It seemed like lots of other people had an appointment at the Cancer Centre today as well. Queues to get into the car park and out again because there were no spaces...we eventually took a chance and left the car in a staff car park at the other end of the site and walked. Thank goodness Steve is mobile! Although we were late as a result, the clinic was also running late so no harm done and Steve didn't miss his slot.
I think for the first time ever, I sat in the waiting area and didn't feel nervous or apprehensive - we'd had the bad news back in September. This time round it was just a feeling of curiousity. We didn't have to wait long until Steve was called into the consulting room and we were joined by Dr T, the consultant oncologist, who always puts us at ease. It's been a long time since we last saw him, so it was good to meet up again.
He said he was pleased that Steve had self-referred to the hospital the weekend before last when he had felt very poorly and developed a fever. Although most of the blood tests taken at the time came back normal, in one of the tests for C-Reactive Protein (also known CRP) the results were off the top of the scale! A high or an increasing amount of CRP in the blood suggests an acute infection or inflammation, although it doesn't identify the location or cause of the infection, so that's still a mystery...
We also told him about the saga of trying to get help and advice from the hospital's own triage assessment centre, only to find that no one picked up the phone even though its supposed to be a 24/7 service. Because of that, we'd had to contact NHS Direct for advice, been passed on to the GP's out of hours locum and then on to the out of hours medical centre, who eventually got Steve a referral to the hospital where we had tried but failed to get advice hours earlier in the day. I think it's fair to say that Dr T was horrified to hear what had happened and apologised profusely. The triage assessment service is something the hospital is very proud of, and our experience should not have happened. We will leave it to him to sort out! I'm sure he will.
He has switched Steve on to new anti-sickness medication to see if that helps with nausea next time round. He also explained that Steve will have a check up and X-ray every three weeks while treatment is in progress to assess how he's feeling, tweak the medication if necessary and check the response to chemo. So that explains the mystery of today's appointment; now we know that these hospital visits will happen the week before each new chemo cycle, we can put some more dates on the calendar.
Check up completed for this time round, Steve made an appointment for his next visit to the Chest Clinic on 15 November and we checked out of hospital. Lucky for us, we hadn't been given a ticket for leaving the car in the staff car park and there was even a parking space on street, almost outside our house when we arrived home.
Bloods at the GP tomorrow. Let's hope they put the samples in the right coloured bottles this time so that the correct tests are done in time for Monday's chemo session and the start of cycle 2. But we have a free weekend to enjoy before then. Wrap up well and make the most of the sunshine due tomorrow before the clouds return!