Hotel Churchill

Apologies for the leave of absence lately but as it turns out, this week has been even crazier than the last ones.

On Sunday after a lovely little trip with Sam to Stowe gardens, my cycling mates came round and I was treated to a ‘night in extravaganza’ – the Muppets movie on DVD complete with smoothies, brownies and ice cream. Unfortunately all good things come to an end and this was one ‘end’ and a half. Once the guests had left my temperature rocketed beyond 38 degrees and we had to pack ourselves off to the Churchill hospital.

On Monday I was horrified as I woke up to discover that I’d doubled in size with fluid again. This was only to get worse as the week went on, with a gain of 3kg of fluid every day until I was 10kg over my usual body weight. However, because my blood counts were so low (turns out the 1st dose of new chemo was a little too strong for me) and I was fighting an infection, getting all the beastly fluid drained off was out of the question until things improved. So it’s been a week of antibiotics, magnesium infusions, phosphate tablets, vitamin k injections…. all in a bid to try and get my system back into shape.

It turned out that the PICC line in my arm was the source of the infection so that got hoiked out – all well and good until it turned out that I needed more drips so we were back to playing ‘Naomi the human pin cushion’. On Thursday night I managed an all time record of 3 nurses and 1 doctor all trying their luck at finding a vein and I’m now notorious on the ward for being ‘the girl with the evil veins’.

Yesterday after an agonising wait of 8 hours, my wish for a ‘good and proper draining’ finally came true. In fact I’m still at it now – a good 3 or 4 litres of fluid have been ejected so far and still going strong. My stomach has gone down a lot but I still have an impressive pair of thunder thighs to deflate.

Unfortunately my yo-yo-ing temperature and some weird blood culture results mean I’m probably going to be in hospital until Tuesday when I’m due for my next chemo session. That said, I’m so happy to finally be returning to something- vaguely resembling my normal size (thanks to the drain), I don’t really mind that much. The care at the hospital is fantastic – I get 3 meals a day and regular tea & biscuit trolley visits, protein milkshakes twice a day, my own private room with ensuite. Granted the timetable is a little evil – blood tests at 6 am, breakfast at 7.30 and dinner at 5pm (I don’t think I’ve had dinner that early since I was a toddler) coupled with intravenous drips through the night, but I really can’t complain.

That said, the food options on offer can be somewhat amusing. Here for example are Tuesday’s menu options: Faggots & gravy; Pilchard salad; Corned Beef Hash; Cheese & Pickle sandwich; Tapioca Pudding; Strawberry Whip. They pop a little heart by the ‘healthy’ menu options and on this particular day only the tapioca pudding was bestowed with this honour. Ah well, fortunately I have super Sam to fill in the gaps and bring me some more palatable options.

Such has been my life for the past week, enlivened no end by the generosity once again of my family and friends. Thank you Anita, Emily, Clare, Claire, Polly and Tam for the fab ‘home cinema’ night. Thank you Stephanie, Jess, Emily, Anita, Polly, Isabel, Bryony, Colin, Aleksandra, Richard, Ann, Les and Tom for coming to visit me bearing gifts. Thank you Gareth and Isabel for welcoming Sam back for supper. And of course the biggest thanks of all go to Sam for being at my side and bedside through all of this madness.

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