Hot flushes - bloody hot flushes, all very well and good when you are out in the cold and the snow, but normally they only happen when your in the warm or tucked up in bed. However, today I felt one coming on and as luck would have it we went out for a walk all dressed up for battle with the snow, I grabbed hubby's hand and tugged him out the door with a " Quick quick I'm having a hot flush" which was great as it lasted me in the cold for ages, but believe me that doesn't normally happen. Since November I have been having them and unfortunately whilst having treatment I am unable to take anything for them. I try to ensure I have a cold drink close by, but this just means constant trips to the loo. Oh well....
Anyway, after a nearly uneventful PICC line being popped in at Addenbrooks on Wednesday. Well I say uneventful, I was quite nervous about having this done but like every procedure I've had this is the conversation me and hubby have in the car on route. Him to me " Nervous?" Me " No I have just blocked it out, what do you fancy for tea tonight?" Then we discuss what we fancy to eat and generally have a laugh. When we got there after a short wait we were booked in and I was given a wrist tag - a day procedure? I immediately had my stubborn head on and whispered to hubby that there was no way was I hanging about here all day. I was shown through to a ward called Recovery and disappointment slumped like a rock in my stomach. I whispered to Andrew " I was expecting to be in and out, why are all these people asleep in beds?"
All pretty soon the lovely Administer Radiographer came along and explained everything to us - again I signed my life away and after donning another gorgeous gown. Which looked rather fetching with my new high heeled boots. We got down to business, off we went to theatre where as always, I did as I was told. I laid down stretched out my arm and cleared my mind. It was all very clinical and apart from the local aesthetic going in a vein where I said " Erm sorry but I'm in a lot of pain, I'm having bad hot cramp like pins and needles going up and down my arm" " Is it going numb?" she enquired " Err no its bloody killing me" I calmly said. So she looked on the ultra scan and immediately took it out- relief - telling me that she had hit a nerve bed. I laughed. She then tried again elsewhere, again jab with the local, but this time I felt fine. I didn't look as she threaded the line into the needle. Incidentally she measured me up beforehand across the arm and round to just above my heart - where the line would sit, so she knew how long it was and where she should push it to. There was a little bit of tugging and then she was away. I suppose the whole procedure took around half and hour, in the meantime we chatted like I do to everyone who gives me a procedure - about our families.Then there was lots of mopping of blood and it was all finished. She asked me if I wanted to lie down in Recovery, I looked at her and she said " I guess not" Then she sent me down for X Ray to see if the line had been threaded into place correctly. After a bit of a wait, in a crowded waiting area where I looked fantastic in my gown and coat and high heels. I had the X Ray and went back upstairs. After around 10 minutes I was told everything was fine. Given a discharge letter, and one for Bedford Primrose unit. Then I was out of there and off to lunch with the in laws- lovely.
So now I have a perfect working PICC line which apart from the fact that I have to have it flushed through every week at the hospital. I can't take a shower and have to wash my hair over the bath before I gingerly sit in it, with my arm wrapped in cling film. However, it's great because any other injections, blood tests or fluids that I need to have they just have to unscrew the top and away they go. I'll have this in until May, and obviously it comes with a strict set of instructions regarding infection etc. but apart from a few twinges and a tiny bit of discomfort its all good so far.
The 1st Chemo yesterday was a strange experience to begin with. When we got there we waited nearly two hours before my cocktail of drugs turned up, but I was fed and watered and generally looked after. I did comment to hubby that it looked like God's waiting room.However, my nurse Helen was lovely and we had a great laugh, she spent a great deal of time with me explaining everything in detail. Hubby and I listened in awe and confusion. So much information to take in. As she told me everything she kept popping in drug after drug after drug. Half was through I was busting for a wee, so after a movement of furniture and me dragging the machine I was hooked up to I managed to get there in time - " Oh by the way" she cried out to me, " Your wee will be red. It was, thank god she had told me beforehand!
Suddenly the room started filling up and I recognised the lady next to me, she came from the same town as I, she was there along with her sister. Double mastectomy and her first lot of chemo as well. She had been up to the wig fitting room and ordered three different wigs, " so her husband could have a different woman every night" we laughed, and things settled down. I felt very comfy - especially when a lovely heat cushion and a blanket was wrapped round me.
My Breast nurse Rachel popped in and then went in search of my scan results. I told her that as I had received a letter I would be going to the "Keeping Abreast" meetings that were starting next Tuesday night. She sent Alison another Breast nurse who was organising these meetings, around to have a chat to me. Was I prepared to be a flasher? Damn right I was. If flashing my breast and talking to other woman who've been or, are about to go through a mastectomy and have decided to go for a reconstruction. I would happily flash all day every day if it gave some one back their confidence like it has me. While we were chatting I also told her what I did as a stylist, and how I could provide free master classes in dressing to boost all these incredibly brave women. She was over the moon to have me on board, and we talked about fashion shows etc. So exciting stuff.
Rachel came back and told me my bone scan results were not in but the CT scan seemed to be clear. I was to call on Tuesday where I could find out for sure.
Helen came back over with two large bags of drugs and a yellow needle bucket. She explained to me about the eight boxes of drugs I had to take every day and gave me a sheet of paper with the instructions on them. Along with some injections for my palettes that have to go into my stomach - which I decided to do myself and not bother the district nurse.
So there I was armed with all this medication and knowledge. Thank god hubby was there. On the way out I was asked to speak to another lady about reconstruction. She showed me her fantastic wig that she was wearing, and she told me that she had not had a reconstruction and she had had both breasts taken away 6 years ago. I asked the nurse to draw the curtains and I flashed her my boob. I talked about the "Keeping Abreast" meeting and asked her to come. I told her quite a few of us would be flashing our breasts and she could see what all the reconstructions look like. She was very interested. So I hope she will come as I think it will give her some much needed confidence.
On the way out I cuddled and kissed everyone and told them I will see them all again for my line flush each week and my chemo in three weeks. I almost felt sorry to leave this lovely warm place, where the nurses were constantly laughing and joking and it was all hustle and bustle with all the comings and goings. For the first time I didn't feel that I was alone in my battle.
As I sit here typing now I am waiting for bad stuff to happen to my body - which no doubt it will, I have been out and stocked up on good food, fruit and vegetables, bought a new toothbrush and moisturised myself to within a inch of my life. I've got a fantastic new wig turned up, I got some nice false eye lashes that are very similar to my own, and templates for new eyebrows. So I am going to make sure I really look after myself as much as I can. At the moment I am having a sick feeling - not all the time. More hot flushes then usual and a headache. So when I do get worst I think I am more than prepared.
I think I am becoming Stronger........and I am becoming proud of myself. Even so roll on May.