Erica’s blog 11: December 17

17th December

Today was an early start. I had to shake the sparrows out of the trees!

As with every chemotherapy session you need to have a series of blood tests to check you are in a good state to take the treatment. If your immune system is compromised you might not be able to have the chemo on the scheduled day.

I arrived in Malaga at 7am and staked my claim to third in the queue outside the hospital for my blood test or ‘extraction’ as it is known here!

Finally the doors swung open and in I went to get my number and wait to be called. It was over very quickly; these people are pros as they must do a staggering number of ‘extractions’ on a daily basis!

Armed with my ticket, up I went to the oncology section on the eighth floor and handed it in and collected my appointment slip to see the oncologist later. It seemed unusually quiet, which was a good sign. I would hopefully collect my bone scan results and be given the all clear to proceed with chemo. In the meantime I went for breakfast.

I walked out into the cold morning air and with the sun rising and my stomach grumbling I made a beeline for a café. Always a good sign when you see lots of Guardia Civil and firemen having their breakfast, so I stopped there to take on fuel or bunkers as my father would call it. A life- time of sailing the high seas as Commodore in the Merchant Navy and my father’s terminology still rings in my ears!

I ordered my usual breakfast and people-watched, one of life’s most fascinating past- times, I have to say. I finished my breakfast and headed back to the hospital. I went and sat in the waiting room and saw some familiar faces. It was a very pleasant atmosphere and I sat and read my book. At 10am I was called to see the oncologist. I couldn’t believe it, normally I had to wait much longer but today was my lucky day.

In I went. My oncologist is a charming woman. She asked how I felt after my first session. I told that aside from a little cold I had tolerated the treatment very well. I also told her that I had had my coil or IUD removed. She was pleased. She told me my blood test results were perfect and that my immune system was in good shape so there would be no problem in receiving my second dose of chemo. I asked her for the results of the bone scan. She looked at my file online and said: “Good news, totally clear.” I have to say I wasn’t expecting anything negative but it is always good to have positive news. It seemed that the cancer was localised and hadn’t spread.

Whilst having my breakfast, I had bought an ice pop which the nurses kept in the fridge for me. It is important for the last dose of chemo in the session that my mouth is cold to reduce blood flow and possible ulceration of the mouth. Let’s not go into that! I just enjoyed eating my ice pop!

So I went and sat in my giant reclining seat and waited for the nurse to take my blood pressure and then put the line in. There was a young nurse, just graduated, who tried to put the line in my hand and didn’t manage it. So trusty Jesús came and got the line in a vein further up my arm. I haven’t got the best veins so it took about 20 minutes but they managed it in the end by stimulating the veins with a bag of boiling hot water. Once the drip was in, I relaxed. The first bag provides me with a stomach protector. Then your vein is cleaned out and the next bag is hooked up; then the same flushing out process until the last bag, which is toxic orange, and then one final flushing of the veins. All in all it took about three hours.

I wasn’t bored; suddenly a group of ladies arrived to accompany the lady in the chair next to me who was very nervous. They had musical instruments, Santa hats and flashing glasses, chocolates and even a bottle of aniseed! I declined the alcohol preferring to enjoy their spirit! Jorge took photos of us all and the time flew by as we laughed. What a great way to take your mind off things!

I was disconnected from the machine as it made its final beep and it was time to go. Fantastic, two down and six to go! I went with Jorge to visit his uncle, who also has cancer – seems to be quite an epidemic these days – and to have lunch with his family whom I regard as my family too. I can’t express the love and gratitude I feel toward them all. They have looked after me and cared for me in the most wonderful way.

After lunch it was back to my house as the children had arrived back from school and they had activities in the afternoon. Business as usual and my children, although they love me and care a great deal about how I am, it doesn’t get me off the hook when it comes to jobs around the house.

Oliver chirps: “Mum, where are my football socks? You have to collect my report from school on Friday.” Isabella informs me: “You have to buy me a red tutu today for the end of term dance. I have a sore throat and you need to sign this form for school.” And so it goes on but I like the routine.

Later it was time to drop Oliver at football and collect Izzie from her dance class. Then they were hungry!

It had been a long day. I took off my wig and put on a scarf. The wig gets itchy after a while. Jorge joked saying I was like a Kinder egg but full of surprises. I was starting to get used to the strange reflection that greeted me in the mirror although I still had quite a lot of hair. I tried hard not to rub my eyebrows too much as I hoped they would hang on for a bit longer. I wasn’t quite ready to see a frameless face with two blue orbs staring back at me!

That was it until 7th January, so time to concentrate on Christmas.

My tree twinkled at me every morning and I had the joy of the imminent arrival of my family to look forward to.

Life wasn’t bad at all.

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