I had my first appointment on Tuesday afternoon, so travelled to Bangkok on the mid morning flight. It is a short flight, usually around an hour depending on whether the wind decides to help or hinder us on our way. Just long enough to quickly down the in-flight meal and watch 20 minutes of comedy TV.
My flight was a bit late arriving in Bangkok. Two passengers in Yangon airport had seemingly managed to get lost in duty free (really?) and were very late onto the flight. We had to wait for them as finding and offloading their baggage would probably have taken even longer. They got on the plane, the doors shut immediately and the plane was “pushed back” while they were making their way to their seats.
On arrival in Bangkok, there were queues much longer than usual at immigration. Just to make things more interesting and time consuming, I managed to select the slowest moving queue. This is a rare talent I have. All queues are similar in length. I give a cursory sweeping look across them all and choose the one which seems to be likely to get me through quicker. Then as it becomes apparent that I have picked the slowest moving queue by far, I dither about changing allegiance. Until it is too late.
Finally I got through and was sanding at the desk, on my tiptoes so that the little round camera could take a picture of my face as well as the greying insta-perm. As always, I worry that there is going to be some complication but I finally heard that wonderful, ker-chink, ker chunk sound as the immigration officer stamped my entry stamp into the passport. Welcome to Thailand. Phew!
On the flight I had tried to change my watch. Thai time is 30 minutes ahead of Myanmar time. I failed at that too. My nails are still quite crumbly from the taxotere (yes they are I am afraid) and when I try and prise open the winder on my watch the nails split and break. And the winder refuses to budge. I tried again once I reached town and settled in, but again failed miserably. I decided that I would manage to survive for a few days with my watch reading half an hour slow, and would be extra vigilant to make sure I remembered.
I clearly did not factor in chemo brain. I was sitting, catching up on email and skype before leaving for the first hospital appointment, scheduled for 5 pm. It was just after 4 pm so I was getting ready to leave. A few more minutes passed while I chatted and generally “faffed”. At 4.15 I pushed myself to get moving. Then realised with horror, that I had already forgotten about the time difference and it was in fact 4.45!
The Cancer Hospital is not too far away but traffic diversions slowed me down and I tried to look cool as I turned up at the outpatient counter. I apologised for being a few minutes late and was sneakily very relieved to hear that I had turned up before the Doctor had arrived!
I was soon called into Dr C’s consulting room and he welcomed me warmly, commenting on my chemo curls! I had not been in his room more than a few moments when the door slid open. I knew Dr W2 also consults at this hospital at the same time and although I was not due to see him until Thursday I half expected to say hello. Sure enough, he made his characteristic grand entrance. I greeted him warmly in Thai (I only know greetings and taxi Thai, so I hope it was a warm greeting). His response was “I don’t know you”, followed by his signature roar of laughter. Then he said something to Dr C and they both laughed heartily and Dr W2 disappeared, Dr C shaking his head and smiling at this guest appearance. It is quite difficult to convey this short interlude without it sounding as if it was rude or strange, but actually it was really warming. Dr W2’s message (and smile) clearly told me that I am no longer a frequent flyer at his chemo club. A very good feeling, if slightly unorthodox in approach!
Then Dr C had a look at my radiation skin. If I say so myself, I think it looks pretty healthy now and Dr C confirmed this. He said it had healed nicely and was a “good colour”! I am not sure what colour is good for post radiation skin, but if mine fits the criteria then I am happy.
He said there did not appear to be any troubling after effects, but was aware of the possible slight lung damage. He said this was quite normal and it is certainly not troubling me.
After a few more minutes of small talk he said that he did not need to see me regularly as he was happy with the healing. He suggested a follow up appointment after a year, and said that I should make the appointment for when I was coming to Bangkok for checks rather than make a special journey. Sounds very good to me!
I had come to this particular appointment with little or no anxiety. The examinations do not involve needles or pain usually, I was not aware of anything which could be troubling and I could see that the skin looked healthy. I was glad that there were no surprises (of the horrible kind) and left the Hospital in a sunny frame of mind, able to crank up the anxiety levels for the next round of appointments in the Thursday.
And that is Part 2 of the update.