………. in the right direction.
Slowly but surely things are moving forward. Thursday has disappeared, and now Friday is following it.
I dragged myself to Counter 2 yesterday, and Dr W2’s nurse waved me on to Counter 3 (Dr W’s zone). Instead of kicking my heels and disappearing, I confessed that I was expecting a blood test. She checked the computer, and sure enough, it wanted blood! Needle number 1 on perma-bruised skin.
Then we headed to Counter 3 to wait for Dr W. I was really nervous about this appointment. Dr W has high standards for Twang Arms and I knew I was going to fail miserably. Sure enough, he did say that the motion was not good enough for him – and I agreed it was not good enough for me either. I mentioned that radiation had really stiffened it, and he nodded. He said that it can make the arm very stiff. He was very happy with my swimming plan and also suggested gentle massage to release the cording. I can’t wait to swim again, but that won’t be for another few weeks. He also said how pleased he was that my treatment was over now – and he remembered how much I had been dreading it. He then went on to talk about the next stage. He will want to see me every three months for the first two years, then six monthly until I reach five years post diagnosis. At that point I will only be seen every year. He told me that once a year will be what they call the “Big Check”. This will involve mammogram, scans, blood tests and other tests to screen for any recurrence or metastasis. After he answered my questions, he said he was very happy with my progress. We left with the warm farewell of friends.
Heading back to Counter 2 we learned that Dr W2 had been delayed so we had a bit of a wait. As usual, we heard him arrive before we saw him! We sat down and he had a look at my blood test results – and then announced in his great voice that I was post-menopausal! He listed some of the symptoms I should be aware of – hot flushes, insomnia, mood swings for example. Well 2 out of 3 ain’t bad – the first 2 are familiar. Dr W2 seemed particularly concerned about hubby J and how he might be endangered by a post menopausal wife! Dr W2 then had a good look at the port, as well as the skin and scarring following radiation. He said that he would flush the port after the appointment. He also said that he would be seeing me every 3 months, and next time he would make a decision about whether to de-port me or not! He prescribed more Tamoxifen and calcium. He was also very pleased that the treatment had gone to plan and that I am on this side of it. Not half as pleased as I am!! He waved us off into the night, with me clutching my precious fitness certificate!
With the delays, it was now nearly 7 pm. I knew I should be heading up to the 5th Floor for port flushing, but I was concerned at how late it was. I was also (more) concerned that for port flushing I would want the magic numbing cream in place and that takes an hour to take effect. I chickened out and asked if I could come in the morning, aware that it meant drawing out the apprehensives but opting for delay nonetheless.
My mood was light when we finally left the hospital, though I knew I would not feel relieved until the flushing was over.
Sure enough, I did not sleep well last night. I had an uncomfortable sense of foreboding, and got up early ready to head for the inevitable. I headed to Counter 2 and was waved on towards the 5th Floor – eek! It was lovely to see the oncology nurses again and they were happy to do the flushing. They seemed a little bored as there were no other patients and I had a vision of 4 nurses all having a go! I waved my magic cream and was told I would have to wait one hour for it to take effect. No problem! Delaying the inevitable and prolonging the agony are fine by me! The cream was applied and I headed down for a snack with a promise to reappear in an hour’s time.
I did not enjoy the tea and snack. I just wanted the flushing to be over. I headed back upstairs reluctantly and was ushered into the treatment room where a clanky trolley was waiting for me. Unable to muster up any more delaying tactics, I lay down and let the nurse prep me for the needle.
The port area has been really tender and I have managed to come up with many alarming possibilities for this to be so, including radiation port melt and port clog from lack of use. The nurse pressed to get the right spot for needle insertion and with a few “oohs” and “ahs” and grimaces I was glad when the needle was in. Except it wasn’t! Another push and I felt it go through the skin this time – OUCH!!
“Good blood return” she told me. Glad to hear it, I thought! So it is not port clog causing the discomfort! She worked away, putting what looked like a syringe of saline through, and then brought another syringe. This was the Heparin to prevent clotting. Within 10 minutes the process was finished and the needle came out with another mild squealy moment.
I was cleaned up, had a plaster put on over the site and within moments was ready to run away.
So now I have a break from the hospital for 3 months, although I will see Dr C at the Cancer Hospital for my radiation check in one month.
I left the hospital, with another task in hand. I had to get the paperwork cleared for us to leave, and then get our tickets issued. What I had not realised is that today is a holiday and that many offices were closed, including the travel agent holding our booking.
It will probably be another restless night hoping that our tickets materialise in the morning as we are scheduled to fly tomorrow night………….. Scotland awaits!