Thursday 31 January 2013

Transfusion day: Chemo 6, Day 2

Although Steve had blood transfusion after chemo cycle 5, his haemoglobin level had dropped again by the start of chemo cycle 6 on Tuesday.  In fact, it had dropped back to the same low level as before, so evidently the benefits of the last blood transfusion were short lived.  

Looking back, it's interesting to see how the haemoglobin level has changed over the course of this regime, compared to the "normal" range of 13-18 cells per microlitre.  Here are the observations taken at the start of each cycle:

  • Cycle 1 - 15.6
  • Cycle 2 - 12.9
  • Cycle 3 - 11.2
  • Cycle 4 - 8.9 
  • Cycle 5 - 8.5 followed by blood transfusion 2 units
  • Cycle 6 - 8.5 followed by blood transfusion 3 units
Yesterday was Steve's second blood transfusion in this chemo regime. We knew it was going to be a long day, so went prepared mentally as well as practically, with books, newspapers, pens, notepads, a travel magazine (tempted to look ahead a little now we are in the last cycle of treatment) plus a cushion for comfort/back support for me as the visitors chairs offer little of either.  

We arrived on time at the chemo suite after what was, for us, an early start.  However, over an hour passed before Steve was hooked up, ready for his first bag of blood.  But we did discover something new during the wait.  Lurking around the corner from the bays where we usually sit and hidden out of sight, was a stack of personal DVD players with headphones and a DVD library.  The nurse was surprised no one had pointed us to it before!  So we were able to add a couple of films and a TV series to the array of things we could look at to pass the time.

The first unit of blood was delivered via a drip feed that took a horribly long time - 2 hours 45 minutes to be exact - and didn't finish until 12.30 pm.  Had things carried on like that, we would have still been there at six o'clock in the evening, after the chemo suite had closed!    

As a result, the second and third bags of blood were pumped through and only took two hours each to be transfused.  We said our goodbyes to the chemo suite before 5 o'clock and then faced an hour long journey home crawling through Oxford's peak hour traffic.  

In theory, we should have been celebrating last night - no more planned trips to the chemo suite in the foreseeable future.  In practice however, we both felt exhausted and took an early night, myself only a little later than Steve.  

The weekly food shop this morning has knocked Steve out and he's doing his impression of Sleeping Beauty again as I write.  If he manages anything more than eating, sleeping and taking his anti-sickness medicine over the next few days, I think that will be a bonus.  

However, all being well, he will perk up again next week as the side effects of the antiemetic medication wears off.  The side effects of the chemo itself will take longer to wear off, but he will get there in the end. 

Steve's follow up assessment is scheduled for 28 February. That's when we will find out the results of a scan (date to be confirmed) and what effect these six cycles of pemetrexed (Alimta) and carboplatin have had on Leo the Meso.

While we have been pre-occupied with hospital visits these last few days, the rest of the world has been very busy.  

The house where Steve's mum used to live has gone on the market, so we are keeping our fingers crossed for a swift and easy sale to fund her care home fees.  If anyone is looking to buy a three bed thirties semi with many original features, a large garden and a garage in Bristol, please get in touch!  

After an extended period of apparent inactivity, a large packet of documents arrived at home while we were in hospital yesterday - a sign that daughter Katie's flat purchase in London is moving forward at long last.  Whether the sale will be completed before the lease on their current flat expires remains to be seen.  Nail-biting stuff.....

Son Jack's travel plans for spring have taken a big step forward; we look forward to seeing him here around Steve's birthday before waving him off shortly after.

Fellow meso blogger Mavis and my namesake Linda (Reinstein), president, co-founder and CEO of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) were both honoured with awards by the Independent Asbestos Training Providers (IAPT) for their stirling work raising awareness of the risks associated with asbestos, both in the UK and globally.  

Mavis (left) and Linda (right) 

Meso warrior Debbie in Plymouth has been invited to speak at a very special event in London in the summer, but you will have to wait to find out more about that....

I now have a backlog of photographs to look at in the Best Shots photographic competition, which I am helping to judge.  If you fancy yourself as a photographer (or even if you don't!) you might like to support this charity fundraising event.  Just follow this link...Time for me to sign in and catch up, while Steve is still sleeping!  

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