Friday, 27 November 2009

Admitted and first chemo!

Just a quick post to say that I was admitted today. I have been blessed with a private room with:

a) TV
b) DVD Player
c) Computer + Webcam
d) Broadband Internet
e) Fridge

... everything I need! Actually I'm amazed with the facilities here. Having internet in my room will be a lifeline I suspect....

They had to put a semi-permanent line into my arm to allow them to take stuff out (eg blood) and put stuff in (eg chemo). This was a reasonably painless experience but psychologically its a bit freaky having a port hanging out of your arm. My arm's a bit sore, but it's not too bad.

They also took my blood and showed me how viscous it is - this is apparently due to all the bad ugly leukemia cells clogging up my blood. To be honest, this is also the first time that I genuinely admitted to myself that I have leukemia. Prior to that it was an invisible enemy that everyone said I had but for which I had seen no first-hand proof. In fact, just before I was admitted, I sat down with one of the doctors and asked him again whether he was 100% sure that I had leukemia and that it wasn't all a mistake. I suspect this kind of denial is common in this situation, but seeing how weird my blood tonight really made me a believer!

I also had my first round of chemo tonight. I am on a course called 'DA 10+3' which means I take Daunorubicin for 3 days and Cytarabine in parallel for 10 days. Daunorubicin comes in a big syringe and is bright red and is a bit off-putting as it is being administered into you. The problem is that they set up a saline IV drip and then push the Daurnorubicin (find it hard spelling this) into the saline flow to dilute it. The IV machine doesn't like this because if the pressure in the line gets too high it thinks it is blocked and shuts down. Therefore the machine keeps beeping alerts as it is administered and I get worried that undiluted Daurnorubicin is flowing into my body. As it happens, I have been told that this isn't really a problem anyway so not to worry about it. I'm being told not to worry about a lot of things and to be honest, I am doing my best not to do so.

I have no control here and I have to trust everything and everyone around me. Not used to that situation, but there is no value in worrying or stressing about a situation you cannot control.

I also learnt that 'having chemo' isn't that bad (as long as you don't have an infusion or allergic reaction which I fortunately didn't). At least in my case it was ok - the IV push feels a bit cold for both the chemos, but I didn't feel anything. The cytarabine is a clear liquid that might as well have been saline to me. So getting chemo isn't bad. Instead, its the side-effects that follow administration of chemo and the risk of infection during the your periods of low white blood count that make it difficult (apparently 90% of patients will get an infection on each round of chemo).

So ... fingers crossed I don't have too bad side effects and that I have minimal infections!

(Written retrospectively)

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