Yesterday was the start of my second chemotherapy cycle. Each cycle is kicked off with what basically amounts to a day in hospital having an IV infusion of oxaliplatin. Yesterday was booked to start at 9am, but with the need to get the kids to school etc, we pushed them back to 9:30, and actually managed to get there at 9:40 (the traffic on the M27 is dreadful these days).
As before, I was ushered into my hotel-come-hospital room, and tea & biscuits immediately turned up, shortly followed by a really nice doctor who has recently been poached from Pakistan. Apparently he held a senior role in paediatrics out there, but having come to the UK is now sadly doing much more menial tasks like simply drawing blood. However, talking to him about life out there and his very young family I can see the logic in what he and his family are doing. Their life would not change for the better under the Taliban, for example.
He got the cannula installed (in my right hand this time) and bloods drawn. Three vials this time for a variety of tests; CEA, FBC & Differential, Urea & Electrolytes, Liver function, and Bone profile. Again, I managed not to faint. I may finally have this whole blood-test / fainting thing resolved.
A little over an hour later the all OK came back down in the form of the actual chemotherapy medicine, dissolved as before into 500ml of glucose solution.
The difference this time was that the cancer nurses piggy-backed the chemotherapy medicine with another litre of glucose solution so the two would be infused at the same time. Clearly this lowers the concentration of the drug that my veins were being exposed to. They also reduced the speed of the infusion, extending the infusion from 2 hours to nearly 3 hours, which again gives the drugs more time to be carried away from the IV site and around my body. And finally they supplied a series of heat packs that are simply laid on my arm over the IV site and up the forearm. This helps to increase the blood flow through the veins in that area, helping to move the drugs away faster.
And the result so far seems to be very positive. Pain, swelling, tenderness in the arm is significantly reduced over the first cycle. There is still significant discomfort … but its nowhere near as bad as last time, and I can imagine (at the moment) that it could well fade away over the next couple of days. Which is great, as it would tend to make me think I may be able to avoid the whole central line business, which is another small win for me.
The pharmacist was also very helpful, and spent a lot of time going through the drugs and side-effects again, exploring which were the worst, and what she could do to help minimise them, and what I could do (from her experience of them) to help myself without needing recourse to further medicines.
In the end I was home around 4:30pm, but feeling exhausted. So now I just need to make up another tick-chart, and get on with taking all the various tablets again.