Well, yesterday was an experience. But nothing like as bad or traumatic as I was anticipating – I was actually surprised.
Arrived at the hospital at 8:15 and waiting for the department to open at 8:40. Had bloods taken (they check haemoglobin, white cell count and platelets to check that your blood is in good enough condition for you to receive the treatment)
Then, after seeing my consultant and signing the consent form, had a good meeting with a specialist nurse, who explained what each of the 4 parts to the cocktail were, and what they did and what the side-effects are, they put me on a saline drip for an hour or two. This is to make sure that you are well hydrated before they hit you with the nasty stuff. It turns out the drugs are prepared specially for each patient on the day. The dosage is generally patient-specific, excepting for the Rituximab, which is given the same to everyone. But, that too is made up specially. It costs £2,000 for a 250ml bag, and “We don’t like to put it down the sink if you don’t arrive”. Which is fair enough, when it’s my tax that pays for it.
The first two bags of drugs, the Cyclophosphamide and Vincristine go through reasonably quickly, but the Rituximab is the one to which people get an allergic reaction, so they start that off slowly and gradually build up the through-put rate. They give you anti-histamines and paracetomol at then start of the procedure, to reduce the likelihood of reaction, but I was very fortunate. Apart from my hands going cold for about 10 minutes, I suffered no ill effects.
In fact the whole day went very smoothly. I was there until an hour or so after closing time, because of the time it took to administer the last of the drugs, but next time, things will be quicker.
Toady, I am at home, as I will be for the rest of the week. I’m not feeling too bad, it has to be said, but I didn’t sleep very well last night and am pretty tired, so I just have to take things easy. However, In readiness for my hair falling out (which it most likely will), I have been to the barber and had a “Nr 3” all over. “Are you sure?” he said…
I have to go back to the clinic there on both of the following Wednesdays between now and my next course. They need to check the blood again, as the treatment basically wrecks the white cell count and haemoglobin levels. This will leave me vulnerable to infection, particularly at the end of next week, so on the assumption that I feel well enough to go back to work, I need to be very careful in meetings. If anyone has a cough or a cold, I will need to make my excuses and leave, as a chest infection could kill someone with such a reduced system.
In summary then, things could be a lot worse. The additional drugs that you have to take, to prevent the sickness and stop stomach upsets, seem to be working fine at the moment. Fingers crossed, things continue as they are.