Archives for posts with tag: infection

My father, who doesn’t read this blog, suggested the most excellent title of today’s post on account of the fact that I spent the last 24 hours or so performing my toileting activities into a cardboard bowl so that the hospital could ‘measure how much I am passing’. This would have been vaguely bearable were it not for the fact that they were pumping several litres of saline into my veins, causing me to need the loo at least once an hour. I’m not sure what the nurses did with each cardboard bedpan every time they took it out of my bathroom… I have visions of them pouring the contents into a massive glass measuring cylinder, like they do on that programme Supersize vs Superskinny where they compare what a morbidly obese person eats in an average week compared with that of an anorexic person… Either way, my Dad was greatly amused by the proceedings.

Thankfully, the cardboard box experience is now safely behind me as I was released from my hospital quarantine this afternoon and am finally back home with a course of oral antibiotics. It was a humbling four-day experience that gave me new-found respect and sympathy for anyone who spends a decent amount of time living in a hospital. I am incredibly lucky to have spent time in a five-star private suite of one of the best hospitals in the country but even that was bad enough – the amount of freedom you lose and the things you have to do can really make you appreciate life outside the hospital.

Having grown men in suits come into your room while you’re lying in bed in your PJs, tangled up in your own sweaty bed sheets with sleep in your eyes is not the most dignified feeling in the world – nor is having your shit taken out in a box by various different strangers at regular intervals! Ditto having your food cut up by your Mum and having to buzz every five minutes for someone to come and perform the simplest of tasks for you, like taking the cap off a bottle of water so you can drink it. Getting body lotion out of a tiny bottle using just one hand was also a tricky task that resulted in me splurting it all over the bathroom wall, impressively managing to even splash it above my own head height. I am not sure what the cleaner thought I had been doing that particular day.

Last night the temperature was so tropical in my room I felt like I was abroad so I slept on top of my sheets on my plastic mattress. It reminded me of the time on my gap yah in January 2001 when six of us slept atop rubber mattresses in 40-degree heat with one tiny ceiling fan for ventilation in the Hotel Marajó in Rio de Janeiro’s Lapa district – at that time still the red light district. Both then and last night I woke up covered in similar amounts of sticky sweat, I can assure you. (Jo, Amy, Alex, Alice, Howie and Chanty, I am literally thrilled to have found a photo of the exact room the girls slept in for almost a month – I’m sure you’ll all enjoy reminiscing. Remember the breakfast?!)

I grew rather attached (literally) to the machine-on-a-pole that fed me drugs and saline on an intravenous drip night and day. So much so that, yesterday morning, I had a horrific nightmare where I was travelling up a slow-moving conveyer belt with a Russian man standing by my side, only the Russian man was actually my machine-on-a-pole and it had Hannibal Lecter’s head! As you can imagine, I woke up dripping with sweat and grinding my teeth ferociously after that one.

The same morning I had several other nightmares, including one in which I woke up and all the nurses suddenly dragged my hospital bed out into the corridor towards an operating theatre and wouldn’t tell me what was going on, which was particularly traumatic. All these nightmares were probably the result of eating an enormous cheese board before bedtime – which I only did because I couldn’t have a sweet dessert due to this flamin’ no-sugar diet!

Speaking of which, Horror of Horrors! I found out the little monkeys at the hospital were spiking my porridge with sugar!!! I know, right? No wonder it tasted so good. How dare they? I hear you ask. So, well, obviously I have inadvertently cheated but I think I’ll let myself off since clearly I had no control over the matter. Other than that minor indiscretion, the no-sugar diet is still going strong.

Anyway, I’m glad that chapter’s over. I could barely move my hand for two hours after the cannula (needle-tube thingie) was finally removed from it after four days and the skin on my fingers is all peeling off and my veins are all sore and painful. Apart from that, I feel right as rain, but I’m in desperate need of some pampering and resting for the next few days! Home sweet home, I shall never take you for granted again.

This blog post is dedicated to Helen Morecroft, my childhood best friend and co-executive-editor on a little publication you may never have heard of called the Toilet Roll Special (Circulation: one) that we used to edit, circa 1990. (We had a strong sense of toilet humour from a remarkably early age).

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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