PER GLI ITALIANI: ho iniziato il trattamento e ricevuto la prima chemioterapia, attraverso il mio nuovo Hickman line! Provero’ di scriverne di piu’ dopo…
Yesterday was Day 1 of treatment, meaning I got my first G-CSF (a growth hormone to encourage the immature lymphoblasts to get out and about into the bloodstream and into the line of fire of the chemo so we can zap them – I think that’s the idea, although the doctors may not have used the word ‘zap’) jabbed into my tummy and started taking some of the medicines etc to counteract the side effects the chemo may bring. I’m not sure how long I’ll be getting it.
Today, I spent a while watching Homes Under the Hammer and Real Rescue in a waiting room in the company of a prisoner with a kidney problem and his two prison guards (he was attached to one by handcuff), before getting a Hickman line inserted by the excellent and friendly (though very busy) Jasper, and his sidekick J-P. They were naturally impressed to know they were in celebrity company when I told them the chest and Hickman line on the Venous Access posters around the hospital belonged to me – the photos were taken when I was having one of my lines put in back in 2006–2008.
The Hickman line itself is a thing of wonder and beauty; I shan’t bore you with too many details in case anyone’s squeamish, but effectively it’s a tube put in my chest to provide direct access to my bloodstream for the insertion of chemotherapy etc and the taking of blood. It means avoiding the need for a needle in my arm or a cannula in the back of the hand whenever those things need doing, which is probably why having it inserted has put me in a very good mood.
As a result of unexpected delays in putting a line into another patient before my line could be installed, and the need for me to have an X-ray after it was put in so they could check it’s in the right position, I didn’t see the doctors until about 3.30pm today (Friday is the big ward round when everyone and her dog come around to nod sagely and look serious, but I only got two as I missed my first slot).
Doctor Koh said the chest x-ray showed the line is fine, and gave the thumbs-up to start chemo – I had fludarabine dripped in for about half an hour, and will get cytarabine later on. I happened to have two medical student friends around when the doctor came – no doubt they just wanted to brush up on their haematology… Ali was here for the chemo, which was very uneventful; the effects and side effects will be kicking in soon, though.
Today is of course Day 2 (in case your maths isn’t up to scratch) and the plan is for chemo every day up to and including Tuesday! I’ll be getting fludarabine and cytarabine on Days 2-6, and idarubicin on days 4-6. The last of these I wouldn’t be having if the echocardiogram (ECG) hadn’t shown I still have a “strong heart” in spite of my previous longstanding tussle with chemotherapy.
A strong heart? That’s a good start.