Life has a funny way of reminding you that you are never really the one in control. Just when you least expect it, the wheels are coming off and you are careering into that ditch.
I had ended cycle 2 on an absolute high. The side effects had subsided and on some days I barely felt ill. I was even starting to remember what normal felt like again. We had a day trip to St Malo where I had feasted on cake and walked the city walls. We had enjoyed glorious sunshine and family had come to stay. I was living life to the full and cancer was being pushed into the shadows.
I was also plodding again and loving the headspace that it was giving me. Spurred on by how great I felt, I signed up for the Cancer Research UK race in Jersey. This was my chance to do something positive. A way of raising money for a great cause.
Starting Cycle 3
I started cycle 3 and yes, the side effects were there. My legs went on the stairs, the pins and needles were agonising, but I still felt fairly able. I didn’t feel too tired. I was determined. I carried on going about my life as normal. Perhaps that’s where I went wrong.
I had my chemo infusion on Thursday and by Monday I was feeling a little bit peaky but nothing massively untoward. I didn’t really feel hungry and I forced some lunch down. By the evening the nausea was rising and I took an anti-sickness drug as a precaution. I didn’t want dinner and managed just one mouthful. I went to bed as I just wanted to sleep.
However, I couldn’t get warm. I was under layers and layers of blankets, wearing a hoody and cuddling a hot water bottle but I still felt cold. Mr C said that I was burning up but I wouldn’t have it. I started demanding a bath. We don’t have a bath, just two shower rooms. I fully intend to add a bath once I’m over this cancer. I ached all over and I couldn’t stop shivering.
Where Were My Comedy Sidekicks?
Then I started vomiting and once I started I couldn’t stop. Mr C ran around trying to catch sick whilst gently ushering me into the bathroom. But it wasn’t just the vomiting that I had to contend with. Remember that scene from the film Bridesmaids? The one where they have all eaten at a dodgy restaurant, they are in the middle of a dress fitting when all of a sudden they all start vomiting and sh*tting at the same time. That was me, without the comedy sidekicks and the nice dress. I didn’t know what to do with myself. In the end, Mr C had to sit me on the toilet with a sick bowl. Who said romance was dead, eh?
The next morning I was feeling better and Mr C rang the hospital who asked him to come in for a prescription of anti-sickness drugs. However, on arrival he found himself on the receiving end of a mild bollocking for not bringing me into hospital during the night. I slept for most of the day, and felt rotten. As the afternoon came round I felt like I was going downhill and a temperature check showed that my temperature was spiking again.
A Night In Hospital
A call to the hospital and I was told to come in to the EAU (Emergency Admissions Unit). I loathe hospitals, they give me flashbacks to the births of both my children. Both did not go to plan and were fairly traumatic. I was not happy about going in. I found myself on a ward with 3 other beds which were all occupied. To my left was an elderly lady who had been suffering with back problems for 2 months. Directly opposite me was a gentleman who had clearly been there before and was quite the pro when it came to getting discharged and next to him was another lady who had clearly been there a few times before.
I was asked a long list of questions before I had my blood pressure checked and temperature taken (which had now dropped back down, and as a result, I felt like a complete fraud for being there), swabs, urine test and a blood test. I’m used to having my bloods taken. I feel like I have them taken on an almost weekly basis but something went wrong this time. The nurse was quite aggressive with how she jabbed my right hand. I saw Mr C wince and then go pale as I realised that blood was spurting everywhere. I suddenly felt nauseous and the room started to tilt and I had to lay down.
I was desperate to get home. I found the hospital bed uncomfortable and I just wanted my own bed and pillow. Eventually I was told that my bloods showed that I had picked up a bacterial injection and as a result I would need to spend the night in hospital hooked up to a IV line of antibiotics. I wasn’t best pleased but then I realised that there was no point in getting upset. Hospital was the best place for me.
It Wasn’t A Spa Break
What followed was a night of little sleep. I had to be careful how I moved my hand because I was hooked up to an IV line, I couldn’t sleep because I was aware of people around me. I listened to a podcast and tried to pretend that I was at home, but it wasn’t working. At 2am I had my blood pressure taken and not long after I was taken off the IV drip. I was very relieved when morning finally rolled around.
To cut a long story short, I was told that I would need to stay in again but eventually it was agreed I could be discharged with some hefty antibiotics if I promised to report back to the ward the next day for more bloods. What followed was a week of me in and out of hospital constantly having my blood taken.
It was a rough couple of weeks. The antibiotics and chemo drugs caused havoc with my stomach and I spent far too much time in the toilet. I felt ghastly and my mind would go to some dark places. Was the chemo working? Could I do this? What if this was a sign that the cancer was winning? It knocked me back a bit, made me take stock and it was a stark reminder of how cancer has turned my life upside down. However, this was just a blip and it could have been a lot worse.
Before I became ill the plan had been to go to back to England to see family. Even with the cancer diagnosis I still planned to go ahead with the trip. However, me being ill made us question whether it was sensible and, reluctantly, we cancelled the visit. Dealing with cancer can feel very isolating, and living on Jersey, a small island, can heighten those feelings of isolation. I’ve found myself feeling homesick for Yorkshire. I am missing the fact that I can’t jump in the car and drive to somewhere new. It can make you feel claustrophobic. However, mostly I am grateful that I am on Jersey. I can’t fault my medical care and how quickly they cracked on with my chemo. Plus, when the sun is shining, there is no place I would rather be.
I’m now on my week off chemo tablets and I’m pleased to say that I am feeling more normal again. I’ve started gently plodding as I’m preparing for the Cancer Research Race for Life (if you would like to donate you can do so here), I’m also gearing up for the next cycle. To say that I am dreading it would be a massive understatement as during this cycle I have my next set of scans. There is a lot riding on those scans. However, I’m hoping that this will be my last cycle for a while and hopefully, it will be a good one.
Wish me luck.