|New Cancer Centre|
We arrived back at the hospital just after two - but there was an even bigger queue for the Oncology car park, so we parked a little further away. It was a pretty mild day and it was nice to get some fresh air and have a bit of a walk.
This time we went upstairs to where Ward 202 is located. On the stairs on the way up there were some great local paintings - a little like Lowry's but with pot banks. They were huge and colourful.
There was a central waiting room upstairs with a reception desk. They seemed confused when I said I had an appointment - so I had to produce my letter to prove it! It turns out that they had made an appointment for me on Friday but then couldn't get hold of me. We checked phone numbers and they were correct so I'm not sure what happened. Anyway, Wendy my special nurse was there and sorted it out.
We were called in to see Dr Gahir, who shook our hands and asked me how I was. She thought I looked well! She said she'd discussed my case with another colleague and they had decided that they had to make sure this cancer is gone. So they are going to give me chemotherapy alongside the radiotherapy. It will help the radiotherapy to work better. It seems that you only get once chance to have radiotherapy so they have to make sure that they cover everything. This is why they are going to do it on both sides on my neck in quite a big area. This means that it will definitely make my throat too sore for swallowing - so they are going to arrange for me to have the tube into my stomach.
The chemo will be given in two doses. One on my first day of radiotherapy and the next halfway through. So on 19th March I will go downstairs for my radiotherapy, then will come upstairs to the Chemotherapy Suite to spend the rest of the day in a chair with a drip. It takes most of the day because they have to spend the first and last two hours putting fluids through you. One to prepare you for the drugs and the last to flush you out after the drugs have gone in.
She said it will make me sick, but they'll give me some anti-sickness medicine. It may make my hair thinner but it won't all fall out. I have to be very careful not to get any kind of infection during this time, as it could be dangerous as chemo destroys white blood cells and other good stuff along with the evil cancer cells. So, they will issue me with a thermometer and I will have to take my temperature every day. If it is ever raised, indicating an infection, I will have to go into hospital.
I signed the consent form and they said I could now have the Understanding Chemotherapy handbook for my collection. :-)
Before I left I solved the mystery of Dr Gahir.
I have seen Dr Gahir the lady doctor, whereas Nigel - who commented on my blog and told me his story - saw Dr Gahir who he insisted is a man! I asked her and she said that there ARE two of them, both have the same initial too D - and he is her husband :-) She said she worked there for six months before he did - but since he arrived there has been a lot of confusion. On his first day all her clinic appointments disappeared from her computer.
She gave me two forms, one for a blood test that I need to get done at the Pathology Lab just before I start the therapies and another for me to collect a recepticle from the lab so that I can collect my urine for 24 hours. This is because chemo can damage the kidneys so they have to check out how healthy they are before you start. So I need to take this back into the lab (suitable filled) on the day I get my bloods done.
Also I have to go back on Saturday, for a pre-assessment, at 12.30.
Also before all this kicks off I have to get my "peg" put in. This is the feeding tube. When we got out of the doctor's office I asked Wendy what this entailed. I had just presumed that they'd just poke a hole in from the outside.
What it involves is going into hospital for an overnight stay, they get you to swallow a tube with a camera on the end, once you've managed that, they sedate you so that they can get it into position. Then they make an incision and feed it out from within. This is then taped to your stomach so that no-one can see it. They then keep an eye on you overnight to make sure it "settles down". That doesn't sound too pleasant.
After that I will see a Nutritionist every week so that she can decide whether I am managing to eat enough to maintain my weight. If not then I have to pour stuff down the tube. Not sure what kind of stuff - I guess they'll tell me when the time comes!
So I came out in a bit of a daze with a huge list of appointments and forms for all these various things. It will take me a while to get my head around all this. We did have a laugh when we got to the path lab and collected the receptacle - it was just a plastic carton with a screw top lid, the kind you get white spirit in from B&Q. They suggested that I buy a funnel. I'm going to have to get a bigger mug for my tea if they want it filling to the top. :-)
It's going to be an interesting few weeks....