It’s become a weekly ritual. The two hour journey up the motorway to Nottingham. Parking the car at the Wilkinson Street Park and Ride before catching the Medilink bus. I have come to the city hospital for a meeting with my consultant ahead of a scheduled admission into the hospital some time next week for the final chemotherapy/stem cell treatment. Also a chance that get my line checked (Hickman Line) and the attendant bloods.
It’s strange to think that 30 years ago my home was this city, whilst completing my degree and PGCE. This is more stark on the day an ex-hurricane strikes the British Isles on the 30th Anniversary of the Great Storm of 1987. I do remember waking up in my student digs to hear the news of the devastation down south. This time it’s Ireland and the West that will bear the brunt. The only effect here is the unseasonably warm temperatures (24°C).
Here on the Bethell Daycase Ward they are running late as usual so as so often in the last few months.
I am seen by the sister who completes the line check. This involves changing the waterproof dressing, cleaning the skin surrounding the Hickman Line with alcohol. Injecting saline and extracting blood to ensure the Line is working properly. Taking blood for testing. Injecting Heparin into the line to keep it from clotting.
I am seen by my consultant along with one of the Macmillan nurses and we discuss the upcoming treatment and it’s risks. My weight and height are taken and I am prescribed some antibiotics to deal with the remnants of my pesky cold. The plan is this. A bed will be available from as early as Sunday (in which case they will ring me) but I will ring from Monday. I will be admitted either Monday or Tuesday at the latest and they will administer a reduced dose of chemotherapy over two days. The stem cell transplant will occur either Wednesday or Thursday. They reckon I will start to experience the effects of chemotherapy five days in and for about ten days before my neutrophils will kick in. In this time I will experience a sore mouth, and gastroenteritis. The main risk is my kidney which may tip over into the need for dialysis.
It’s all a bit scary though I have learned that they always give the worse case scenario.