Sunday, 26 February 2012

Being admitted into hospital

The last couple of days I had been feeling ok other than tired. My mouth had started to feel sore, hurting when I yawned. I had been given a special mouthwash to counter-act this, not entirely sure it's working! My blood test were also coming back ok and hadn't started to drop until yesterday. Today I got classified as neutropenic, which means that my blood isn't producing any white blood cells and therefore means that I am particulary prone to catching infection and must be really careful.

I got admitted into hospital today. My blood levels were really low and I started to feel really exhausted and my stomach was hurting. I had gone to have my morning bloods and my blood pressure was low. They said to come back in the afternoon to double check. However, I got admitted before that. We went back to ambulatory care, got checked by the nurses and the doctor and they decided it be best for me to be admitted. They thought that my low blood pressure was due to being dehydrated, eventhough I have drunken loads due to my dry mouth. They hooked me up on to a drip of potassium something to re-hydrate me.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Stem cells and sweetcorn

Today I received my stem cells back which were taken a few weeks ago. I had to be canulated due to the stem cells being quite thick and gloopy and wouldn't have flowed well down my picc line. The nurse got the canular in in one attempt! Albeit quite painful, but one attempt is better than four! Once I had been canulated, the stem cells arrived, in what can only be described as industrial looking bin (others have said dalek... I like both comparisons). They had been stored in liquid nitrogen and preservative which smelt like sweetcorn. I had my pre-meds which included piriton and anti-sickness. I also had a blood test and pressure test before they started.

The stem cells, which just appear like gloopy blood, had been seperated into five bags and all had to go in with saline to help them flow. The nurse had to stay with my at all times and thaw each bag of cells in a water bath before they could go in. Once melted, they were attached to the canular and allowed to flow. Because of their thickness, they sometimes needed extra help going through. At which point the nurse had to inject more saline to clear the blockage. This was more painful then the actual needle going in, as the saline was literally shoving the thick blood into my veins. Ouch :( This only had to be done twice though. Phew. We arrived at the hospital at 10.30am and left around 4.30. I had to wait around for an hour or so after they were finished to make sure I was ok and that my blood pressure had reduced from pushing the new cells in. It had reduced, although it had been raised earlier during the process.

The whole process was rather exhausting. It took a lot longer than we thought, because it had been seperated into five bags, when they only took one originally. I can't smell the sweetcorn at the moment but could smell it in the hospital. My dad is convinced I smell like sweetcorn. I find it hard to believe. If so, I hope the smell disappears soon!

What happens now is that I just have to wait! There is no more treatment as such. The chemo is finished and I now have my stem cells back. I still have to go to the hospital every day for blood tests, check ups and to be seen by the doctor, but until the point that I get too ill, I'm allowed to still stay in the hotel and do normal things. They say that it takes a couple of days for me to get ill from receiving the stem cells. So now, all I can do is wait!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

End of chemo, stem cells back

I have now finished the chemotherapy part of my transplant. My fanny pack of fun was also removed today woooooop! I have now come up in a rash all over my arms, legs and chest, but the nurses and doctors think that it's due to the chemotherapy drugs I have been taking and have prescribed piriton. So far each day I have been given the same drug, apart from today where I was given a different one. This was infused in half an hour, rather than over two hours. I also got to have an ice-lolly with my chemo (win! It was very tastey) because this drug is meant to make your mouth sore and nurses have a theory that if your're eating something cold whilst it's being infused, it helps. We shall see, either way, I got an ice-lolly out of it :)

Tomorrow I am due to get my stem cells back. They have been frozen and so will be thawed whilst I get them back. We were told the preservative that they are frozen in smells like sweet corn... Hopefully I won't come away tomorrow smelling of corn, but could be worse I guess! After I receive the stem cells back, which they need to canulate me for as they don't go through the line well, I don't receive anymore treatment, but still need to go in every day for observations and blood tests to monitor the levels in the blood. We then have to wait until I get too ill, that I will need to be admitted as an inpatient. My blood levels at this point will also be very low and I will be neutopenic (low number of neutrophils). They said this could take a couple of days, from when I receive the stem cells back, so probably around Friday or Saturday.

Other than the itchy rash and feeling very tired, I am feeling ok. For now... Will try and update again soon.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

More chemo and treatment

I have now had three days of chemo as part of my transplant. The first day was pills and yesterday and today were all intravenously through my line. They take blood before each session starts and they chemo drips in from two bags over two hours. Yesterday the chemo went well and I felt fine They also hooked me up to a sexy bum bag with chemo in it which drips in over 24 hrs. Today I had my treatment and felt horrendous. I got home from the hospital and completely flaked out. I could hardly keep my eyes open and spent the rest of the afternoon in bed. I felt a bit sick, but not that I was going to be sick... (if that makes any sense...). I didn't even have any lunch! And for me to miss a meal, something is definitely wrong! I'm feeling much better now typing this. Still a bit tired, but not feeling ill.

More to come over the week x

Thursday, 16 February 2012

More problems- Starting in hospital

I arrived at the hospital yesterday, expecting my new set of chemo to take place. Everything was going really well until the nurse took one look at my picc line and said it was the wrong one. I had one with one tube coming out of it, it needed two. Great. So all the palava I had been through the other day, all the bleeding, A&E, more bleeding had been for nothing because it was the wrong wire. They did say, that potentially I would have to wait til next Monday before they could find someone to do it and said they would call me to update on the situation. Thank goodness they found someone. Two hillarious nurses did the procedure. Which was quite bizarre, because a consultant, with two nurse helpers did the last one... The second team were really funny and made the whole situation feel a lot lighter then the mad man who did the last one.

The line is now in my left arm with two dangling tubes hanging from it. It's very attractive. They can give me two different things at once, if they need to. Because they had to take out the original line and change it for the correct one, my treatment was delayed for a day due to not being able to get the tablets from the pharmacy in time by the time it was finished... Not as bad as it could have been!!!

I went in today for the start of my treatment. Every day they will take blood to check the levels are ok. The doctor came around to make sure I was ok and that the line hadn't caused any problems over night. I also met the pharmacist who went through the side effects of all the drugs I have to take alongside my chemo (my old man pill pot has been topped up with around 19 pills a day...). My blood was taken through the line and my chemo today was just in pill form. Eleven pills. 10 of one thing and 1 of another kind. All in the name of fun...

Tomorrow the proper chemo starts!!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

More information on the transplant

Here is a link to more information on the stem cell transplant.
Happy reading...

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Picc Line fiasco and A&E

This week I was scheduled to have my picc line fitted. A picc line is a tube inserted into a vein in the upper arm, that makes taking blood and receiving medicine intravenously a lot easier, so they don't have to find a vein each time. Especially if, like me, you don't have particularly good veins.

We turned up for the appointment at half past three and at six o'clock I was finally called in. They explained that there had been a couple of emergencies who were rushed in and needed urgent attention and that was the reason for the delay. Nothing we could have done. The doctor seemed a bit on edge and not really with it. Brilliant. He took me into the room where he was going to perform the procedure, after having already put on a sexy surgery gown, I had to lay flat on my back with my right arm streched out on what looked like an ironing board. He performed an ultra-sound scan to find the vein and injected a local anaesthetic into my arm, which actually quite hurt! I couldn't see what he was doing, but could feel blood trickling down my arm as he was inserting the line. About half an hour later, it was finished. He put some very specialised bandaging on it and left the tubes hanging. He told me I could go. I asked him how I should take care of it and he said he didn't know. Again. Brilliant. He got one of the nurses to put a bandage around it so the tubes weren't loose.
What a fun experience that turned out to be.

We arrived home and within ten minutes of being home, the whole thing started pouring with blood.  Slightly pannicked, we called the GP who reccommend going to A&E as it is quite specialised. We then phoned the chemo ward to see what they suggested and they said the same thing. Back we schlepped to the hospital, but to A&E this time. We got seen by a nurse almost instantly, but she didn't know enough about it, put us in a room and told us to wait for a doctor. About 2.5hrs later, a doctor came in (he happened to look like Jack Whitehall, but that's not important). He had a look at it and said he would be right back. By this point it had already stopped bleeding. He lied. Another 20 minutes later he had another look and asked a few questions. He went off again. I then went to get a drink and bumped into him. He said he was sending a nurse to take some blood... After a while, a consultant came. Had a look, said it wasn't anything to worry about as the bleeding had stopped and they didn't want to change the dressing because it was too specialised. Six hours in hospital. The fun never stops!

Two days later we were back at the hospital for more tests pre transplant. In the chemo lounge they took my blood from my new line. It worked :) She also cleaned it up and changed the dressing, so now it looks beautiful (in comparison to what it did the other day anyway...) I also had to have a heart scan, which is just like an ultra sound but over my heart. She said that was all fine and my heart was good. I then had a chest x-ray, which will be sent to the transplant unit to check the line is as it should be.

Back to the hospital again to see the consultant who had all the results from my tests. My heart was good, my line was in the right place and everything was as it should be! He explained a bit more about what was going to happen in hospital. For the first week, every day, I will be having high intensity chemo therapy. At this point, I will be allowed to stay in a hotel near the hospital. After this week, once the chemo has kicked in, I will then be admitted into hospital, as the chemo is so intense, it is guaranteed to make me very ill. I will be admitted on Wednesday 15th Feb.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

More cancer fun

Last week I had my extra chemo as part of the transplant. It was a more intense, higher dose of one of the drugs I used to receive in previous chemo sessions. I felt a bit funny for the first time whilst having chemo. It did take four attempts to get the canular in, a new personal record, and I just didn't feel right. I came home from chemo with a big bag of injections to have every day and feeling a bit sick.

The next day I woke up feeling pretty horrendous and for the first time, having already been through six rounds of chemo, I threw up. I went back to bed for a couple of hours and threw up again. Everywhere. My dad phoned the chemo ward to let them know and they suggested some stronger anti-sickness medication, which he went to pick up. After taking them, I felt much better and didn't throw up again. I didn't mind the whole vomming situation, as I think I've been very lucky not to have even felt sick or thrown up from my previous chemos so I wasn't too gutted.

Every day after chemo and before the stem cell harvest I had to have GCSF injections, which are meant to promote stem cell growth. I had two of these injections every day in my stomach and now have some nice bruises to show off. I even let my friend do one of the injections (she is a trainee nurse and the doctor was there watching!) In the stomach they aren't as painful as they would have been in other places. Before the harvest I also had to pee for 24 hours into a bottle, which was to check my kidneys were ok. (They are :)) I also had to go for one final blood test which they did on the chemo ward. One nurse tried and gave up after one attempt cos she was so scary I flinched. One of the regular chemo nurses took over and got it in on her second attempt, so only 3 goes... not as bad as last week... Damn my rubbish veins!

I had my harvest session today. It involved more needles, tubing and being hooked up on to a very large machine for four hours. One regular canular got inserted into my right hand, no problem getting it in, and one massive metal needle which doesn't bend was inserted into my other arm on the inside of my elbow. This arm could thus not be moved for the enitre process. They did tell me that once I was hooked up to the machine, they weren't unhooking it until the end, so if I needed to pee, it would have to be into a bottle... not so easy when you can only move one hand... I will spare you the rest of the details... The whole process of filtering the blood and removing the stem cells lasted about four hours. They collected 2.5million stem cells, which disappointingly only looked like a small sandwich bag not even half full.. Never mind! I am to see the consultant again next week, who will then decide when I will be admitted to hospital! Still more fun to come!

PS sorry for all the talk of vomit and wee...