Having ‘chemo’ is an interesting thing, you don’t just get hooked up to the drain fluid and off you go….nope there are stages…. Well there was for my regime. First things first, paracetamol! I didn’t have a headache? Then the first innocent looking bag of liquid was attached to me and a drip machine that ensured a steady flow into my unsuspecting arm; it was tiny and clear, excellent I thought, why on earth did I need an overnight bag?… I could be out of here before lunch at this rate.
Suddenly my body was tingling all over, I was hot and quickly felt like I had been thrown naked into a field of stinging nettles and was rolling around. Everyone in the room was busy making general conversation, while I was thinking what the fuck is happening??!! Surely they must notice something is not quite right? ‘Jen’ my lovely Chemo buddy looked at my horrified face and smiled….seriously I thought, you’re smiling and I am on fire! “Do you feel a bit of a burning sensation” she quizzed, no shit I thought, but just nodded. “Don’t worry it only lasts a minute, it’s just the antihistamine” What, we have even started yet?! The burning past quickly and 10 minutes later the bag was empty….Subsequent doses were diluted with water and I never experienced the nettle roll again J.
Next came a larger bag of liquid…what this it? Nope, apparently this was my 30 minute rest saline drip.. I sighed, don’t get me wrong I was not looking forward to having the dreaded drain fluid, but I had wound myself up so much I just wanted to get it over with and this was beginning to feel like a joke that never seemed to get to the punch line. I needn’t have worried, rest saline over things took on a more serious tone. In came a yellow box, Jen put on an extra apron and another set of gloves, there was also now 2 chemo buddies, they asked me to confirm again who I was and when I was born….odd really as I had not moved since they hooked me up over an hour ago and filled the forms in?!
I was tempted to say, nope that’s not me….but sensed that this was not the time. Although, it was not all doom and gloom and it remained light hearted, but with the serious undertone that accompanies the concentration of handling a nasty substance. A small bag, covered to protect it from the light appeared from the box, in my head I felt that a drum roll would have been a great edition to the moment; I had been at the hospital for about 1.5 hours and it was now time to meet the horrible stuff…No hooking me up and cheerfully wandering off to the tune of “call if you need me” things became a little more focused, lots of questions were asked “did I feel ok”? Strangely, yes, I felt fine. It appears that if this lovely stuff comes into contact with anything outside of your veins then it can burn, lovely!
But what a massive testament to the resilience and capability of the humble vein! Those horrible things that move blood around your body and get very little positive attention… who know what super heroes they would turn out to be?! So for 15 minutes we watched this innocent looking fluid drip into my veins, I kept waiting for something to happen, but nothing… and then it was over, a new saline bag was put up to flush the stuff out… as apparently it is expelled from your body quite quickly, leaving a microscopic trail of destruction that takes days to fully take effect.
While your body is expelling this stuff you have to take a few precautions, one of which is for a couple of days after each treatment I had to double flush and put bleach down the toilet every time I went to the bathroom…I wondered what would happen if I cried…would I burn my cheeks??? Apparently not.
Read more about Wendy's experiences with non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Find out more about side-effects of chemo to expect and look out for