From 24th July to 24th August I was in between hospital and the start of the three month chemo programme. My consultant was Sunjay Jain … fit, warm, up-front, friendly, 40-ish. He explained the programme:
The removal of the tumour had left cancer cells embedded in the bladder wall graded at 3B which is medium size. Cancer might just have spread to the two lymph glands on each side of the bladder in growths too tiny to be revealed on a scan. The chemo is just in case. The programme has four phases of three weeks: Week 1 – a whole day, Week 2 – a couple of hours or so, Week 3 – a rest week including an appointment for feedback. The day before each chemo session there’s a ‘Pre-assessment’ to ensure I’m fit enough for the chemo … e.g. temperature, blood pressure, blood test. At the end of the chemo programme there’ll be a gap of a month before the 5-hour op – a 10 day stay including the first two or three in intensive care – to remove the bladder and to establish a ‘stoma’ – a large pink nipple – to carry urine to the outside bag. I was reassured by Mr Jain’s comment that they do one such op a week. Routine.
For the first few days after my hospital stay I was tired and restricted to very short outings. Peeing was still yelp-painful (but not at the ‘Saw it off slowly’ level) and, as the pain started with the pressure, I was glad of the brown fibre bottle I’d brought from the hospital.
After the first week or so I was a little more active and Anthea took me to Carphone Warehouse in Leeds to set me up with a new I-Phone. Looking back I see this elderly customer in a high-tech, gleaming shop chatting to a pretty lass from Poland with a fibre pee-bottle sticking out of his shoulder-bag like a baguette.
On 8th August we met Dr Jagdev for the first time … hefty glasses, authoritative, 40-odd. She’s in charge of four oncology suites and supervises chemo programmes. She went through what my programme would involve and explained all the possible side-effects of chemo some of which would require immediate medical help.
I was eager to get started and was disappointed to find at my first pre-assessment that a urinary infection had raised my temperature above the tolerable limit for chemo. I was prescribed antibiotics and was laid low by the infection.
The first day-long chemo session was then re-fixed for Friday 24th August.