Off to Cancer Unit for a check-up. Husband slept really badly, having to get up pretty much every 45 minutes to pee. He was so tired he asked me to drive to the hospital. He enjoys driving and finds it easy so it’s not insignificant that he doesn’t feel up to it.
We meet W in the waiting room. We first met the day of Husband’s first chemo. W was hooked up to a drip, cheerfully explaining how things worked. Today he’s smiling but the strain shows through the smile and he’s clearly very worried. Yesterday’s blood results showed a drop so he may have to postpone chemo for a week. He’s just been invited by one of the nurses ‘for a chat’… He exited soon after, just managing to smile, delayed by a week.
We meet a young couple who’ve just been sent up from Haematology, looking like rabbits caught in headlights. Fortunately they have someone older with them who seems to have been here before. He smiles, refers to the waiting room as ‘the reality room’. I’m so glad he’s with them. They’re so very young. They look so scared, shell-shocked. She tells me ‘I wish we’d been given a bit of warning, just a little bit’ before facing the cancer unit. The first thing you see (apart from walls which try to be a cheerful light primrose yellow but which in fact look a bit sickly and will never look clean even though they are) is the treatment room. The waiting room is off to the side but right in front of you looms a room with scary looking machines and lots of people on drips.
‘Young man’ says he ‘didn’t make the link’ between being sent to Haematology and possibly having cancer. It’s terrifying how quickly this world becomes normal and yet it’s crucial. Cancer is horribly common, people live well with it for years even when they can’t be cured. And so very many people ARE cured. And research continues to improve things further, both for those who can be cured and for those whose cancer can only be managed, slowed down. It can be fought. But they don’t know that yet. They’re new to this horrible room, to this horrible disease. They will find a way through this but it won’t be easy. There are no easy routes.
It’s been such a long wait today – nearly 3 hours from arriving to have blood taken and actually getting to see the doctor. We should be getting good at waiting by now. Turns out the doc is on his own today and with new patients needing extra time it’s hardly surprising there’s a delay. We’re grateful that this is a relatively routine appointment (in theory). We’ve already had the bad news.
Husband is feeling much better today but we won’t know anything until we get the blood results.
They’re fine 🙂 – red cells up from 95 last week to 103 and platelets up from 227 (already fine) to 330. We cheer. Doc Inscrutable looks up with what appears to be alarm: “It’s too soon to know what this means”. We reassure him that we know that but it’s just good that for once the numbers are going in the right direction! We’re glad not to have reason for discouragement. His face broke into a warm understanding smile. He usually plays his cards very close to his chest but we clearly have his permission to not feel discouraged 🙂 … but not to feel encouraged yet.
We book in for another blood test a few days before the next chemo and we escape.
We took the dog for a short walk but it was very cold and he who doesn’t feel the cold got too cold. He overdid it, even though it was a walk of no more than 10 minutes. It seems to be a bit like ME that way: the cold makes everything much more difficult. He’s much more sensitive to changes in temperature (particularly the cold) than he used to be and is learning that sometimes he just has to give in and go to bed, particularly if he gets very cold and fatigued. His legs really ached today, in a way he hasn’t ever experienced before chemo.
My years with ME have taught me about trying to manage muscle pain and fatigue and it’s proving quite helpful for Husband. ME can feel like it’s killing you but it’s not. This is like a much more sinister version of ME.