Saturday, 25 February 2012

An update on side effects

A week has now passed since my first infusion of Doxorubicin. It has been a bit of an up and down few days in terms of side effects. From around midnight on the day of the infusion I started to experience nausea which was then a pretty constant companion through until Thursday. I also had some abdominal and stomach pain, constipation, hot facial flushes (possibly caused by the anti-sickness tablets) and a little fatigue. I'm relieved to say that as of Thursday evening I began to feel much better with my digestive system making a welcome return to something approaching normality. I will discuss these side effects with the doctor ahead of my next cycle in the hope that we can find a more effective way to manage them.

I am now about to enter five days during which my immune system will be low, the peak impact arising between 10 and 14 days after receiving the chemotherapy agent. The nurse who administered my chemo advised that I need to be particularly careful to avoid infection as Doxorubicin can be tougher on the immune system than my last chemo regime.  As a result I’m planning to stay at home during most of the next week though if the weather is good Katie and I might get out on one or two walks.

I'm very fortunate in that I can easily work from home. Most of the meetings I need to attend can be held by conference call and much of the rest of my job is based around e-mail.  I am also fortunate to have an employer who provides the flexibility for me to fit work in around the treatment. I certainly found work to be a useful distraction this last week whilst feeling under the weather.

I'm looking forward to a big sporting weekend in front of the TV with the Six Nations rugby later today and the Carling Cup final tomorrow. As an England and Liverpool supporter I am hoping for a double over Welsh opposition though I have to admit I am far from confident especially with the rugby.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Get e-mail updates when I blog

Several people have asked me how they can receive e-mail updates whenever I post a new entry on this blog. After a little research I've found out how to do this using a Google service called "Feedburner".

The easy way to register for e-mail updates is to simply type your e-mail address into the "Follow By Email" box on the right and hit "Submit". If this doesn't work for some reason try the following:

Click the link:

then follow the instructions in the pop up window to enter your e-mail address. You will then receive a confirmation e-mail from "Feedburner Email Subscriptions", open this and click on the link to confirm you want to receive the email updates.

Friday, 17 February 2012

One down, five to go!

I had the first treatment of my new chemotherapy course today. As mentioned in an earlier post the chemotherapy agent I am taking is Doxorubicin; I’m due to have six infusions of this spread over an eighteen week period.
The process of having the chemotherapy is really straight forward, Katie and I go to the Chemotherapy Day Unit at the hospital at which I am being treated and I have a line inserted into a vein in the back of my hand, this is connected to a machine that slowly pumps in the chemotherapy agent. For the Doxorubicin treatment it takes about thirty minutes to infuse the drug and a few more minutes to flush the line through with saline. I sit in an armchair and I can read or chat to pass the time, once the infusion is complete I'm free to return home. Before treatment I have to take some anti-sickness tablets, I’ve also got some more anti-sickness pills and steroids to take over the next couple of days. I finished the infusion around four and half hours before writing this and I feel fine, no nausea or other side effects at this point (except for pink pee – Doxorubicin is red in colour and it tints the urine until it has been flushed through, think weak Ribena or is that too much information?). I just have to wait now for the next couple of weeks to see what other side effects might develop.

Yesterday I had an appointment with my consultant oncologist. We discussed the chemotherapy and also my current condition. This last couple of weeks I’ve occasionally been experiencing abdominal discomfort, sometimes accompanied by a very strong feeling of nausea. One or two of these incidents have included some pain along with the discomfort, luckily though they have come and gone in just a matter of five or ten minutes so they are not causing me much of a problem at this time. The oncologist’s view is that these symptoms may indicate that one of the abdominal tumours is pressing on part of my intestines. If the symptoms develop further he says that surgery will probably be required but that for now we just need to monitor the situation. I may get some inkling as to whether or not the chemotherapy is working if the symptoms I have been feeling decrease over the coming weeks. I am scheduled for a CT scan in early April and that will provide a clearer view on how the Doxorubicin is performing.
Last night we stayed at the Compasses Inn in Wiltshire. It’s a really traditional fourteenth century pub with good real ale, friendly service, lots of dark oak furniture and the smell of wood smoke from the open fire. It also serves some very enjoyable food, pork belly and pork loin followed by rhubarb crumble and custard provided a suitable pre-chemo treat for me!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

A week in Norfolk

Last week Katie and I rented a cottage in Burnham Market, close to the north Nofolk coast. We thought we’d take the opportunity to get away before I start my next chemotherapy course this coming Friday. Katie’s brother and sister in law joined us for the first few days of our stay and we had a very pleasant time.

It snowed on the Saturday night and we awoke on the Sunday to drifts up to a foot deep in places. Despite the weather we managed to do quite a bit of bird watching the highlight of which was seeing a magnificent barn owl hunting along an overgrown bank in a car park at Snettisham RSPB reserve. As we were in the car the owl was unbothered by our presence and came within a few metres of where we were sat. My camera was, of course, in the boot and I couldn’t retrieve it for fear of scaring the owl away so I missed a glorious opportunity to get some shots of this beautiful bird! Apart from the bird watching we had some very good food and a little of the excellent local real ale; I recommend Woodforde’s Wherry and Humpty Dumpty’s Little Sharpie very highly if you are ever in that area.