I must confess, I am a week behind with this blog post. But I do have a good reason, well two actually……nausea and fatigue. A week ago I went in for my 6th chemotherapy cycle and boy was it an experience. Everything was running smoothly, perhaps a little too smoothly, and it was looking like I would set a personal record for the least amount of time in the chair to date.
I had my Oxaliplatin infusion via my port, followed by a saline flush. All felt well and good and I was started on the Folfox. Three minutes into the Folfox infusion and I started to get pain in the right side of my chest, just above the port. I could feel that the area had swollen considerably and was painful to touch. The nurse immediately stopped the IV and they inspected the port. There were no signs that the needle had moved in the port or that there were any other issues. The nurses attempts to draw blood from the port failed, so the decision was made to remove the needle and reattach a new one. Now I gotta tell ya, having that needle attached once a fortnight is painful enough, so twice in one day was not going to be fun. But as with most things cancer treatment related, you kind of have a choice to not have it done, but really, you have no choice. So the new needle was put into the port, minus the numbing cream this time. But, despite the nurses best efforts, again no blood could be drawn. Now there is one thing you never want to hear in a hospital, “hmmmm, I’ve never seen that before, I wonder why it’s doing that?”. I heard this and about three variations of it in the space of 30 minutes. The decision was then made to remove the needle again and to get my port scanned to see if there was a fracture in my line.
So off I went to imaging where, would you believe it, I had to have another needle inserted into my port. This was so that they could run a contrast through the port to see if there were any leaks. At this stage I was certain that there was a fracture or hole in the line and that I had either chemo drugs or saline under my skin. So, all hooked up, I took my position on the hospital bed in the imaging room. A flat scanner hovered over my chest whilst the contrast was injected into the port. I watched on the big screen as the solution entered the port and exited at the bottom of the line. No leaks, no holes, no fractures. Two conclusions were made. One, that I had fibres which had grown over the end of my port line inside my vein and this was blocking any blood from entering the line. The second was that the nurse had incorrectly fixed the needle to my port. I am by no means an expert and do agree with the first conclusion, however, I don’t think the leak had anything to do with the nurse. It all felt and looked normal. We may never know exactly what the issue was. The swollen part of my chest was given a run under an ultrasound to see if it was in fact fluid that was under my skin. It was, and again, we may never know exactly what fluids ended up under my skin.
In the week after this cycle I have had terrible nausea and fatigue. I have spent a total of 5 minutes outside, mainly due to the weather, and have been sleeping about 17 hours a day. My anti nausea medications no longer work and the only relief from the nausea is for about two hours each morning. Oh, and my chest still feels like it’s been rammed by a bull. On the plus side, the doctor reduced my Oxaliplatin dosage to 75% and this has helped enormously with the neuropathy. Hopefully I can now have a small break to get my body and mind back to some type of healthy.