I completed session 2 yesterday and the actual session seemed a little harder than the first one while the immediate after effects during the evening were definitely lighter. Also seemed like a longer day as we arrived at 12.30pm and left around 6.30pm.
A lovely Irish nurse was assigned to me and of course I quizzed her about a whole range of things from hair loss to side effects to drug dosage etc. We started off with the cannula and it took her quite a while to get into the vein. Ouch. So after probing around for a bit, it was finally in and I’m still very happy that I chose this process instead of some permanent PICC line, even if it hurt a little. Next up she took some blood to see if all is good to proceed and put a bag of saline into the drip for hydration. Blood tests came back all fine with white blood cells at 4.9. They were 5 before cycle one of the chemo, so all good. Interesting though to see that at the time they call the ‘major dip’ the count was 12.9 – clearly instigated by the injection to boost white blood cells 24 hours after the chemo. So my normal, natural value is around 5. I’ve been told to give myself the same injection again today at 3.3pm.
Then it was time for the ice cap and wow – it was painful this time round. I think the fit was slightly tighter (mainly due to me wrapping an extra scarf around it as well which made me look like a ninja fighter). It also felt like the cap sat lower down towards the forehead. I was prepared for the first 10 minutes but these first 10 minutes were much worse than last time round. I almost ripped the whole thing off within minutes but then distracted myself, talking with Mati and with thoughts of warm sunshine on my head.
After around 10 minutes it got easier again but never quite as easy as last time. The nurse said it could be a number of reasons including general state of emotional or physical strength (tiredness etc.). She then injected the red epirubicin slowly over half an hour and I visualised sweet, sticky fruit juice going into my veins targeting only what it has to and leaving the rest of me alone. A little while later, the cyclophosphamide followed over half an hour through a drip and we were done. Apparently they upped the dose of the cyclophosphamide due to a slight increase in my body weight – from 59k when I started to 60.4kg. Seems a bit odd for that little weight change but to be fair the dosage increase was minimal. I don’t think the weight change had anything to do with treatments as I can easily swing 2kgs up and down within a week depending on the amount of exercise and the type of food I eat. This week’s food intake leading up to treatment wasn’t exactly the best. Aside from daily juices, quite a bit of junk food at work events (greasy fried chicken, chips etc.) which I didn’t really have much choice about.
I asked about drowsiness I had last time round and whether or not some of the anti-sickness drugs could have been causing that. Their answer was that it’s likely to be from the chemo itself. I have a feeling it’s probably a combination of that and the frozen head from the cold cap.
Dr. Cleator popped in for a few minutes to see how I was doing and we chatted briefly. I also met a lovely woman who was sitting across from me with her daughter. She must have been in her 60s and her daughter a little younger than me. They’re both from Malta and travelled into London yesterday just for the treatment and were flying back the same evening. I think the last place I would want to be in straight afterwards is on a plane but maybe her medication is different. We talked about travel and Malta and they showed me some guides from the in-flight magazine. They then shared their contact details with me and asked me to look them up if I ever visit Malta and they would show me around. Very sweet.
Journey home was pretty uneventful apart from the usual London transport shenanigans. Similar to last time, as and when I got home I started to feel more drowsy and slightly nauseous. But nowhere near as bad as last time. Instead, I had a headache, very heavy eyes and a super cold head and with that a cold nose and slightly cold feet. I put that down to the cold cap. Managed to eat a bit of plain pasta and a few crackers before going to sleep. Slept pretty well and woke up feeling fine, slightly tired but good energy and some appetite. It’s now 1pm and I’m still feeling fine. I took the anti-emetics cocktail with breakfast as a prophylactic measure more than any other reason as I haven’t felt nauseous today. Long may it continue! Feels good to pass the halfway line!