Day 383 – 384

Ward.

It’s easter Bank Holiday and I’m in Treliske getting my shot of Cyclophosphamine, to stress my bone marrow into over-producing stem cells.  I’m addmitted the evening of the 2nd as they want to start early.

It’s an odd night – I’m in a ward surrounded by ill men who groan and wheeze and snore and cough and there alarms and buzzers ringing all the time.  Some of these fellows are very unwell; some post surgery and some with what I think are hot looking raw radiation burn on their faces and necks, a man who can barely speak but remains in good spirits as I hear snatches of his whispered words, and a chatty thin man across from me who can’t take solid food so is feeding himself,  improvising with a mastic skeleton-gun he’s brought in and modified to take the big syringe attached to the tube through his nostril – it makes it easier to push the thick liquid down the tube – genius!  I feel the question ‘What am I doing here?’ as I look so fit, but I don’t think anyone really asks that.  The guy next to me behind a curtain is in a lot of pain and is beyond controlling it.  We’re all waiting for his morphine to arrive so he can get some rest.  I never see him because each time the nurses try to open his curtains he asks them not to and they don’t.

I’m only here for 36 hours but most of these guys are in long term.  It’s hot and stuffy.  There’s no daylight in here and I can’t see out – just bright neon strips which stay on until midnight at least.  This is a hard environment to be in.  I do my best and read and have my laptop to occupy myself with but after 24 hours I’m pretty spaced out and it becomes very hard to concentrate on anything, so I too end up staring at the wall.

This chemo is quite a heavy dose and to ease it in I’m hooked up to the drip pump for 16 hours, starting at 8am getting a lot of saline and bags of anti-sickness too and then the chemo drug and then lots more saline, the last 2 hours bag set up to run till 2am, when I’m gently woken and my blood pressure and temperature are taken again and the canula removed.  A long session, but nothing compared to the endless days these other patients are enduring.  Keep well people, keep well.

I thought the chemo drug was called Psychophosphamide when it was first mentioned, and it would have been a good name as it brings with it a darkness that is hard to counter.  I know I’ve had this with some of the other chemo too.  This one also makes me hot and my skin puffy and slightly red; my eylids swell up along with my feet.  It’s all the fluids pumping into me too I suppose – I’m being weighed and I’m 3 or 4 kilos above my actual weight which is also fluid retention.  The nurses want urine samples and it comes out pink.

Diana comes to pick me up at 7.30am – it’s a bright morning and good to be heading home.  I actually sleep most of the day and on through the following night, remembering somewhere in there to give myself the first injection of a Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) drug called Lenograstim which stimulates the bone marrow to produce white blood cells and stem cells, which I have to do each evening now until harvesting.

Bed feels good.  My bed feels good.  I think a lot about the men still in that ward – illness, hospitals, patients, doctors, nurses…