Friday, 5 March 2010

By The Skin Of My Teeth

Photos copyright: Maggie May


I feel that I only got to chemo four by the skin of my teeth.
It was delayed by one week and I also felt that I was being dissuaded from carrying on. When I asked a ward nurse about this, she said that they were trying to give me a way out if I felt I had had enough, as I was suffering a bit because of my white blood cells being depleted and my digestive tract being so upset following chemo 3. However, they didn't reckon on my stamina and my belief that I am a fighter and that I won't give in.
You might well be getting heartily fed up with me writing about cancer related things all the time but I feel that as one in three of us will get cancer at some time in our lives, that I want to somehow or other, help take away the stigma from a once feared word and let everyone know that they can talk about it and that hiding behind fear, or avoiding it, will not make it go away.

I went in to Oncology early morning last Tuesday and had a full blood count taken straight away and found out quite soon that my white cells had perked up to a very good reading. I then had to wait for liver and kidney function tests that would take an hour and a half.
I chose a good vein to have the cannula put in to, one that hadn't been violated before because it does cause pain for weeks afterwards and theres no way that I would let them use the same vein twice. I had my pre chemo drugs put in right away.
The liver test reading came back and proved to be a bit low, but the doctor said that I could go ahead with chemo as long as I get another reading at my doctors in a week. I cannot get my head round that as surely this chemo will make it worse, but never mind perhaps there would be some treatment I could have. Anyway you can see that I did get into chemo four by the skin of my teeth.

I knew that if I took photos on the ward that might upset everyone, so I decided that I would take pictures for you to see when I went to the toilet. Reading that back I realise that statement could be taken the wrong way and I want to make it perfectly clear that I was NOT going to take a picture of me on the toilet but I wanted to take photos of the chemo bag and pump. The chemo is pumped in by electricity and when I go to the toilet, I have to pull out the wire that connect to the main socket, from the back of the pump and cancel the ensuing alarm. The pump then continues to work using a stored battery.
I have to then try not to tangle the long drip tube that trails everywhere or yank out the cannula in my right hand. That would definitely start the alarm up into action. Everything I do is with my left hand and seems very clumsy.
We are encouraged to drink masses of water throughout the sessions of chemo so we all seem to trundle to the toilet many times. I am on the ward for about six hours and I do find it a puzzle that I come back from several toilet trips and find the alarm is quiet and that no tubes have tangled up, and yet when I am sitting quietly reading a book, the alarm goes into spasms sending nurses scurrying to deal with it even though I don't feel I have done anything to upset it.
The time seemed to pass OK. Felt sleepy and had lots of naps. I really hope that I didn't snore at any stage.
The one depressing thing that I found this time round was that I saw more quite young people having chemo and some were only in their teens or early twenties.
That is something that I am grateful for....... this disease did not hit me while I was young.

I am at present, feeling tired and weary, itchier than I have ever been in my life...... to the point of pain and my digestion is all upset. No sign of chemo brain so there's always something to be thankful for. I had a few visitors today and it was sunny. Good to look at through the window.

I promise you that I will write a different kind of post next time. Something that will be fitting to Spring.





42 comments:

jinksy said...

Cor! I love the illustration of the canula! You can gather, I'm a bit of a freak, and like being able to have a nosey look at such things. I applaud your capacity for telling it how it is, for I see no sense in a hush hush attitude about things medical. Keep up your warlike attitide, Maggie - everybody likes a fighter, and we're all rooting for you.xxx

Must Work For Myself said...

Good news, glad you and your white blood cells are fighting with all of your might.

Teacher's Pet said...

Maggie...I am glad that you got good news about your white count and that you are taking chemo number four. You are a fighter, my friend. You have prayer warriors fighting with you and for you. Much love...
Jackie

Jeni said...

Don't ever think that you are posting too much about the cancer, the chemo or any of that stuff because by posting your thoughts there, you are in that process building up more fortitude for the next battle ahead! And also, your theory about by talking about this stuff, you will cast out many of the demons a lot of people have in their minds about cancer, about the treatments involved and possibly then, in doing that, will help to motivate others to getting necessary tests, getting diagnosis early on too and thus making getting "cured" much more of a probability as opposed to a rare possibility. You're doing great in all respects with this whole issue and I give you Kudos as a result of all you share with your writing here.

Frankofile said...

Yes- thank you for blogging, Maggie.

lakeviewer said...

I faint just looking at the machines! I know, a wimp! We do get more and more information and courage reading about your experiences. Stay strong.

Rose said...

Maggie, you don't need to apologize for writing about your experiences here. As you say, cancer has or will touch all of our lives in some fashion, whether its our own life or the life of a loved one. Your posts are so honest and have done so much to help all of us understand just what it's like to live with this disease. Yes, you are a fighter, and I'm glad you're continuing to fight back! I hope this round goes better and will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Mimi said...

Maggie, I thank you for writing so honestly about your cancer and your chemo.
I've learned so much from reading your posts.
And I applaud the fighter in you! You go girl!

Thumbelina said...

Keep writing THESE sort of posts Maggie. I love to hear how you are doing and it takes the mystery away from chemo for people.
I remember that machine and the tangling dangling tubes and wires and alarms.... oh I don't envy you but it is good to see you post,and you explain it so well.

Keep on keeping on. Hugs and prayers as always.

Oh - and posts about spring would be good too! (((hug)))

Robert said...

Keep fighing lass...

VioletSky said...

Oh Maggie, I am grateful for your honest reports of what you are going through. I'm learning useful information. And when one cares about another, it is good to hear all the details.
Keep your fighting spirit.

Valerie said...

Maggie, I am sure you're descriptions and pictures will go a long way to helping others who have to face the same thing. You are definitely a fighter and I am so pleased your white cells are looking up - so to speak.

She Writes said...

Write what you will! This is a tough place you are in and we are listening!

Casdok said...

Really pleased you had some good news and its interesting to read of your experience. My father has cancer and refuses to talk about it.
Keep fighting!

The Girl From Cherry Blossom Street said...

I hope you are feeling better!

Valleys Mam said...

just good vibes,support and prayers xxxxx

cheshire wife said...

Professionally I am very interested in reading your posts about chemo. I have always been fascinated by the actions and effects of drugs. I am sure that in a year's time you will look back on your blog and wonder how you manged to get through these few months. Please keep posting!

Eddie Bluelights said...

Well done Maggie and I think it is wonderful you are recording all this - it will help others and in a way it helps us to journey with you and give you all our support. Love Eddie x

Expat mum said...

If we were fed up with reading about your chemo etc, we wouldn't come back now would we? You just write about whatever you like, and take care.

Iota said...

Oh yes, yes, yes, this is all sounding familiar. Funny how, having been through it, I had forgotten how alien it must seem to other people. The pump, the bag of stuff dripping in, the IV line into a vein.

I think your nurses sound more helpful than the ones here. There was one time when I felt much worse, and my veins were hard to access, and they told me that people do much better on chemo if they drink a lot. Hm, I thought. Why didn't you tell me that at the outset? There were several things like that.

Here, though, they give you an injection to boost your white blood cell count. It can have nasty side effects - a lot of aching in your thighs or pelvis or sternum as the bone marrow gets going. And I know it cost several thousand dollars per shot. I hated the idea of having yet more drugs, but I could also see the sense in it. And I didn't really have much choice, in all honestly.

the mother of this lot said...

Yep, I think they reckoned without your fighting spirit as well! Go get 'em Maggie! x

aims said...

Oh my friend. Let's up the positives shall we?

Shall we do Positives x 4 now? I think that's a wonderful idea.

You ARE a fighter and a warrior and it is good to hear the nitty gritty of what everyone is afraid of.

With you as the narrator of the story we are all sitting on the edge of our seats waiting for what you say next.

Let me say to you from way over here in Alberta - You hold a piece of my heart in your hand -

Bernie said...

I think it is wonderful how you are sharing with us, all those who love and care for you. Maggie I think this is healthy and by showing us what is happening is showing us you are fighting this horrible disease with all you have. We are all here Maggie, pushing you on to a healthier and happier time ahead....Luv you..Hugs

Teacher's Pet said...

It's March 5th here...and I'm assuming it's March 6th there as I post this. I wanted to check back with you and let you know that prayers haven't stopped for you.

"Dear Lord, Thank you for continuing to watch over Maggie. Thank you for what you are doing and for what you are going to do in her life. Amen."

Much love,
Jackie

Deb said...

Hi Maggie ~ I love your attitude ~ you keep on fighting! And write about whatever you want - I think it is healthy for you to tell us about your journey and we do care about what is happening to you. And we are rooting for you, praying for you and look forward to celebrating with you !

Monalisa said...

You writing about your whole experience dealing with your cancer is amazing.
Everyone wants you to get through this, keep fighting.

Ayak said...

Maggie I think you now realise by the response you get to your posts, that we are not fed up with you writing about your experiences in dealing with cancer. We need to talk about it more. Too many people feel the subject should be avoided. I certainly appreciate your honesty. Keep on fighting!

Lots of Love
Linda x

Tracey said...

Hey Maggie
I've just discovered you while looking at other blogs..
You could never make anyone bored with your posts about cancer.. I harp on all the time about it lol.

I did giggle though when you mentioned having to drag the chemo on its trolley to the toilet with you.. I found that the funnest part of my chemo.. once i started going to the loo, i was dragging it around with me every 20 minutes or so for about 8 hours haha.
and the tangles one gets in... now thats a photo we should have.. i almost strangled myself with my tubes and bits and bobs.
Anyway, i hope your resting well and send my love to you xx

Life with Kaishon said...

Dear sweet Maggie, You can write about whatever you wish. You are an encouragement and blessing to so many. I am praying for you.

Tracey said...

Mee again
thanks for commenting on my "other" blog
i think it may have directed you there.... this one you mght find more appealing xx
http://theramblingsoftracey.blogspot.com/

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Dearest Maggie...you are delightfully sneaky!!! Wish I'd thought to photograph this way!!! Brilliant!!! And I think that your raw honesty is extremely helpful to people...helping them understand others who they may know who are experiencing a similar journey or who may be facing the trek themselves...you are inspiring, courageous, and truly a gift to all of us!!! We love you, and are cheering you on!!! And I for one have not stopped praying for you... continually!!! Standing with you...Love you so much!!! Janine XOXO

Naturegirl said...

Maggie :I know all too well the journey of chemo and the low blood counts causing delays in treatment.I counted each treatment know that each one brought me closer to the end and complete wellness. I am there on Solid ground & Solid remission and my days in the chemo ward seems like a distant memory! Hang in there you will reach this point too..soon it will be Spring and a time for our new beginning!
blessings to you and I send comfort as you heal and grow stronger with each treatment.
hugs to you I am a survisor of 2 primary cancer diagnosis.
aNNa xo

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

You can write and talk about it all you want Maggie. Whatever helps you through this is OK by me. It can only be a good thing to talk about this dreaded illness. Glad to hear that your white cell count is favourable and that you are coping with chemo 4. love Anne x

The Green Stone Woman said...

Maggie, you sure told an interesting story, with pictures no less! I was riveted. No, seriously. It's good that you write it all down and that we can learn about it. How are we going to know otherwise? You are a brave woman. I salute you!

By the way, can you send me an email from your email dress? I've lost yours in the process of setting up the new computer. Thanks!

Much love!

Helen said...

Dear, Dear Maggie ...
My best wishes I am sending your way. You are the inspiration we all need in our lives.

Mary G said...

Sending lots of hugs and wishes for spring for you. We have a month to go here, but the sun is bright and warm.

SandyCarlson said...

God bless your spirit. Giving you the option to quit? Ha. Meet Maggie, world!

Moannie said...

I love your honesty and your raw courage Maggie, and do not think for a minute that we would be hanging on to your every word if we did not love you. Think how much you are giving...fighter Maggie? I'll say. If anyone can sucker punch that foul interloper you can.XXX

Suldog said...

You just keep on fighting the good fight, and we're all behind you with prayers and good thoughts. You know that. Good for you.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

I know that you are a fighter, Maggie. Good on you! I had some not so wonderful news last year which has altered how I look at life. It is amazing what reserves of strength each of us have deep down when it really counts....You go girl! Hxx

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Don't worry about your post subject matter. It is what you are dealing with right now and very healthy to write about it. Glad you are doing well to get the treatment. Love that you were taking pictures from the toilet.

kkrige said...

I think that it is a brave and important thing to write about a cancer journey. The disease takes up a life, but is not life. I do not walk the halls of my local cancer clinic anymore, but was sick and feeling so very alone when I spent my days pushing a baby stroller there. Unfortunately, my husband succumbed to the disease, but I still carry on with our two children. Those days will be with me forever though. I wish you strength through your journey.

Katherine