the skin tests the hospital had told her to get organised to determine exactly what she was severely allergic too; peanuts and cashews are the rogues suspected. Her part time job in Covent Garden had been giving her a pretty hard time about not working on Sunday too, she was effectively bullied into going in. She worked until lunchtime and then asked to go home, as she felt so rough. They continued to pressurise her to stay, completely dismissing what a serious thing had happened to her only 36 hours earlier. She told the GP about this and asked if it was possible to have a sick note for work so they had an official explanation of why she was ill. He was horrified and wrote a terrific letter for her, stating she had suffered a life threatening allergic reaction, and had been seriously ill, and that the drugs she was currently on are entirely likely to make her unfit for work. He has also prescribed her with an Epipen which she must carry with her at all times. He told her that next time this happens, its likely to be much more severe reaction, and she will need to stab the pen into her leg (it administers adrenalin) and get herself to a Casualty department pronto. She came home last night, poor lamb is worn out, and is sleeping it all off.

Yesterday I went to Southampton Hospital for my Radiotherapy Planning session. It has to be one of the strangest experiences I have been through. I undressed, and laid on a metal couch with a device that looked like a sleeping policeman halfway down to stop me sliding off the end when it was inclined. I had my right arm in a very awkward position jutting out from my side above my head. This was very uncomfortable, and my arm went into spasm shaking uncontrollably. One of the radiographers massaged it to calm it down, the swelling under my arm is much more pronounced today, and I think I may have to endure a fair bit of discomfort over the next 5 weeks. I laid there for some 25 minutes, various people measured my body and made marks in black ink all over my chest! Once they were happy that they had the machines and me all lined up and marked properly, they made some of the marks permenant, and did some tiny tattoos, pin-pricks that look like tiny black freckles. Only one is really visible, sat at the top of my breast in the cleavage, so will be visible with some tops, the other marks are around the sides and I can't imagine anyone will ever notice them. I start the Radiotherapy on Tuesday next week, each session takes about 12 minutes under the machine in my case, plus the length of time it takes to get you in the right position. It will take me about 3 hours or more travelling though! I can't drive myself as the swelling under my arm now resembles a lemon, and driving is painful, and quite probably dangerous and illegal too. I have opted to use a Hospital Car, as it's virtually impossible for the iGit to keep taking so much time of work for so many weeks. This will mean a lot more waiting around for me, but at least it doesn't mean we end up completely borasic. We work for ourselves, and if we don't work, we don't get paid.

So if anyone has any bright ideas that will keep me occupied over the next five weeks, please tell me them, I am fast running out of ideas myself and would be grateful to hear them!