Here I am sorting out the 9 different types of pills that I’ve been given to take at various times over the course of each week. So the full list of my 10 chemotherapy drugs is:
- Bortezomib (Velcade) (The “V” of my CVD chemotherapy)
- Cyclophosphamide (The “C” of my CVD chemotherapy)
- Dexamethasone (The “D” of my CVD chemotherapy)
- Omeprazole (to protect the stomach from the steroid use)
- Aciclovir (an antiviral)
- Co-trimoxazole (an antibiotic)
- Ondansetron (an antiemetic [against nausea] for cyclophosphamide usage)
- Allopurinol (to counter excess uric acid in the blood plasma)
- Domperidone (an antiemetic)
- Clarithromycin (an antibiotic).
The last two are reserves to be used when I need them, but that still leaves me with 8 different drugs to have throughout the week.
Of the 10 (ten!) different drugs I was prescribed today, it’s only the Velcade (Bortezomib) that I need to attend the chemo ward to have administered intravenously. The rest are pills/tablets/capsules which I have to take throughout the week at a bewildering spread of times, such that I have to have a spreadsheet to tell me what to take when.
The IV administration of the Velcade is actually pretty easy. The nurses tell me I have “lovely veins”. I think that means “bulgy”. The 2nd worst bit of the whole procedure is the “sharp scratch!” (as all the nurses love saying) when the needle goes in. The worst bit is taking off the palm sized plaster which holds the cannula in place on the back of my hand. My tolerance of needles has climbed significantly in the last few months, but I’m seriously considering shaving the back of my hand. Though soon there may not be many hairs left to shave off…
Anyway I just need to be hooked up to the saline drip for a few minutes before the nurse double-and-treble checks that I am me, before adding a small syringe of Velcade to the line and squeezing it in over just a couple of minutes. Some other chemo drugs need to drip in over a long period of time, so I’m lucky. Then there’s just a few following minutes of flushing with saline before the plaster can be whipped off (owwww….), the cannula can come out and I can head home.
Explanation for foreigners from outside Hampshire – “Hamwic” was one of the Anglo-Saxon names for Southampton (Wikipedia link). Sheesh, I lure you here on the basis of your sympathy for my condition and I’m already shoe-horning an etymology lecture in. I’ll try not to do that too much.
It’s a pleasant enough place to visit, apart from the the “WTF?!” reaction I have every time I head through the main foyer, past the Costa Coffee outlet (OK, it’s a hospital, people need coffee), past the W H Smith (useful – papers to pass the time, last minute grapes and chocolates) and see the Burger King smack bang on the main T-junction of the hospital (Oh come on, was the franchisee’s bid really that irresistible?).
So the big day has arrived – my first day of chemo. Have an appointment at midday in the chemotherapy day ward at Southampton General Hospital, which is fortunately just a couple of miles away from home. I was tempted to cycle up there, as I have for all the diagnostic tests, but I suppose I’d better see what this chemo malarkey is like before I try cycling afterwards…