Diamond advice

I was all prepared for the pain that follows chemotherapy. I’d been hypnotised. I’d been given a white paper bag full of pain killers at hospital.

I’d even bought boots stuffed with wheat that you heat in the microwave.

But did any of this do me much good? Not really.

In the days after my last cancer treatment, the pain steadily increased. Chemo makes your joints hurt. Plus I had to inject myself in the thigh to boost my immune system. It helps the bone marrow to produce the all-important white blood cells apparently. It meant that the bones in my legs ached so badly, especially at night.

But when it came to it, I was too scared to swallow the super strong painkillers.

I know they probably would have done the trick but I think that I’m still traumatised by what happened in hospital. How close I came to dying. When I stopped breathing after having an allergic reaction to a drug to relieve the pain after surgery.

Now I was faced with taking something similar. So I chose pain.

Constantly being in agony changes your personality. A few days on from the chemo, and I was finding it hard to even talk about the pain without crying.

Then thanks to the Diamond Jubilee things changed. A bank holiday visitor came bearing a cake topped with red, white and blue icing and some simple advice. I shouldn’t just accept it. I needed to sort out the pain.

It made me realise how I’d become a shadow of myself. Willing to accept a situation that in ordinary life I would have considered unacceptable. So I made a phonecall and with the help of a chemo doctor, I changed my medicine once more.

Within an hour my body relaxed. That night I fell into a long, soft sleep. The best one since the last evil chemo cocktail.

Trying to get some rest at night has been hard. It seems like sleep fights you. Eventually, exhausted, you doze for a matter of minutes. Then the pain screams at you again and you’re awake.

Now all I have to contend with is a whole load of tiredness. And that is lovely. It’s a side effect that’s easy to deal with.

13 thoughts on “Diamond advice

  1. Oh so good – whoever brought you that cake and advice was bang on. Talking to the doctors and sorting out these side effects, if possible, is often an option that patients don’t realize is available. So glad you are sleeping again. (I found sleep to be magical during treatment. Basically the only time I didn’t have to run to another hospital appointment.)

    May it keep up!

    Catherine
    http://www.facingcancer.ca

  2. Love the boots! I’m glad you’ve sorted out your pain relief. Here’s hoping to many more restful nights.

  3. I can’t imagine how it feels. I wish it wasn’t you. If I could take a minute, an hour or a day from you I would. You’ve taken back control from the pain. One day at a time you are beating this. Stay strong my friend.

  4. Oh sweetheart… This just brought it all flooding back to me. My final chemo was in March and in some ways it seems like ages ago but when I hear about others going through it, it’s all too fresh.

    The aches and pains are like nothing anybody can prepare you for. But I want to share a couple of tips with you that worked for me. I too had to have those injections. 8 cycles of chemo and 7 of those bastard injections!! My white blood cells would run a mile as soon as anyone muttered the word ‘chemotherapy’!! My mum would do them for me as I couldn’t bring myself to stab the needle into my own body. Chicken, I know. I found the injection less painful in my side… The doctor had told me to inject into my tummy but it hurt so much. I found injecting into the love handle far better. You didn’t mention that it hurt going into your thigh but if it does, give the love handle a go!! Also, my oncologist told me to inject the day after chemo. I did this at first but then found out it was the jab, not the chemo, that was causing the pain. The chemo pain didn’t kick in for 3 days (I would have chemo on friday but not have the aches & pains til Monday) so rather than inject straight away, I would wait until Monday evening, when the chemo pain started, to inject so at least I has a couple of comfortable days. And it was quite safe to do that as the white blood cells don’t take a tumble immediately.

    I know you have to find what works best for you in the minefield that is chemotherapy but I just wanted to share this with you, so you are armed with it if you want it!

    Keep strong, brave girl… You’ll soon be through it. I know it doesn’t feel like it right now but before you know it, your oncologist will be saying “See you in 3 months” like mine did last time I saw him (I was only diagnosed in September and have already finished 8 cycles of chemo, a double mastectomy with reconstruction AND declared cancer free!) I’m sending all my kick arse cancer and positive vibes in your direction missy. Keep up the good work. Hoping the next cycle is kind to you.

    Lots of love

    Anouska xx

    • Anouska, I can’t wait til all this is just a memory too!
      Luckily it’s not too hard to find somewhere with a bit of fat at the top of my thigh for the injection ;) I don’t find it painful but I have to spend a few mins mentally preparing myself to stab my leg with the needle. My mum who is wonderful with most things can’t even bear to watch. I inject the day after chemo and the pain seems to kick in soon afterwards. Like you, it’s at it’s worse two or three days later. Next time though I’m ready with some killer pain killers! I will ask about how much flexability I have with it, thanks for the tip.
      It’s amazing that you’ve been through so much and are now out the other side and cancer free – fantastic!!! xx

  5. Hi Helen, you are doing so well and being so brave. I ran race for life on Sunday and our team raised over £1442.00, 144% more than we aimed for. I hope the money goes towards helping with the pain for all cancer sufferers. Stay strong my lovely. x

  6. Ruddy hell, not only do you have to have the chemo, you have to inject yourself with extra hurty stuff as well! Not sure why that extra indignity has to happen, I’m guessing it saves another hospital visit. And who could blame you re the painkillers, were they the same ones or kind of related? I know you shun the lazy cancer metaphors, but ‘battle’ doesn’t sound so out of place to me right now. All I can do is send a ton of admiration and hope the new pills kick in.

    • I know the hurty injection is just one more cruel thing after all the evil chemo. But so far I’ve avoided any emergency trips to hospital. Am now on different pain killers and so far they’re working :)

  7. Helen you are just super. I agree with all the people who say “why you?” But you must be lifting so many other people through your gorgeous writing. And soon, that writing will be back up on the beeb from all sorts of cool corners of the world that need your insight and skills. Vperyod!

  8. Helen, you are one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. I remember when I first met you in Kiev. You were always so happy and full of life, and just being around you made me smile. I didn’t know until later that you’d already fought one battle against this disease, and it made me admire you even more. I can’t imagine what you are going through, and reading your blog brings tears to my eyes. I just want to thank you for being you, and for giving me hope and inspiration. You are my hero.

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