Tip Top Tip… heat is great for pain! The rest of the world probably already knows this but I only discovered it about ten weeks ago after surgery when I was so maxed out on painkillers that I couldn’t be given any more. One of the nurses suggested a heat pack and it worked a treat. The reason I bring this up is because I finally started my first chemotherapy session yesterday and boy did I need a heat pack! This is me all hooked up and ready for my first ever chemotherapy session.
Terry (hubbie) came along with me just incase I had some sort of explosive reaction to the drugs and would need to be driven home. We arrived early to the Oncology day unit at Saint Vincent’s Private Hospital and helped ourselves to a nice coffee at reception. Everyone seemed relaxed and friendly… so far so good. I had been the previous day for an education session with one of the oncology nurses. She explained that my treatment would consist of twenty four sessions and would last for six months. She then patiently went through a list of about a trillion horrendous possible side effects to look out for and casually threw in “oh and you can’t colour your hair” before continuing with her mammoth list. Hold on a minute now, back it up there a little “I can’t colour my hair… for six months?!”
Now I have to come clean here… I’m far too vain to be caught out on this one. I’m lucky, I’ve been told I won’t lose my hair but not colouring my hair for the next six months would quite simply mean not leaving the house… ever! On the advice of a family friend who went through chemotherapy several years ago I researched organic hair products and a Danish brand called Naturigin was recommended.I’ve already tried it out ahead of chemo and it’s fine (I’ll let you ladies know how I get on over the coming weeks as I colour my hair during treatment). So anyway, hair colouring crisis averted and no need to hibernate for six months.
Back to the heat packs. Aine my nurse mentioned I’d need a heat pack. Once I was all hooked up and my chemotherapy infusion began (they call it an infusion, basically it’s a drip!) I realised why. One of the side effects of my particular drug is it’s painful at the cannula site (where the needle goes in!) and heat packs are super for helping with the pain. I could tell you how constipation is the other main side effect and that several days later I ended up with chronic stomach pain as a result… but you probably don’t want to hear about that. Pain that was completely debilitating and almost worse than the pain I experienced after surgery except this time without the morphine… but you don’t want to hear any of that either. Apart from all of this the first session went quite well. Terry and I had planned to have a romantic lunch together afterwards but didn’t have time in the end so picked up a takeaway pizza on the way home!
Later that evening we went to our son Dylan’s graduation presentation from primary school. I had been concerned about how I’d feel after the first chemo session that same day but I was absolutely fine. This was an evening I couldn’t afford to miss as I was heartbroken having missed his confirmation day several months earlier when I was in hospital. The graduation evening was really special, it was emotional and bittersweet. Dylan and his school friends all looking so grown up, sad to be leaving yet ready to fly. They’re well prepared for secondary school.
And so, first chemotherapy session successfully completed… check. Duties fulfilled at son’s graduation… check. Last day at school tomorrow before summer break, all that’s left now is to organise pressies for our childminder. I’ve already mentioned in a previous post that Dylan has quite a talent for art so I framed one of his artpieces as a gift… ta dah!
Tip Top Tip… parental duties and framing artwork are a great distraction from chemotherapy! I’ve survived my first ever chemotherapy session and it honestly feels like the greatest achievement, I feel like a champion! If like me you’re facing into a course of treatment don’t worry you’ll get through the first one too. Let’s just take this one session at a time…