Sunday, 27 September 2015

How to: Become a Pharmacist

Easy! Just develop a serious condition that requires a range of medications to offset the side effects of the treatment you receive. In my case my Mum was the main 'pharmacist', and at the peak she was giving me 40 tablets a day.
These have included: Lactulose (although this didn't really do anything), Movicol, Prednisolone, Domperidone, Granisetron, Norethisterone, Paracetamol, Gabapentin, Sevredol, Fentanyl patches and slow release Morphine. I've had a range of different chemo drugs too, that we had to learn the name of so that we knew how long we were going to be at QMC as they took different amounts of time on different days: Vincristine (bleugh!), Etoposide, Doxorubicin, Cyclophosamide and Dacarbazine.
We were given a lot of different leaflets, but none prepared us for the amount of baffling names of drugs. Also, dealing with that many tablets under stress that a mistake could cause problems and under the initial shock of the diagnosis makes the job much harder. Help with that, such as organisation or writing out a plan etc., I think could reduce this stress.
Now I'm coming off painkillers also means that the amount of certain tablets changes between morning, lunchtime and evening. Again, this must be done carefully and slowly to ensure no withdrawal symptoms, and this is a balancing act in itself - however there has been much more help with this.
Despite the stressful situation, she did a great job. Thanks Mum :)

Saturday, 26 September 2015

"You're so brave!"

A line which so many have said to me over the last 7 months. I'm brave for getting on with treatment. Am I?
I understand that people say that to support you, let you know they are thinking of you and to make you feel better about the way you are dealing with the situation - but I don't feel brave. Firefighters, police, the armed forces and paramedics - they are brave, walking into situations they may not know anything about to help or protect people that they don't know, so in comparison I'm just not.
At the end of the day, and this is the brutal truth, I faced 2 choices when I was diagnosed: have treatment or die. So I basically had one choice which meant sacrificing 6 - 9 months of my life in order to have the rest of it. That seemed like a pretty fair deal.
I appreciate all of the support I've received from family and friends, and with 2 radiotherapy sessions left, that's probably why I feel like this, as hindsight (as usual) is a wonderful thing, and for me is like wearing rose tinted glasses as I know chemo was bad, but don't remember it being that bad now.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Using a wheelchair

I am very lucky that I have only ever used a wheelchair once before in my life when my leg was in a cast, but the side effects of chemo meant that for a few weeks I needed to use a wheelchair when out and about as I couldn't walk far. I have had some interesting experiences whilst using it.
My Mum pushed me the majority of the time, saving my arms, but we have hit things in shops that maybe don't consider the width of a wheelchair quite enough. Lifts are usually available in shopping centres etc. but they don't think about making them large enough to turn the wheelchair around whilst in there so it can be pushed out forward rather than being struggled out backwards and perhaps into the path of other people.
Dropped kerbs sometimes weren't quite dropped enough either, meaning we had to reverse over some so that the larger wheels could negotiate it. Once we parked in a car park that when we tried to cross the road from it, we realised the kerb wasn't dropped opposite it, and rather that it was dropped 150m further down the road. This meant I had to be pushed down the middle of the road, with my Mum running as fast as she could behind me: not exactly ideal.
As much as I'm sure disabled access has improved over the years, from my short experience I've spotted several things that just haven't been thought through properly.