Well, what a weird few weeks I’ve just had!
Three weeks ago I was feeling really healthy (or as fit and healthy as you can feel on chemo ). I had started to get into the routine that this chemo has me on which is chemo on Thursdays, feeling yuck Friday, tired Saturday and Sunday and then pretty good the rest of the week. I had even started to try and improve my fitness by using OD’s Wii Fit and OH and I had started to go for works in the evenings when I was feeling up to it.
On Thursday 21st of January the oncology nurses rung to say my neutrophil count (to do with my white blood cell count – the ability to fight infections) had come back a fraction on the low side but if I wanted to I could come in to the hospital they would repeat the blood test to see if the count had jumped enough overnight for me to continue with chemo that day. My friend CW had offered to take me to chemo that day and so off we went. I had my blood test then we went and had lunch at the hospital cafe while we were waiting for the results. The results weren’t good enough, the count had climbed slightly but not enough for them to risk doing chemo so they sent me home. On the way home we decided to stop off at the mall and do a bit of window shopping, I felt really good and got told off by CW for walking too fast!
On the Friday morning I woke up with a stuffed up nose , Saturday I was more congested, and Sunday likewise. On Monday the 25th the congestion continued and as I was standing at the dining room table sorting through some old bills etc I started to feel very light headed and dizzy . We are advised to ring the Hospital if we are feeling sick so I gave them a ring and they advised me to go in. I expected them to just confirm that I had a head cold and send me home but by the time I got in there (Neice S took me) I was coughing persistantly and was very short of breath. It was the breathlessness they were the most worried about. They admitted me and and did a chest xray that day. It was clear so they then did a CT scan on the Tuesday. They cancelled the outpatient CT scan that I had been scheduled for the following week and combined it with this investigatory one. CT scan also showed nothing wrong with my lungs, – they had been worried about a possible blood clot, or the node behind my ribs growing and possible impacting on my airway – fortunately none of that was seen on the scan.
I was still breathless and coughing so they brought in the respiratory doctors on Wednesday. While the respiratory dr was examining me he recieved a phone call and while he was on the phone I took the opportunity to hop off my bed and go to the toilet. On hearing my coughing fit as I moved and the coughing fit as I got back to bed as he finished his phone call he said to me “That has just given me the diagnosis – I think you have whooping cough” Whooping cough is a notifiable disease in New Zealand and as a contagious disease plans were then quickly made to give me a single room by myself (I had been in a 4 bed ward room)
They changed my antibiotic to one that targets whooping cough and I was told I was going to be in isolation for 5 days. I am just glad I enjoy my own company and that I enjoy reading! The cough was being kept under control by nebulistions given regularly through the oxygen mask.
By Friday boredom was starting to set in. I got OH to bring my laptop up and some DVDs and also organise a mobile broadband modem stick so that I could access my emails and facebook and so I could let more people know what was going on. The nurses ,docors and visitors all had to wear masks while they visited me – it was a slightly surreal situation.
While I was in hospital I got the notification of my acceptance for Uni. They have acknowledged that I have some health issues and I am going to meet with them to, in their words, “sit down with a staff member and plan best how we can manage your progress and engagement with the course” so I am really happy about that.
When my isolation ended before the doctors let me leave hospital they did an echocardiogram of my heart just to check what effect the herceptin was having on it and I’m pleased to say that is looking good too.
They sent me home Tuesday night with instructions not to have any more chemo until I’d had another assessment by my Oncology team (this coming Tuesday) so hopefully it will be back to chemo this coming Thursday after 3 weeks off.
SinceI have been home my cough has subsided and apart from feeling extremely tired and sometimes a bit woozy I have gradually returned to feeling more like myself.
The only other test they are going to do on me in the near future is a brain scan. I have been having quite a lot of bad headaches and although they think they are just stress, chemo and illness related they are wanting to check that there is nothing sinister going on in my brain. I am not allowed to drive until the scan is done and I haven’t got the appointment yet as it is being done as an outpatient procedure. So that is going to be a bit challenging to my independent way of doing things. Luckily friends and family understand the situation and are being helpful in that regard but if Uni starts before I get the all clear I can also just rely on trains and buses.
The ban on driving has made me behave myself this week and have a very quiet week at home since I got home from the hospital and I think I am probably better for it. I just hope I have no more episodes like this one while I am on this chemo