Bloods, Clinics and Stockings!

I was finally at Week 4 of my meds – not that I’m counting or anything, but that means only 11 more months to go. Hey, when I turned 50 – I mean 40 obviously – I spread the celebrations out for that for at least 11 months so I’m sure I can handle these bad boys.

I set off for my first oncology clinic at 6am so that I could arrive ahead of the crowds to see the vampires – sorry, my mistake, to see the ladies in the blood room. I’m not an up-with-the-lark kinda gal. Friends who lived opposite us a few years ago suggested that we didn’t know there actually was two 11 o’clocks on a Saturday.

As such, I was not about to lose a valuable 15 minutes in bed by wasting it on make up. When I got to the blood room I was the only victim, I mean customer, so there was no time to slap on a bit of foundation to cover up the teenage spots. Yes, the spots, bleeding gums and a few mouth ulcers were still an ongoing gift from Mr Mekinist & Mr Tafinlar.

As I’ve told you before, even with my practically non existent veins, the ladies have that needle in your arm before you’ve warmed your bottom in the seat. As it was still quiet, my lady was in the mood for a chat. At the end of the chat – pay attention to this – she checked my date of birth. When I confirmed it she said she thought it was recorded incorrectly as I only looked IN MY 30’S!!!!!!! Some might say that was a bit of flannel to cheer me up, some might say it was the chin full of spots, some might say youthful good looks, whilst others might say pickled well. You can choose but I don’t need to hear the answer!

Straight from the blood room, I headed to see the physio. With so many lymph nodes gone, my leg had been swelling badly every day. The physio measured me up for a compression stocking. My dear readers, over the years, I have worn fishnets, seamed stockings, hold-ups & opaques but I never thought I would be sporting a compression stocking. The physio measures both legs to do a comparison and your leg is marked with blue marker all the way from top to bottom – toe to bottom actually. You get a choice of colours – I chose black as I figured it might be more practical. I will let you know if it was a good choice.

From there I went to the clinic. I expected to see my own oncology nurse, but this was different. I was assigned another nurse and headed off to an examination room with her to meet one of the oncology team. They needed to know about the side effects I was experiencing. They didn’t seem overly concerned about my spotty chin. To be fair, I had managed to cover up with a bit of make up at that stage. But, they were concerned about my blood pressure – do you see a pattern forming here? This time it was 150/115 – not that clever at all. They advised I must see the GP the following day to get it under control.

As an aside, if you are ever trying to text someone about your blood pressure, use the full words. If you put BP, your not-so-smart phone changes it to BO. So if you are rushing you end up telling people that your BO is out of control. This can produce a range of mixed replies!

As the appointment drew to a close, the next date had to be booked. The doctor referred to my ‘oral chemotherapy’ and swept over it so quickly I wasn’t sure he had said it. But when the appointment card was given to me it did indeed say Oral Chemo.

I needed to get back on the road so I didn’t question anything, but my head was buzzing. Wait a minute! I’m on immunotherapy, not chemotherapy. I’m not losing my hair or picking out head scarfs. Have I not paid enough attention? Have I not asked enough questions? I drove home in a blind panic.

I was still upset when I got home and blurted it out to OH. Generally I like to think things through before I tell him anything major. OH was as upset as me. Had we been tricked?

The following morning NN rang me. It was a perfectly timed call. She set my mind completely at ease. She explained that oral chemo would be an old school term for immunotherapy. That whilst chemo blasts everything, hence the hair loss and all the other terrible side effects that brave chemo warriors go through, I am on a targeted immunotherapy. Mr Mekinist & Mr Tafinlar speak to each other and stop certain proteins building up which in turn stops, hopefully, any further melanoma being created elsewhere in my body.

I know they are only words, but they are incredibly important. In so many jobs I have done in the past, we use jargon so easily. It was the first time I had been so upset by that jargon.

The following morning I received this card from my beautiful friends in the original WhatsApp conversation who had forced me to go to the GP with the lump. Of course, it is the ginger prince inside that suit of armour!

Published by rogersmum

I live in Co Kerry, Ireland with my partner, Paul. I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Cancer in 2019. This blog is about my journey through Immunotherapy - the ups & the downs

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