Breast cancer, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Taxotere, Women's Health

The Long Weekend Hospital Retreat

And so it was that I got my first infection and spent the entire long weekend at the hospital.

It all started on Friday night. The aching and tiredness from Tuesday’s chemo had started to kick in so I went to bed at 10pm after watching a bit of telly. As usual, I took my temperature before going to bed and was very surprised to see the thermometer register 37.7 – especially as I felt very cold. My normal temperature is around 36.5 and I knew anything above 37.5 was dangerous for me, but I felt fine and my parents were out anyway so I decided to sleep for a while and see what happened.

By the time my parents got in at 11:30pm, my temperature had risen to 38.6 so we called the chemo hotline. Unfortunately, as I suspected, I was told to go straight to hospital, so I reluctantly got out of bed and started packing my night bag. The problem was my parents had been out for dinner and had had a drink, so they couldn’t take me to the hospital. We would have to a call a taxi to take us the hour-and-a-bit journey to Manchester.

15 minutes later, the taxi came. The taxi driver hadn’t been informed that he needed to take us all the way to Manchester. And he didn’t know how to get there. Nor did he have a sat nav. So he took us back to his taxi rank to pick up his sat nav, and then we sat by the side of the road for 15 minutes while he worked out how to use it. After asking us the postcode 27 times, he eventually set off. Then we stopped for petrol. Then we set off again… With a seemingly defective sat nav that was hell-bent on making us “Turn right!” against every other indication that we obviously needed to go straight on.

Fearing we might end up in London, I was relieved when finally, almost two hours later, Mum and I arrived at the hospital. Then we got lost trying to find the ward. Eventually I got settled in a private room at about 2am and thus commenced a long night of being prodded and poked as three different nurses tried to get blood out of my uncooperative veins, doctors were called and finally I was hooked up to an antibiotic drip for the night. Although the only symptom was my high temperature, I have an infection, which, during chemo, can be very serious indeed, so I’m glad I didn’t just go back to sleep and ignore it, like I wanted to.

The first night was pretty rubbish and I didn’t get a wink of sleep. I felt freezing cold and had a splitting headache. My mum (the poor thing – already keeling over from her no-sugar diet) fashioned a makeshift boat out of a couple of chairs and slept across them. It didn’t look very comfy. It was a bit like sleeping in the jungle with all the sounds going on in my room. The frog ribbitting in the next room, the whirring drip machine that sounds like an army of centipedes walking all over me… I am fully prepared for the start of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here tonight…

My room is like Piccadilly Circus, with at least 12 new faces passing through every hour – “I’ve come to take your blood,” “I’ve come to take your observations,” “I’ve come to bring you a weighing scales,” “Would you like something to eat?” “Have you finished with that food?” “Can I clean your room now?” “Can we steal your sofa?” Etc etc…

I’ve been in the hospital two days now and won’t be leaving any time soon as my white blood cells are still too low, meaning I’m very vulnerable to more infection. But fortunately I’ve learnt many a thing and conquered many a phobia since I’ve been here:

1. I can now walk around with my drip machine attached to me without falling over/tripping over my own cord
2. I can brush my teeth with my left hand
3. I can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner one-handledly
4. I can also type with one hand, though it is verrrry slow
5. I can get a night’s sleep without worrying about the tubes attached to my hand
6. I even managed to have a shower with the thing attached to my hand (but disconnected from the machine)

(Sorry there are no pictures today – technology not permitting, I’m afraid.)

You may be wondering how the no-sugar diet is going in all this. Well, I’m proud to say I’m now on day 10 with no sugar. And before you wonder whether the shock diet plan led to my hospitalisation, I can happily say the nurse assured me it has nothing to do with it and she’s also a firm believer in such nutritional plans and said many cancer patients take on a raw diet… I can’t say I am not tempted by some of the puddings on offer at meal times though, and I also did experience a slight sugar high from my cocoa butter lip balm earlier. Desperate times…

Well, this was the first blog post brought to you from the Christie hospital, and here’s hoping it’ll be the last!

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5 thoughts on “The Long Weekend Hospital Retreat

  1. Bryan Foat says:

    Sorry to hear you are hitting a rough patch. But, as usual, you seem to be dealing with it very well – even with the bewildered and befuddled taxi-driver! Focus on the finish line and how you are getting closer and closer to it with each passing day. You are much closer to the finish line than the staring line at this point… just knowing that the end is near- maybe around the corner and out of sight still, but near just the same -can bring a new wave of energy and strength, optimism, etc necessary to pack in the last few days/weeks and the one last (yeah!) round of chemo, frosty fingers and feet, etc. Hang in there. 😉

  2. annamccormick84 says:

    Hi Laura, I started reading your blog a few days ago when googling the difference between FEC and Taxotere side effects. I’m so glad I did. I’m currently going through this journey with my Mum who had her first dose of Taxotere alongside herceptin on wednesday, having undergone 3 rounds of FEC.
    She is also having the white blood cell boosting vaccinations after being admitted to hospital after her first chemo session with a virtually non existant neuts count.
    This evening, five days after the chemo she’s just been admitted to hospital again with an infection – I took her temperature this afternoon and it was 38.08 so everything went into action stations. Fortunately she’s only 2 minutes walk from the hospital here in Southend so she hasn’t suffered quite the same ordeal as you.
    Her story is quite similar to yours and I directed her to your blog straight away – we’ve both really enjoyed reading your entries and been hugely encouraged by your positive attitude.
    I really hope you’re feeling better after the antibiotics get to work soon. Please keep telling us your story when you feel able. Sending lots of love and best wishes. Anna x

    • Hi Anna, thanks for getting in touch, it’s so good to know that you found my blog through googling it so I know I’m helping others in some way by sharing my experience!
      I think it’s unusual to go through all the cycles of chemo without getting an infection so for both you mum and I, I think it’s very normal. Also if it’s any help, one of the nurses told me this morning that one of the doctors told her he thinks the people who come through with just these barely-any-symptoms infections and low neutrophils are actually the ones who are doing well, so that’s something positive!
      Hopefully we’ll both be well in no time. And your mum should be done with chemo by Christmas too, right? I hope so. Best wishes to you both and sending your mum lots of strength for the next few rounds! Laura xx

  3. Liz Walker says:

    Hi Chick,

    Wooow sounds like a busy weekend, that taxi drive sounded hard work, your in the right place though

    Well done with sticking with the no suger diet

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