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Friday, 28 June 2013

Feb. 2013: All Systems Go!

I can honestly say that my diary has never been as full as it was during the first half of 2013. Every week seemed to have at least two or three appointments…. Physiotherapist, Occupational therapist, Hospital, blood tests etc. etc.
Then, in February, the chemo began. The general pattern that would emerge was that one week in every three would consist of a visit to the Hospital on the Monday to see the Oncologist, with another chest x-ray if necessary, blood tests on the Tuesday, chemo treatment on the Thursday and a quiet day for Suzie to get over it all on the Friday! As it turned out, these one-in-three 'busy' weeks were extended as time went on due to Sue's blood platelets not recovering sufficiently each time, but more about that in due course. The first of these weeks was even worse as we also had to have a 'pre-chemo preparation talk' with the specialist nurse before the first treatment was given. We were given a booklet full of information about all the risks and precautions associated with this type of chemotherapy. There was a long list of foods that Suzie shouldn't eat because of the risk of bacteria eg. soft cheese, pate, bio yogurt, cold meat, mayonnaise, soft boiled eggs, etc. The nurse, very helpfully(?) told me it was a bit like what I would have been told when I was pregnant…. Mmmm, actually, when I was having my kids, the most radical medical advice that had reached the ante-natal classes was that it might be a good idea to give up smoking!
We were told that there would be periods of time during the next 18 weeks when Suzie's immune system would be totally wiped out and if there was ever any sign of her having a raised temperature or infection I was to contact the Hospital immediately. I was given an 'Alert' card that I would need to show to the staff at A&E, if the situation arose, to warn them that Suzie was at high risk of 'Neutropenic sepsis' and needed IV antibiotics immediately. The leaflet we were given to go with it made rather alarming reading, especially as every page reminded us in bold type to 'Act QUICKLY because Neutropenic sepsis develops rapidly and can be fatal'. I have to say it all sounded pretty terrifying.
It was a difficult week with so much to take in and so many appointments to attend, not to mention all of the emotions that we were faced with as we embarked on this very scary and unknown journey. It was in the middle of coping with all this that I was dealt another personal blow, completely unrelated to Suzie's illness. One evening, right out of the blue, I received a totally unexpected phone call from my ex-husband's partner, which left me feeling absolutely shell-shocked. With my mind still reeling from the shock of what I'd just been told, I then had to contact my kids and break the news to them that their father had passed away the previous day. I don't know how I thought I was supposed to feel in this situation, but I was certainly not prepared for the range of confusing and conflicting emotions that engulfed me that evening.
I think it's fair to say that we were all beginning to wonder where this year was taking us. We had faced more heartache and trauma in those past few weeks than we could ever have imagined. Through the pain and the tears we clung on desperately to all of the good things we could still find in our life and we tried to focus on them. We still had each other, a loving family and many dear friends. We were blessed to live in a most beautiful part of the world and there was so much of God's wonderful creation all around us. We really did still have a lot to be thankful for. The following photos offer a glimpse of various facets of our life.
A Breath of Sea Air

Our Beautiful Scenery

Notice Millie in the back of the car!
A handy bit of Dartmoor Granite for Suzie to sit on.

Back at the Hospital....

Mmmm. I must remember that in future!!
When I 'Parked' Suzie here I hadn't read the sign on the wall....