General status update
FEC cycle 6, day 17
Nausea demon: We’re giving him a surprise farewell party tomorrow night, as he starts his new job in Knightsbridge providing Pregnancy Nausea Services to the wife of a Russian oligarch on Monday. He’s spending most of his time in his room now, doing an online Russian course – he’s getting tutorials via Skype from a woman in Smolensk.
Anxiety level/insane euphoria (+/- 1-10,000): wondering if I could persuade them to give me some Dexys with the radiotherapy treatment as well, but thinking that it’s unlikely.
Despair Demon: he’s not going anywhere, of course.
Chemo Muse: busy reading manuals on swimming coaching in preparation for our new project, also starting on Monday. She’s also bought a whistle, which is worrying.
Chemo Brian: currently absorbed in reading about the history of Ayvalik, and trying to get his head round the Greek-Turkish Population Exchange of 1922 – ‘This is HEAVY, man’ – Yes. It was.
Fatigue/weakness: the really interesting question is how far I will be able to swim on Monday, when I get back in the pool for the first time. I used to do 128 lengths (2 miles). No idea what to aim for on Monday. Maybe ‘aiming’ for anything is not a good plan: I’ll just get in the water and see what happens.
State of mind: slowly adjusting to this strange new post-chemo world, as the final cycle draws to an end.
During two weeks out of three, during chemo, the routine was the same most mornings: after being woken at somewhere between 4 and 6 a.m. by nausea, I would get out of bed quietly, so as not to wake R, walk to the other end of the flat and sit down at the dining table to take all my meds: the Ondansetron, Cyclizine and Domperidone for the nausea, the Omeprazole for the stomach pains, the Dexamethasone for everything, and sometimes the Lorazepam for
the anxiety and dread.
The Lorazepam was especially useful on the days when the next dose of chemotherapy drugs was scheduled, to take the edge off the fear and loathing as we walked down the Fulham Palace Road towards Ward 6 East at Charing Cross Hospital, where the latest infusions of the FEC drugs – Fluorouracil, Epirubicin and Cyclophosphamide – were waiting for me in their yellow plastic HAZCHEM bags.
All the boxes of medication were kept piled up on the window sill next to the dining table; I would line them up on the table each morning and take the prescribed dose of each one, washed down with pomegranate juice in a probably futile gesture towards putting something health-giving into my body at the same time as I was ingesting all these drugs to deal with side effects of the toxic FEC trio. This was followed by tea and toast, because you have to take the drugs with food, and the chemo and the Dexys made my body want CARBS.
That was then: this morning I woke at 8, untroubled by nausea, and as I sat at the table a little later it occurred to me that it was time for the drugs to go.
I don’t have to take them anymore.
I gathered up all the packets of pills and put them away in the bathroom cupboard, and the window sill is empty now, except for a small wooden penguin. It’s possible I might need some of them again – radiotherapy treatment can also cause nausea, although probably not on the epic scale of FEC – especially the Omeprazole, because the damage the FEC has done to my stomach may take some time to settle down.
Still, my early morning rendezvous with the Nausea Demon and a heap of pills are now over.
I don’t have to do that anymore; IT’S FINISHED.
Slowly, day by day, FEC is at last starting to let me go, and I'm finally starting to believe that there is life after chemo.