Wednesday, 8 July 2009

The longest day....Cycle 1, Day 1

What a day - we knew it would be a long one, but hadn't realized when we set out at 8.30 a.m. yesterday morning that we wouldn't be home again until after 8 p.m in the evening. Nor did we appreciate just how tiring doing nothing much can be - which is why the blog is a day late.

The day started with a bit of a puzzle - why was no one in the Oncology Day Treatment Centre expecting us? Phone messages were sent out to Alana (the drug trial nurse) to say that we had arrived, but it wasn't until half an hour later that we eventually found each other. Our mistake - we should have reported "upstairs" to Short Stay Oncology, rather than the Day Centre downstairs, where Steve had been screened last week...ooopps.

All the usual measurements taken - bloods, blood pressure, temperature and weight. All normal - in fact Steve has gained a little weight in the last week, which is good. First off, Steve was given some antiemetic drugs to stop him feeling nauseous. Before taking Cisplatin, which can damage kidneys, he was hooked up on a drip for 2 hours of saline solution to make sure he was well hydrated, followed by a session of Manitol - a diuretic. Trips to the en-suite loo involved unplugging the pump drip and wheeling the stand in with him. Well, I guess it makes a change from carrying around the chest drain bottle, which was his fashion accessory the last time he was in hospital!

More antiemetic tablets at lunchtime, followed by an hour of Cisplatin, then another hour of saline solution and more trips to the loo. By this time, we had got used to the routine - no drugs given without confirming name and date of birth. Guess who got his birthday wrong once? By 4 p.m. we had also read the newspaper (twice), Steve had finished a couple of crosswords, we'd looked at all the games on the I-pod, filled in some more forms, answered questions from the "pain trial" lady, taken photos and explored the corridor and roof garden. We were looking forward to what we thought would be the last session of the day before going home.

However, there was a suspiciously long gap when nothing happened after the last saline transfusion was completed. It transpired that although the trial drug Velcade has arrived safely, being new, the staff did not appreciate that it had to be administered within a specific period. By the time they were ready to use it, the drug had gone past its sell-by date by 30 minutes or so, and more had to be ordered. That was when we got a bit disheartened - not to say hungry. Steve hadn't ordered supper as we thought we would be done and dusted by 5 o'clock. Luckily, I managed to get to the hospital shop before it closed to pick up a couple of cereal bars and we were offered a cup of tea, which kept us going.

When it did arrive, the Velcade was administered within minutes, directly into the cannula rather than through a drip, so that part of the chemo was over. What we hadn't realized until then was that we would have to wait another hour or so before we could go home while Steve had a glucose solution transfusion. A sweet to go with the sour saline....

Then - joy of joys - one last dose of antiemetic tablets, before we were released into the big wide world, just as the heavy rain began to ease off.

That's it. Cycle 1, Day 1 over. Next time, we'll be better prepared - know where to go, take plenty to read/do (perhaps I should take up knitting?) and carry emergency supplies of food and drink. And remember name and correct date of birth! Now we wait to see if there are any side effects....

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