Wow – has my week been full or what!?! As well as starting Uni this week I have had an oncology assessment on Tuesday and vinorelbine/herceptin chemo on Thursday. It has been mentally and physically draining and my mantra for getting through it is “I just have to get through these next few weeks”
The first few days of uni were the worst – it was overwhelming just finding my way round the uni computer systems:
nDeva (where you enrol for classes check schedules and room numbers- I’m still trying to sort out my general education paper for the second semester)
CECIL – not sure what the acronym stands for but if CECIL was a person he would be a cantankerous old gatekeeper standing in the way of you accessing all the resources you need for your course. You need to know how to appease him or do the secret handshake to get into certain areas
EC mail – based on google mail or gmail – I now have another email address as well as our family and and my personal hotmail address I now have a uni email as well – after thinking about it I decided not to get it to forward my uni mail to any of my existing ones as my hotmail is pretty well inundated with IBC related stuff and our family one, although I could create a seperate folder for my uni stuff to download into on our main computer that we have it set up to download to, it means I couldn’t access it off my laptop. So keeping the uni mail seperate makes sense to me.
As well as these main systems to get my head round there is also the library and the information commons systems to understand as well. The information commons is where you can log onto computers and do your assignments or download resources and send to printers. You can load money onto your student ID card that you then swipe at the printers and it will bring up all the documents you have scheduled to print. The printers are much faster than our home inkjet so I will do the majority of printing if I can at Uni. I have decided that I need to print out all the reading resource material because even with my new glasses I find it hard to read a lot of pages at a time off a screen. With a hardcopy printout not only can I read it easier but I can highlight and do notations as necessary. T0 save paper I have printed most of the resource material out 2 of their pages to an A4 page.
I have been proactive in telling people about my situation with ‘Gertrude’ and have also set up a facbook group for our year (1st year BSW 2010) where we can all discuss different aspects of the course. The group of Uni classmates that I have associated with have all been really supportive and will pass on notes and help me if I have to miss any classes due to treatment. I have also been proactive in touching base with all my lecturers both by email and in person so that they know what the situation is and they have all been very supportive as well. It is my hope that I wont have to miss any classes but anybody who has read my blog in the past knows how unpredictable ‘Gertrude’ makes my life.
If you have checked my blog in the last week you will have seen that I have done twitter updates (right hand side of blog) during the week. These were sent from my cellphone while I was on the train. I will probably be using twitter regularly to update my blog during the week then try to do a larger post in the weekend if I have time. I am really loving the train and bus mode of getting to and from Uni – although at times the bus and train can be crowded and standing room only it is still less physically demanding than me trying to drive in peak hour traffic. OH drops me to the train in the morning and picks me up at night and I stay at Uni studying etc so that my arriving back in Papakura is after he arrives home from work. Having none of the kids living at home makes it easier for us to organise a schedule that suits just the two of us.
YD was very upset yesterday when she rang – she has a cold and so was unable to see me like we had planned for this afternoon, so OH took her out for a short while for lunch.
I saw one of Dr H’s registrars on Tuesday and she was happy for me to go ahead with the brain scan just for peice of mind. I have booked it for the 18th of March which is supposed to be my chemo- free week although i am a little concerned whether or not that will actually be the case. Since my stay in hospital my neurophils (the white blood cell count that they gauge whether or not I can have chemo) have been as follows
11 Feb neutrophils 4.5 (nicely in the middle of the normal range of 2-8) so was allowed my vinorelbine/herceptin combo
18 Feb – 1.66 (only just within limits – they wont give chemo below 1.5) then given my vinorelbine dose on its own
24 Feb – 0.5 (far too low for chemo) which is why I am missing 3rd week
4 March 1.55 (again only just within limit) given vinorelbine/herceptin combo
I am worried that the neutrophils will be too low next week for me to have my week 2 dose. I won’t know until I have had my blood test on Wednesday and the hospital has the results on Thursday. It makes it very hard to plan. I may end up missing this next week and then having chemo the following week thus having brain scan and chemo on same day. I don’t particularly want that but can’t do much about that.
I have a gap between my lecture and tutorial on Wednesdays that I have to fit my bloodtest into – the easiest lab to get to is in the CBD and I can make it there and back on the bus with plenty of time. I need to have it every Wednesday even if its not a chemo Thursday just so they can track how low my neutrophils are going.
As I say to people the good news about what the chemo does to my white blood cell count it also seems to be doing to the cancer, and that is what keeps me going.
The other thing that happened this week that made it busier than usual was that SisH and M were over from Melbourne this weekend to visit friends and family and organised to get together with me and SisM for afternoon tea yesterday – they had been to see SisF in Tauranga and she decided at the last minute to make the two hour trip up just for afternoon tea. It was lovely seeing everyone. Only Bro and SisT were missing but it was a bit far for them to come (from Christchurch and Brisbane respectively) just for a couple of hours LOL. It was a little poignant as this weekend was also the 6th anniversary of our Mum’s death.
Oh well, I suppose I had better get back to my study – got three readings to do for tomorrow and two for Tuesday
Look for another long missive next weekend, but keep an eye on the twitter updates in the mean time.