Sunday, 16 February 2014

VanSel1 biological drug trail Cycle 1, Days 6 - 14: Watching and waiting

These last two weeks, it feels like we have been on guard duty 24/7 - watching and waiting on a number of fronts, ready to spring into action if necessary.

It's now two weeks into the VanSel1 drug trial and Steve has been taking a daily dose of vandetanib, starting with four days on the "loading dose" of three 100mg tablets, then reducing to two 100mg tablets per day thereafter.  

So far, he hasn't had any noticeable side effects.  The biggest challenge has been getting into the routine of taking the tablets at a particular time each day AND remembering to write it down in his record diary.  The timing hasn't been critical up to now, provided he takes the tablets within a window of an hour.  However, that will change tomorrow.

Tomorrow, Steve will start taking the second trial drug, selumetanib.  He mustn't eat anything for two hours before taking this drug and one hour afterwards.  This makes the timing of the dose much more important!  We have decided on 11.30 am as the best "dose" time for us.  We must finish breakfast by 9.30 am at the latest and not start lunch until after 12.30.  And no elevenses!

If Steve has side effects from the drug trial regime, these are likely to start when taking both drugs. We are preparing ourselves for the worst but hoping for the best, as always.

We have also been on guard duty for other reasons - keeping a close eye on river levels and the rise and fall of flood waters as the top of the food gauge in the stream at the end of our street has submerged, reappeared briefly, only to disappear again as storm, after storm, after storm sweeps in across the Atlantic to batter the British Isles. 

As you can see from the photo below, West Oxford where we live is a relatively small raised area in the middle of the Thames flood plain.  One of the Thames tributaries lies at the end of our street.  The park beyond the stream is at a lower level than the built up residential area, so we expect it to go under water for a few days most winters (and sometimes at other times of the year).  

The Thames in flood through Oxford

However, it has now been under water continuously for more than five weeks, in fact since 4 January when we had our first flood warning, and had been submerged on and off before that over Christmas.  We are told to expect water levels to rise again this week as the rain that fell upstream from us works its way down river. So we watch and wait, hoping that levels will not rise above last week's peak.

We are looking forward to see some green grass again instead of water....On the other hand, perhaps we should get ourselves two kayaks and take to the water like this couple I met at the end of our street a few days ago.  They had paddled through the floods from the other side of the city...

Kayakers arrive at the park at the end of our street

...or join this lot, who paddled across parks, along roads as well as the river into central Oxford from the north!

If you want to see what it was like in the January floods on the main road (Botley Road) at the other end of our street, watch this video! Paul's motor bike passes the end of the road where we live about 2 minutes 14 seconds into the film.  

I'm pleased to say that in the last two weeks, the Fire and Rescue Service have had pumps working at three strategic locations along the main road and we have not been cut off by flood water on Botley Road this time around.

We have also been keeping watch on the winds.  Luckily for us, the worst of the winds have hit elsewhere in the country. But they have still been strong enough to blow down a tree in the park and lift a slate off the roof - only one so far, thank goodness.

And so the watching and waiting goes on....At least the unprecedented weather has taken our mind off the drug trial to an extent.  Day 15 onwards in Cycle 1 could change that. I will keep you posted.  

We are also waiting and watching out for the start of consultation on the Saatchi Bill, aka The Medical Innovation Bill, which I wrote about last week. Click here to see that post.  All the meso bloggers have been getting behind it.  We have even had a thank you on Facebook.  Together we are stronger.  So true!  

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