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Chemo

The week after the op is the time when everything begins to sink in. Following the biopsy of the tumour I found out I had combined teratoma and seminoma tumour stage one and had to decide whether I should have two courses of chemo to make sure that the cancerís definitely been killed off. The doc strongly recommended it and as Iím not a doctor I thought best to do what he says. Basically if you have chemo youíre far less likely to get the cancer again and as I only had one real ball left I wasnít going to risk it.  Lifeís here to be enjoyed!!

You start to have time to think as everything is carrying on around you, friends and family begin to call and visit. Explaining to everyone was tiring in itself, not content with explaining it once you have to go through it all again and again. My nan turns up bless her, cries and then leaves. Granted she did manage to ask how I was but I should have been the one asking the question. The poor girl was in pieces, sheís a legend though so Iíll let her off. As soon as they passed the ďoh fuck stageĒ, which was different for each person, everything was fine and I worked something out. If theyíd been touched by a serious illness before they dealt with it a lot quicker. However, for those who havenít, they just feel helpless and the best thing you can do is give them time a give them loads of information about it. This site really helped CancerBacup.

I had to have a CAT scan after the op to make sure everything was hunky dory and that there were no signs of spread in my other lymph nodes (I think they are blood filter things but could be wrong). You have to drink another litre of rancid aniseed contrasting agent for the scanÖworse than a mucky pint from your mates. Mum offered to drink a glass so I donít have to drink as much, bless her. They did offer to change the taste of it with the nastiest cheapest most corrosive blackcurrant juice, cheers for that guys. If theyíd told me before I would have rocked up with Ribena or something.  Another gem of information they donít tell you before is that drinking this lovely ďcontrasting agentĒ plays havoc with the old routine downstairs. But on a major plus the scan came back clear with no noticeable tumours. I canít begin to tell you the relief. Result!

Being a bloke I clearly went into for my first chemo treatment with every time-wasting device imaginable; laptop, dvd player, Xbox, assuming that I was going to be well enough to enjoy them. Oh how wrong could you be!! Itís just hours and hours of staying there doing bugger all, scared in case you move too much and the needle in your arm comes out. So there I am for two nights glaring at my arm trying not to move too much in the vain attempt, not to dislodge the needle, which I later find out is a piece a rubber that is held in with one large plaster and several hundreds bits of tape. Making sure the various valves and bends donít move at all. I could have competed in the world judo championships and the thing wouldnít have budged a millimetre. Arse I could have slept.

Other annoying chemo side effects not listed on the medical web sites include;

  1. Itís extremely difficult to play Fifa on the Xbox, I donít think everyone appreciates that itís a two hand game and having one arm incapacitated doesnít help.
  2. You actually develop a skill in estimating the amount of piss you produce as you need to record the volumes to make sure your chemo is fucking your liver/kidney up.

Back on to the well documented side effects; sleep depravation/evasion starts to do funny things to you.  On the second day I even laughed at one of the daytime tele queens, Trishaís, jokes. Thatís when you know itís getting bad. It also helps to explain why housewives find it hard to get back to work. If they have spent the last god knows how many years watching crap like this. Iím not surprised they canít get past the interview stage..

The apprehension of the chemo side effects isnít a pleasant experience and not something Iíd like to repeat, obviously Iíd give it all a miss again but this was pretty rough. The thing that got me the most; hair loss, acne yarda yarda - which one are you going to get?  Donít get me wrong itís not that Iím having a go at the quack here, but as you donít know how bad youíre going to be you really donít know how well, or bad, youíre actually doing. Everyone likes to be told that theyíre doing well but in reality everyone just deals with it differently. After coming out from my first 3 day stint the tiredness kicked in. It was like coming back from a boozy weekend with the boys; youíre bodyĎs so tired you canít sleep and then when you finally do the sodding alarm clock would wake me up for yet another anti sickness drugs.

As most of the side effects take a while to kick in, the first hurdle I had to face was coming off the steroids. The doc said that I may get a bit of a depression.  I was going to ask him whether it was similar to coming down after a rather messy weekend but thought best not. I was using the Tuesday blues for guidance and expecting it to be a pretty horrific experience, however, it wasnít. Yes I was a bit grumpy and yes I was tired, but by no means was it horrific, and to tell you the truth a bit of an anti climax.

This is the best bit coming up, youíre going through chemo so they give you anti-sickness drugs which makes sense. Then the weird bit, you get more anti-sickness drugs as the first ant-sickness drugs have a side effect of making you sick!!! What the hell is that all about? Oh and a little pointer these boys really mess the traffic up downstairs.  Iím not one to condone the drinking of prune juice, however it does seem to do the trick. Itís nearly as disgusting as the stuff you drink for the CAT scan.

Getting used to the hospital visits and turning into a pin cushion just came with time. Not really much to report as Iíd grown accustomed to feeling utterly shit and just wanted to plough on and get the job done. It was good to hear the tumour markers in my blood reducing week on week.

As everyone sort of knows, chemo kills off all your quickly growing cells. The idea is that if we kill everything thatís growing, then the cancer is killed and hopefully your normal cells are strong enough to pull through when you finish. This has a couple of implications, you really could do with keeping the white blood cells, theyíre the little fellas that stop you having a cold. I remember it was a Sunday morning and I was feeling shocking and my throat was really sore, by lunch it felt like Iíd been swallowing barbed wire and I knew things werenít ideal especially having a temperature. We called the hospital and I was in the car quicker than an Ethiopian with a meal ticket. At the hospital I was on antibiotics straight away and my blood was taken for testing. The doc came back with the surprising news that I didnít have enough white blood cells to get an actual reading! I guess it meant the chemo was doing the trick but fuck I felt ill. Got to love antibiotics though; I improved within 6 hours and was back to feeling utterly crap within 12, granted I wasnít going to go out and win the Tour de France but at least I was happy going downstairs to watch TV.

The whole hair falling out thing didnít start until week 3, there I am giving my new ball, which Iím not convinced is the same size, a good old wash in the shower and the next thing I know heís as bald as a coot. A bit weird/surreal but itís been expected. As soon as this happened I knew it would be days before all my hair fell out. Not one to take matters into my own hands out came the clippers and I shaved my head, well I didnít, I got my little brother to do it. We had agreed on a grade 4, however, the idiot fucked up and went straight in with a grade 2!!! What a monkey! I was pissed at the time but then I thought ďwhat the hellĒ it makes no odds and bicíd it. I didnít realise that I could look so ill. All of my skin pigment had gone and I looked bloody awful. NEXT

 

 

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