The lovely Nurse seated me near the main desk, just so they can keep an eye on me as its my first session.
I met a lovely lady called Sarah as I found my seat and she knew it was my first session. She was sweet and told me not to worry and to drink lots of water.
This session also included the Cold Cap – which is a method of hindering hair loss during Chemotherapy as a side effect is Alopecia.
I sat down and the Nurse brought over a tray of medical apparatus. By the way, they constantly ask what your name is and your date of birth before administering any drugs to you as a precaution.
She briefly went through what would happen and we got going.
I was first asked which area on my arms I’d like the drip to go through. I immediately went for my useless left arm and the vein on my hand.
They setup a little port in my vein, which was painless and secure. I was going to receive the anti-sickness drip first – which took about 45mins or so.
They then started to sort out the Cold Cap. First they wet all your hair with normal water, spraying everywhere.
They put a towel round your neck and get spraying. Its not the nicest way to get your hair wet as it usually drips down past your ears and to the front of your neck making your chest wet.
Which makes me feel cold and abit “meh” with the whole hair watering. Felt like I was a plant being watered haha.
Anyway that’s a quick process. Then they push your hair back and fit this gel filled cap (mine was green) on to your head. It feels very tight, but doesn’t hurt. I felt like I was going swimming!
They then, put another cloth cap on top of the gel cap to further secure the cap to your scalp. Making it more tighter and they strap it under your chin. Now I felt like I had a helmet on.
To be honest I found it quite funny and we made a little joke about how I looked, which helps to lighten the mood. Its always good to laugh!
Sometimes they secure the second cap even further by stuffing folded tissue underneath.
So I was strapped up and all secure ready to go. The cold cap is hooked up to a large machine beside me with tubular connections. The cold cap will reduce your scalp temperature from 25 degrees Celsius down to 3 degrees Celsius. This takes about 30mins or so as it’s a gradual process. As it starts to cool down to the lower temperatures you will feel a little bit of a headache, very briefly, but you get used to it very quickly and the headache does totally subside, well it did for me.
I was cold during the whole chemo treatment, so lots of blankets and pillows, recliner up and some lovely Tea by my husband helped a lot.
Once the cap was at 3 degrees Celsius, it was time to start the actual chemo.
They asked me again, “what’s your name and date of birth?”
I see on the tray a few packs of liquid, some clear, some pink – yes Pink! And some syringes which were also pink. The “pink stuff” as I like to call it, is the Doxorubicin chemotherapy drug, which is a strong drug for my treatment.
So they hook me up to the drip and the machine which manages the drip. The nurses kept an eye on it and when it beeps, it means its finished, needs adjusting or something else and they'll sort it out.
I literally feel nothing as the chemo starts to go through my arm. I was surprised, I thought I would at least feel a cool sensation throughout my body. But through the whole process I felt nothing. Nothing at all. Bearing in mind that the Anti-sickness drugs are also doing their job to make you feel normal.
As my port was not yet fitted, it takes a little time for all the drugs to go through your veins.
I was on the drip for a good two and half hours I’d say. Though it felt like time was passing so quickly and it really did not feel like I was there for long.
The process of the cold cap makes the whole experience a lot longer. But if you feel like you need to go through the cold cap experience, then just do it!
It didn’t work for me, and honestly doesn’t work for most people.
But I did meet a fellow chemo patient whom it did work for really well.
So it's not to say it wouldn’t work for some.
For me, the cold cap helped me psychologically to deal with hair loss, and helped me to deal with it at a slower pace, at a pace I was comfortable with. It helped me to come to terms with losing my hair slowly which helped me adjust to it more easily. I feel that a sudden loss of hair, without the cold cap would have really been difficult for me.
But the gradual loss and coming to terms with it and the curiosity I had of how your hair can just fall out, was then answered for me.
As you can tell I’m a very curious person.
After the chemo drips had finished, it was time to wait for the cold cap temperature to go back up to 25 degrees Celsius, which took another 30mins or so.
Once that was done I could go home. Woop Woop!
The after effects of Chemo were bad for me this first two weeks.
Sadly I vomited quite a few times, I was very weak. I could hardly move, walk, speak, eat or sleep the first few days.
I felt like I was in someone else's body.
It didn't feel like my body, I didn't feel like me, like my strong self.
I couldn't do anything for myself.
It was the toughest 2 weeks of my life.
After effects of the first chemo
Oh what can I say. Myself and my husband were not prepared for the effects of the first chemo!
I think things moved so quickly, from waiting for fertility treatment to being told we can’t do fertility treatment as I don’t have time. That I didn’t get a chance to even do my own research on Chemotherapy and look at blogs and others inspiring stories.
I was thrown right into it – which actually I preferred to be honest, which etched at my curiosity.
It's hard to remember what it was like, how I felt, what it did to me. In some ways I don't want to remember the difficulties, it was like a nightmare.
I don’t want to scare you or build fear up in you. But I’m guessing if you are reading my blog that you want to know what it could be like. I’m sure you know me by now, that I’m very honest and blunt about it all! Honesty is the best policy!
But look, you must remember that every single body on this earth is different. It also depends on the drugs you are given, the mix of drugs, how your body reacts to it. There are many factors involved. But ultimately, I’d like to prepare you in some way or another to what could or possibly happen in the first week.
So, I had my Chemo on a Friday and we made a huge mistake on that first evening by eating a large meal! This was a NO No for me.
My husband made me such a lovely meal that evening after chemo. I felt so normal, no side effects had kicked in, no weird or odd feelings – just me. I felt sleepy and a little drained from the day. Then night time came and I fell asleep.
I woke up at 11pm and vomited all of last night’s dinner, then again at 1am – it was a terrible feeling I must admit. It was also my mistake of eating too much.
My best advice is eat little, but very often. This will help you regulate and manage how your body is feeling and reacting to food whilst under chemo.
The rest of the week was just as worse sadly. But I promise you, after the second chemo, it does get easier!
The next day on Saturday, I wasn’t good. I was very weak, drowsy, couldn’t and didn’t want to eat. Couldn't move much as I was very weak. My mind was weak, my eyes were drowsy, my speech was weak and slurred sometimes. I had immense back pains, tender to the touch. I had hot flushes, sweats, and then would be cold suddenly. The days would merge into each other. Sleepless, restless nights.
I remember thinking what a life!
You know, it felt like a blur. Like this wasn’t me! Who is this person, I’m not weak like this, I have a strong immune system. I just didn’t feel like me at all, it was like I was in another body.
After vomiting and the feeling after being sick and your body being put to the test, I just felt helpless, bed-bound, restless, why, can I get through this, how can I get through this, will it be like this the whole time? Lots of questions, no answers.
But the solution can only be from me, I am the solution, I am the one in control. I have to do this!
No-one can understand the bodily functions of your body when going through chemo, you feel it, it’s within you. You can't explain it and your loved ones can only see it, but that doesn't mean they will truly understand.
It’s tough for those that love you to see you in that state.
Not wanting to eat, is not good when you're on chemo – you need that strength, you need the nutrition, you need what you can get to keep your body in a fighting position.
It’s not easy, but little nibbles, little bites here and there, really really helped me get through.
The rest of the week, was probably one of the toughest bodily experiences I had been through in my whole entire life. Not to scare you, but it was just unbearable at times. Being someone who had never broken a bone or hardly got ill, it really was another level of tough.
But I learnt soo much from this experience of my first chemo. It was like a fast-track advanced course on learning about my own body. Your survival instincts do play a role and gets your mind to sync with your body and really tell you instinctively what you must eat, what you need to survive to keep you strong.
I remember laying in bed, the weakness was overcoming, the nausea was unbearable and i'd move my legs around in distress. At times I couldn't keep my eyes open and would sleep as much as I can.
Bless my husband, we were staying alone at our place during the first chemo, and he is a diamond, he did his absolute best in feeding me what he knew, what he could. But I needed much more deeply nutritious food.
He’s not a chef and can cook some real good meals, but in that state of worry and having to care for the one you love. It can play a toll on your emotions and your decision making, as the worry can be overwhelming.
I remember, near the end of the first week after chemo, he would gently and sweetly lay down next to me as I lay on the pillow resting, he would just stare at me. Wanting to help me and just be with me in every way he could and knew how. But its such a tough ordeal to go through, not just for me, but for him.
We looked at each other and just cried our eyes out – we knew he needed help in looking after me and that’s okay.
He was soo worried about food and he wasn’t sure how to cook the nutritious food I needed.
Along with all the pressure now relying on him for absolutely everything.
From running the household, cleaning, cooking, constant care, sleepless nights, having a full-time job, losing my wage, suddenly relying on one wage, paying all the bills, emotional distress.
It is a lot to deal with, so suddenly, so dramatically, just unforeseen.
I thought I was used to unforeseen circumstances in my life, but when it comes to your health, you realise it’s all we have!
But we truly appreciate the support and love we have from those who truly care and love us, we love those individuals from the bottom of our heart and they know who they are.
The perspective on life and love and people we would like to associate ourselves with have become so clear.
Clarity is key in life.