Would you A&E it!
So having been released from ICU on Fri 14/7 i took the decision to fully relax and convalesce. I left hospital 11kg / 23lb heavier due to being pumped full of fluid to support my blood pressure. Over the next few days I lost 2kg per day! Weeeeeee.
I woke up feeling a little less bloated than the night before but then a pain came on in my stomach.
Herman wasn't happy!
Herman is my ventral hernia with a little belly button side kick hernia to keep him company. It’s thanks to Herman who, known at the time as the lump, led me to an ultrasound scan with inconclusive results, a CT scan that revealed a solitary kidney (since birth) and a blood test that showed an elevated white cell count leading to a diagnosis of MBL and eventually Lymphoma. That was 2019. I thank Herman for all the advanced warning and preparation he’s given me.
Mayby it was my lack of attention or maybe the bloating from hosital, but the fat on the inside of my muscle wall, had pushed itself through the 4cm tear where it got stuck! This cuts off the blood supply and the pain starts. It's called a strangulated hernia and it feels like someones twisting a corkscrew into your tummy. The pain is both constant and comes in waves.
The first aid for this kind of hernia is to lie flat and use an ice pack to reduce the swelling until Herman decides to go back home! This is my second strangulation event and noone tells you the basic first aid! Thank you Dr Google! Herman chose not to go home so we had to go to AnE.
We called a taxi which was a huge mistake. It took longer than the tube and his sat nav took us over every road bump in North London. The driver couldn't pull over near A&E for fear of a ticket, so we had to walk around the block to the entrance.
Once inside, things went very efficiently. Painkillers were given, a bed was assigned and obs were taken. The surgical registrar assessed me for an operation but he, we and Heamatology definitely didn't want that due to the ongoing risk of infection and delay to round two of chemo. Fortunately after an hour I was having more obs taken by a nurse when there was a wave of pain and the visible lump aka Herman went home.
It was like that scene from Alien but in reverse!
Operation avoided and we were sent home.
Fortunately I then had two days free of issues while I got my life back into some order, or at least the usual chaos I'm familiar with.
I woke up with my face swollen and itching all over my body. In my mind it looked a little like Patrick Stewart aka Jean Luc Picard of the starship Enterprise. Beam me direct to sickbay!
Clearly an allergic reaction to one of the many meds so it was off to A&E again, this time by tube. I’ve been wearing a face mask on the tube for a month and it amazes me how often people sneeze, cough and wheeze. Being immunosuppressed adds a whole layer of jeopardy :)
Doctors doctored, consultants consulted, Some familiar faces came over from Heamatology to suggested it was a side effect of a drug to support the chemo's side effects. Steroids and anti-itch pills were prescribed and I was sent home.
I woke up with my face so swollen that I could barely open my eyes. Back to A&E as per my instructions if things got worse. There was a distinct similarity to Homer Simpson that disturbs me and surprised noone! I was only a day from looking like Sponge Bob Square Pants!
More doctors, more meds and this time a consultation with a dermatologist who had great skin (definitely a good sign) She prescribed a cream for my face, another for other bodily itchy bits and a large tub of moisturiser for general skin hydration. I now have meds to support the side effects of the meds supporting the side effects of the chemo. It's starting to sound like 'she swallowed a spider to catch a fly!'
As the swelling went down it looked as if my face was melting, followed by dry scaly skin held together by moisturiser. My face is like a snake that's shed it’s skin, only I'm the skin!
Fortunately the swelling went down in time for my Salsa Rapido course on Sunday. It’s a five hour course that requires energy and concentration. I’d emailed the group to ask that any people with cold or flu symptoms transfer to another date as there was at least one immunosuppressed person on the course i.e. me.
It was wonderful to be back in action, on top form and having heaps of fun with a bunch of happy adults. It felt like I've got my life back and recovered my form. I can honestly say that, having run the course for 20 years, it’s a very good way to test my energy levels and I honestly felt better than just before starting chemo.
Back at UCLH but this time it was scheduled. This is the Monday before Round Two of Chemo, so it’s blood tests and consultation to get the green light. I’m pleased to say it’s all systems go. My enthusiasm is partly based on the idea that once I start Round Two it means Round One is truly over! Round Two also means I’m a third of the way through my adventures in Chemo Land.
Roll on Thursday and Friday for Round Two, this time with the additional Immunotherapy drug.