Friday, 10 October 2008

It's been a while.....

Some violas in pots in my garden. I love their diminutive faces

I have been a bit mute lately, tiredness is to blame. The infection last week floored me and I took to my bed. If sleeping were an Olympic sport, I think I stand a reasonable chance of winning a time trial. Come Sunday we were supposed to be in celebratory mood, it was my iGit's birthday. Unfortunately I wasn't up to doing much more than directing everyone else how to make Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pud, followed by an Apple crumble. Cooking by committee may catch on, I even ate a little. I hadn't made a birthday cake, so No1Son kindly brought one home, only to discover that LittleBird had to be kept at a safe distance from it; it's carton carried the ubiquitous nut allergy disclaimer.

On Friday despite feeling pretty grotty still, the swelling had subsided significantly, and I was given the go ahead to start Radiotherapy treatment in Southampton. On Tuesday I duly waited as I had been instructed for a hospital car to arrive, I waited and waited. My appointment was at 2.30, and it was well past 2pm by the time a car arrived, after a few phone calls to the hospital. They told me a car had been dispatched some time ago. To where I wondered, were the hoards in Outer Mongolia now being approached by a man in a Mondeo? The receptionist at the Oncology centre told me, they were a law unto themselves, and there had been some speculation that they in fact resided in an alternative time dimension. I nodded my agreement, just concerned that I would be seriously late, and that this would somehow effect my treatment. I was reassured that they were used to the flexible attitude towards time of the hospital cars, and that I would be treated regardless of what time I got there. The best way to deal with this was to forget the time, and just be ready each day at the appointed time. They would arrive; eventually.

So I am now 4 days into my treatment, and killing time waiting for a car to collect me; any time after 12 0'clock, so far its been 2.15 , 12.55 and 13.30. Sometimes there are other patients in the car, and we do a detour around parts of Hampshire I haven't visited before, it's not unlike a magical mystery tour, getting in a strange vehicle with various persons unknown, the only thing I can be sure of is my destination, how we get there, and who I get there with is kismet!

The system of checking in for appointments is very clever, we are issued with a barcode specific to us as a patient, I worried I might loose mine, I am prone to loosing bits of paper. It had occurred to me that they could have tattooed me with it when they tattooed my dots, and then all I would need to do is scan my belly. There wouldnt be any risk of loosing that, and believe me, I have tried!

Each day the radiographers ask how you are, they have some very strict do's and dont's about skin care, especially in the area you are being treated. No soap except Simple Soap. No Deodorants or Antiperspirants . No Perfume, no make up, no baths, no bras, you get the picture. Cool showers are allowed, but you are not allowed to scratch or drag the skin, and must try and pat yourself completely dry after. They are also keen that you cover the area being treated in Aqueous cream once or twice a each day. They give these instructions to try and ameliorate the long list of side effects Radiotherapy has. It ranges from skin irritation and burns to Lymphodema, and several unpleasant things in between.

Each day they ask you how you feel , any swelling, any soreness. Yesterday I had to answer, 'Yes'. When I had been drying myself after a shower that morning, I had noticed that my right breast was considerably larger than usual. I showed my iGit, he just smiled that inane smile men do when presented with a naked body, and agreed, yes it was larger. I mentioned this to the radiographers, and that the area was again tender and sore. Initially they said, not to worry about it, and settled me into the position I need to be in on the couch for the treatment. They zapped me as per usual, but when they returned told me they had called an Oncology Registrar, they thought I should be given the once over. I toddled off to find said Dr. and was examined again. The verdict? More antibiotics; deep joy, I have only just finished a course on Wednesday, and they aren't exactly gentle on the stomach.

So by the end of today, I will have completed 4 treatments, and have 21 more to go. Good news is, they agreed to let me have my 50th birthday off, lets hope the weather is as good and I can go for a nice walk somewhere beautiful! Yay!