Only one full day to go before I go into hospital for my ‘mini-break’ on Tuesday. Strangely, although it’s a pretty horrible thing coming up, I’ve been happy to see that number of days get lower and lower. One feels much better than fifteen did. It’s a bit like counting down till exams: I’m looking forward to being out the other side. Waiting for such a big event is a bit stressful, and even though I’ve managed to do a few fun things in the last fortnight, it’s not like I can forget about the huge monster looming in front of me. There is also a lot to get ready, and not enough time to do everything, a bit like before going on holiday. Even though the destination isn’t glamorous (sorry Tooting!), there is also the pre-holidayesque activity of shopping and packing: which, unusually for me, I’ve started a couple of days in advance, rather than leaving it until the middle of the night before, and frantically trying to dry clothes in the morning while trying not to miss my flight…
Check-in time is 1230 on Tuesday. I don’t need a passport, and that isn’t the time when I can put my luggage onto a conveyor belt, but rather the time when someone will insert a plastic tube into my neck. Ugh. Worse than Ryanair.
I’ve had the full briefing now, and although I’ll spare you all the gory details (for now, at least), I know people are keen to know some of the more practical aspects, so here goes:
– Average stay is 4 weeks, but it could be a week more or less than that. So 17th June until early/ mid-July.
– I’ll be in my own room, which is an isolation room with various fancy things to minimise infection risk, like extra filters in the air vents in the ceiling and slightly higher air pressure so that it blows out at the doors and repels foul things from the outside world!
– Visitors are allowed: it’s not a big room, so not more than two at a time. Mealtimes are protected i.e. no visitors: 1230-1 and 5-6pm(!) Essentially, I think afternoons will be best, and early evenings when I’m up to it.
– No flowers, fruit or veg, or pretty much any food really. I’ve got books but I guess newspapers or non-trashy magazines or nice-smelling lotions and potions would be the kind of thing to put a smile on my face!
– No kids, sorry. No coming to visit if you’ve been around children with chicken pox, etc.
– Absolutely don’t come if you’re ill, or have anything catching, or even feeling a bit under the weather and might be coming down with something.
In practice, I may not want visitors for much of the time, but equally I might be feeling very bored and, well, isolated. At a rough guess I’ll feel more like having visitors in the first week and then towards the end of my stay. But who knows, it could be the opposite.
As it’s hard to predict I’ve decided it’s easier just to pencil people in on a sort of ‘visitor rota’ in advance and then cancel if I’m not feeling up to it. So let me know if you’re free and want to come, especially if you have the flexibility to do midweek daytimes.
Of course there is also the option of communicating with me via phone, Skype, texting, emailing, or the good old postal service! Irrespective of whether I’m well enough to indulge in any of the interactive versions of those, one-way communication from the outside world will always be welcome! Last time around I had a cork board in my room, and as you can imagine it was very cheering to end up looking at this:
The hospital address is available online – I’ll be in the R*** M**** ward and if you use the A-Z ‘service finder’ for ‘haematological cancer’ on the hospital website you can find that name in full! Sorry to be cryptic but I’m more comfortable writing freely on here without feeling like this blog will come up if someone googles that ward! Email me if you can’t figure it out, or call the hospital!
What else? Tomorrow I’m going in for some blood tests and to get a month’s worth of one particular antibiotic via a nebuliser. On Tuesday I get the line and lots more antibiotics. Wednesday is Day -1 or High-Dose Melphalan Day i.e. a ginormous dose of chemo, which is the treatment, with lots of fluids. Thursday is Day 0 or Stem Cell Transplant Day, which is the ‘rescue’ from the chemo. Thereafter, it will be mainly a case of watching the World Cup and Wimbledon and enduring various nasty physical side effects (of the chemo, not the fact that I’ll be uncharacteristically watching lots of sport).
Yours, eagerly counting down to Zero,