Chemotherapy - Week 1

This is my second attempt at this blog post, in a recliner chair, next to my mother in a hospital bed. Yes, she was admitted during her first week of chemotherapy and there explains why it has taken me so long to get this post about her first week of chemotherapy online.  In my first attempt, I listed all her symptoms as if I were answering the doctor's routine question of "How is she feeling?" because I'm surviving on auto pilot at the moment.  I'm exhausted.  And I didn't even have chemotherapy!  So I can't imagine what my mother is feeling.  Actually, I can, as she slept continuously for 48 hours as she had neutropenic sepsis.  Chemotherapy works by intravenously dripping drugs into the blood stream which kill the cancer cells.  However, the chemotherapy drugs can't differentiate between good and bad cells and as a result, wipe out some of the good red and white blood cells which we need in our body to fight infections aswell as the bad.  Neutropenic sepsis is a significant inflammatory response to an infection and is hard to detect as the person may/ may not respond with a high temperature.  In my mother's case, her temperature was within normal boundaries.  So I'm re-writing this blog post and telling you how the week actually went, for my mum as a cancer survivor and for me, as her support, as she fights this disease.

At the start of the cycle, she was still able to walk 0.5 miles on Saturday morning and we were elated, "we're in the clear!" we thought.  But in the afternoon, she crashed.  On Sunday, she was even more tired and by Monday, we could pretty much go down the list of side effects that the majority of people on the same treatment experience and tick them off the list.  That is, if she had the energy to hold a pen and I, the time to hold the list for her.  And that summarises the week as she deteriorated with a decreasing amount of energy as I inversely walked closer to support her and hold her steady. She was finally admitted to Accident & Emergency by my GP after making a house call at 10pm.  I don't care what is said about GP's and local surgeries, to me, my local GP is excellent.  I had imagined that this would happen at some point throughout the course of treatment.  But not this soon. I was a lot more calm and accepting of the fact that my mother was going to A&E than I thought I would be.  I think that's because I knew she needed care and it was a relief that she would get that.  I explained to her that I couldn't give her the care that she needed for the evening and that she would be admitted to hospital and though neither I or her wanted her to be admitted, it was for the best.  I think the logical and calm way in which I was proposing this made her more accepting of the fact.  Even the ambulance driver commented that she was quite calm about the situation.  To be honest, I was surprised she didn't fall asleep in the ambulance as she had been so tired the last 24 hours!

My mum was admitted to A&E and then transferred across to the Oncology Ward.

So my mum is still in hospital being treated for neutropenic sepsis, had her third ascitic drain, has lost some weight and is still very tired.  In some ways, I feel like we fell at the first hurdle but I also feel like we learnt a lot about how treatment will be affecting our lives.  I think for my next blog post, I will write up what we learnt along with tips to help those with cancer going through treatment and their carers to make life easier.

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