I had originally planned to do a small post to wish everyone a Happy New Healthy Year 2014 as for me that was the plan…to have a hospital free year, especially that in a week I am turning the big 4-0!
Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be…Although I had a great Christmas break with my family, with hair and all (as opposed to the one the year before where I started losing my hair two days before it) and a fairly quiet New Year’s Eve – at home with a bunch of French movies on DVD – which is how I like it by the way, my first weekend of the year turned out a lot more dramatic than expected.
I went back to work on the 2nd Jan feeling pretty refreshed for the nearly 2 weeks break and quite excited about the new year. Then on the Friday 3rd I started to experience chest pains. At first, it was only when I moved a little too fast so I thought I had pulled a muscle or something like that. As the day went the pain became a little more often but I still didn’t worry about it. It was Friday and I thought I’ll see how the weekend goes and if I am still in pain on Monday, I’ll go see my GP…not clever.
I had a quiet night that Friday, mostly because I couldn’t move without wincing in pain and so decided that I should get myself to bed early…big mistake. As soon as I tried to lie down the pain became so excruciating that it nearly made me cry. Yet, like an idiot that I am, I thought, I can deal with this until the morning. Let us say that I had a horrible, mostly sleepless night, propped up with my pillows into a nearly seating position as it was when it was the least painful.
Round 7am, I could stand it no more so I took a shower, got dress and wait for it….I went to take the bus to get myself to A&E! Yes, I know, I hear you clamour in disbelief and wondering why on earth didn’t I call a cab or something? Well, to tell you the truth, I didn’t even think about it and to be fair, the bus stop is only a few minute walk and that particular bus takes me straight to the front of the hospital in less time that it would have taken me to wait for a cab…still, I probably should have.
When I got there I nearly turned around as there is a massive billboard outside the hospital A&E saying “Do you really need A&E? Could you see someone else?” and I thought to myself “Do I? Could I wait?” then I moved and the pain nearly brought me to my knees…so on I went, after all even if it wasn’t anything serious, at least they would give me some serious painkillers, it wouldn’t be a wasted trip.
Now I highly recommend King’s College Hospital’s A&E. I was worried that being Saturday morning I would have to wait for ages because of all the drunkards of the Friday night but apparently I got in between shifts…and I guess when you arrive saying you have chest pains, they don’t mess about either in case you are having a heart attack…I wasn’t, by the way! However, I hadn’t pulled a muscle…they sent me for a CT scan (chest thoracic) and came back with the worrying news that I got myself a bi-lateral pulmonary embolism – for those who don’t know, and I had to ask myself, it’s basically a blood clot which is blocking the artery to your lungs causing breathing difficulties. It’s a little bit serious as if left unattended you could stop breathing all together…bugger. I probably shouldn’t have ignored that pain I had in my leg before Xmas then…I thought I had a lingering cramp but turns out it was a DVT forming which travelled up to my lungs! Dang!
And because of the seriousness of this condition, they decided to admit me. Eh? You mean to say I am going to spend the first weekend of the year in hospital, when I managed to avoid hospitalisation all throughout my cancer treatment? Oh good gad! At that stage I had a moment of “this is fucking unfair and why me?” moment…
Some people have told me how sad they thought it was that I spent new year’s eve alone at home (I fucking loved it myself) but I tell you what is sadder…to spend the weekend in hospital with a dying phone battery, no spare knickers and no friends available as they are all still on holidays! Now that is fucking sad and boring! Thankfully I had my Kindle with me so I could at least pass the time pleasantly.
The nurses on the ward I was in were lovely and friendly too which made the experience a little more bearable and one of them was kind enough to lend me a phone charger so I could let people know what had happened.
Luckily, dealing with the clot was fairly straight forward. They plugged me to oxygen for a little while to bring the levels up and I was put on blood thinners straight away. I had hoped that they would let me out by Sunday night but because of my history, they wanted the oncology consultant to see me and my record before they let me out as they had to stop my Tamoxifen (one of Tx’s side effect is that it can cause clotting and has I am also a Factor V Leidel sufferer (means that genetically my blood is sticky) then, they wanted them to review my case…that and the fact that apparently they found dark spots on my lungs when reviewing the CT scan which weren’t there a year ago when I had the same thing done.
My heart sank when the junior doctor told me that…I knew that there was a risk of secondary lung cancer from radiotherapy but it is quite a minimal risk (according the radiotherapy nurse) and I was hoping that I was done with all that…for at least a very long time. The oncology consultant only came to see me in the afternoon on the Monday so I had plenty of time to mull it over. My initial thought at hearing the news was “I can’t do this again. If it is cancer, I can’t go through chemo and radiotherapy and losing my hair again… I just can’t!”…then you get over that initial panic (at least I did) and start going into denial mode…”it’s probably nothing, they are just being thorough…” then you think “well, I did it once and if it is that, this time it’s been noticed even earlier so it would probably be easier to deal with…”
They told me they wanted another scan done but this time of the all chest and abdomen but I could go home and they would call me the next day with a date. I was chuffed to bits to go back home. I wasn’t in so much pain any more (except at night) and you never really fully rest in hospital, there are always noises and lights and the nurses waking you up to check that you are ok…My boss had very kindly told me to stay at home for the rest of the week so I thought “great, I can get the scan done before I have to go back to work…errrm, no.
Two days later no one had called me so I chased and was then told that my scan had been booked for the 23/01. I was a little confused. The consultant had made it sound like I needed to have the scan done pronto, at least that what I heard and now I have to wait 2 weeks? I pushed back and I will spare you the frustrating phone tagging moments. It’s a busy month apparently so my original appointment stands. I am thinking, if they have been really worried they would have pushed for it to be done quicker…reassuring (a little).
So now I have to wait. I have been put back on Clexane injections (fun) until I have my appointment with the Haematologist to discuss long term treatment (probably Warfarin), they have stopped my Tamoxifen until I have all the tests done so I am getting the joys of hot flashes, insomnia and night sweats again as my hormones are all over the place again and I have too much time to wait not to worry a little.
I am back at work, I feel tired as my nights are still not fully restorative but I’d rather be here than mopping around watching horrendous day time TV. I got the surprise of finding another letter from the hospital informing me that I was booked for a total bone body scan for Friday 24th Jan which would take at least 4 hrs…An scan I didn’t know I was getting so it spiked my worry again but there was no way I was going to have it on that day (my birthday!) so I called to postpone it but they couldn’t give me a new date straight away so I have to wait for the new letter for this one…
So, 2014 has not started so well…My friend C says that I am juts getting all the drama out of the way to have a clear year but a little part of me died when they told me of the spots…what if I have to do this all over again? I know I will tackle it as I did the last time, and right now there is no point in worrying about something I can’t control but I still have that little voice in my head that once in a while (usually at night) pops up and says “why me?”… I am sure I am not the only one thinking that, why any of us indeed…
Still, I can’t let that bring me down for too long (not in my nature anyways) so I am now looking forward to my birthday drinks next Saturday – although I probably won’t be able to drink myself because of the medication. Some of my friends are coming from Paris to celebrate with me…
So despite all of that…I wish you all a very Happy New Year and hope that healthy will be the key word for all of you!