Chemo Day #1

So, Chemo day #1 appears to have gone okay. By okay I mean that other than a heck of a lot of waiting around – I arrived at The Christie at 8:15am and left at 8:30pm for what was essentially five minutes of radiotherapy at the very beginning, some blood tests and a chat with a nurse an hour in, and four hours of chemotherapy at the very end – I’m okay. I’ve been home and ate a decent tea, and have had what is ‘a good sleep’ for me at the moment, and I’m still alive and relatively un-traumatised by it, even with knowing the side effects I’ll get with it over the coming days.

Chemotherapy in style, The Christie, Manchester.

A rather unflattering angle of me taking in my Cisplatin at The Christie, Manchester, taken by my wonderful husband on his arrival.

That’s not to say I haven’t cried today. I spent the day at the hospital alone. Bad idea. My husband had had so much time off work recently so I figured he could just come after work, and my mum was in charge of getting our boy off to school and back, and instead of scaring her witless with a drive she’s not comfortable with I gave her the day off too. Hardly a day off looking after a small child I know, but you know what I mean, right? So I was all on my own all day. Not even a Macmillan nurse for me – though I’m pretty sure if I had thought to ring her she’d have spared a while for me. It didn’t hit me until the staff asked me if I had anyone with me, and were increasingly surprised as the day got on that I was there on my own. If they hadn’t kept on asking, who knows, I might have come out of Chemo day #1 completely unscathed emotionally. But I guess once I realised that it was commonplace – no, it was expected – that someone would be there that day, I suddenly regretted trying to be brave and trying to be all grown up. I felt like I’d been deserted, even though I had said to my mum and husband that I’d be fine to let them off the hook. And so I kept crying. Actually it was more like trying not to cry so that only a few tears escaped at a time and I was quiet and turned away, and I guess no one noticed so much as to ask me if I was okay. If they had, I’d have had an all round meltdown because by 4pm when I still hadn’t gone in for treatment I can safely say I was frazzled. I just wanted my husband there to hold my hand and tell me it was going to be fine and to get cups of water for me so I didn’t lose my seat (I’d been there long enough to get a comfy one). Like everyone else did.

By the time my husband got there there was only three quarters of an hour of my drip left. And I didn’t want to talk about the day anymore. I just wanted to go home to work out which of my four new tablet prescription I was supposed to take that night. And eat. And sleep! I don’t know how many times it crossed my mind that if I bought one of those big houses on Oak Road and turned it, essentially, into a sleeping house: a pound per person per bed in a hospital-clean setup with hospital mattresses and duvets and pillows for patients Waiting in between treatments across the road, it would probably pay for itself in a year.

I’ve kind of calmed myself down over it now but I think that feeling of loneliness is going to sit with me for a while. Self inflicted too, which is possibly worse. If I ever need to cry on cue I have perfect material now! It’s made me realise though that I need to start accepting these offers of help from friends. People who have offered their time will be getting text messages this week in anticipation of my next cycle. Because – and I’ll say this out loud to reaffirm it – I don’t WANT to and don’t HAVE to do this all by myself.

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