Two days later we trekked back to CUH but this time to the Dunmanway Ward. If you are ever lost in CUH, give me a call. I can probably direct you to pretty much any ward at this stage. But before that, was the issue of the bloods I had been reluctant to part with earlier in the week.
The Blood Room is located just down the corridor from the dressing clinic but is operated with a ticket machine – you pull your ticket and wait for your number to be called. We arrived at 1pm – big mistake! As I’ve told you before, the ladies in the blood room are super efficient and have that needle in your veins before your bottom is comfy in the chair. But I guess even vampires need a lunch break. Small tip from me – avoid lunch times at all costs. There was a huge amount of people all waiting with their little slips for the various blood samples required.
Again, I dispatched my partner to go & buy a paper (well, go anywhere rather than stand looking crossly at everyone) and sat back for a nice chat with an elderly gent next to me. He started to tell me how the English were a good rugby team, but not a great one. I could tell he was launching into a favourite subject. However, as I am Welsh, not English, he wasn’t getting much of an argument from me. In fact he lost interest in me almost instantly!
At 1.30pm there was a flurry of activity. The vampires returned and had the queue of people cleared in no time. My bloods were taken in the first attempt – they are geniuses.
The Dunmanway Ward is different again from the Orchid Centre. It has a lovely reception area where, I suspect, the receptionist will remember your name after two visits. If you are going to start immunotherapy, it’s a place you’re going to become very familiar with. It’s small and actually very welcoming.
My oncology nurse introduced herself and took us through the side effects of the combination of meds I would be taking. As I have said to you before, this is only my interpretation of how things work. So whereas normal chemotherapy blasts everything in your body, these meds are targeted. They stop proteins being formed that can become tumours.
Obviously there are going to be side effects. The main ones are flu-like symptoms, nausea and joint pain. There are lots of other terrific little bonus side effects which I will come onto in later posts.
Of course, she took my blood pressure which was sky high. Thankfully she appreciated that coming to see her was pretty stressful and left it to me to speak to my GP about the meds for that. I can’t say that I feel really stressed when I go to these appointments, but I guess I must be as my pulse races and my blood pressure zooms up, yet in my everyday life I’m a pretty laid back kinda gal.
So, if you’ve ever been on holiday in a really warm country and maybe partaken of one or two alcoholic drinkies, you might have experienced your ankles swelling slightly. I know this is the only time I have ever experienced it, until now. Because my lymph nodes are gone the fluid in my left leg is not moving as it should, causing the swelling. For all of my exercises, the lymphedema had set in and was really quite uncomfortable. The swelling was on my ankle, the top of my foot, behind my knee and at the very top of my thigh – that’s a lot of swelling on a normally skinny little leg.
I love my converse trainers but I was finding they didn’t give my foot any support so I had to dig out – from the very back of the wardrobe – a pair of actual trainers. These have been worn so infrequently that even though they are about 5 years old, they look brand new. I suppose at least they went with my sporty pants. My ankle and the top of my thigh were really warm all the time with the swelling. Watching telly with my leg over the back of the sofa has become my go-to position! I do appreciate this isn’t very lady-like, it also annoys Roger no end.
You may remember my ankle required an MRI. This turned out to be all clear and the cause for concern was probably created by a sprain years ago. It was actually the weekend of Lady Diana’s funeral. I was in a night club with friends, on the dance floor, when a fight broke out. Two young ‘ladies’ were throwing punches right next to me and one of them landed on my foot. This has come to be known as a comedy injury. If you don’t end up with one, have you even been on a night out?
We got a taxi back to my friend’s house and I doubt I gave my ankle much thought until the next morning – alcohol is a marvellous thing. The next day we went to visit my friend’s parents who were holidaying in their caravan just outside Scarborough. Her mum didn’t like me – thought I was a bad influence, which I absolutely was definitely not – but she did suggest that my ankle didn’t look great and we should maybe go to A&E. You can probably picture the A&E visit; two single women, both old enough to know better, very hungover and a young doctor. Cue lots of giggling and double entrendres, offers to listen to my chest with his stethoscope etc. I would like to think we cheered up his day.
I remember someone telling me that I would always have problems with that ankle. Well I certainly didn’t expect that problem to be a very unattractive swelling one.
I agreed with the oncology nurse that I would start to take my meds the following Monday….