So here we are! Finally, for the first time since being admitted to hospital nearly 2 weeks ago, I feel well enough to pen a bit of an update.
In a nutshell, the chemo tablets gave me a severe and potentially life-threatening side-effect called Chemotherapy-Induced Colitis. This is not to be recommended. My understanding is that my guts basically just gave up, which led to monumental, torrential, unending diarrhoea and a fair bit of vomiting too. Not to mention pain. And hallucinations. And bloating. I was unable to eat anything for nearly 10 days but on arrival in hospital they quickly hooked me up to some TPN which runs intravenously 20 hours per day and theoretically provides all the nutrition one needs, although judging by how I look right now, you could have fooled me. I resemble a recovering crack addict.
My appetite is finally beginning to reappear – yesterday I had part of a croissant for breakfast and then soup for lunch and supper, and today I have already enjoyed a bowl of rice crispies which was illogically good, and a cup of tea. The appetite appears therefore to be returning. Obviously I can't go home until I can eat enough to sustain myself without the intravenous feed.
The vomiting has now stopped, the diarrhoea continues with gusto – anything up to about 18 times a day if you're into figures – and my belly is very bloated and moderately
uncomfortable. I've been on intravenous antibiotics since about day 3 and this is helping but it's now a question of time to allow my guts to settle before I'm allowed home. Probably another week or so.
I'm due an MRI tomorrow to see what has gone on with the tumour in the interim from where they will be able to decide what happens next. Further chemo is unlikely for the time being so it may be radiotherapy, they may operate sooner rather than later, we just don't know at this stage. Either way, I'm in good hands and many of them, so I know they'll do whatever is in my best interests.
Amazingly, but basically because of the diarrhoea, I've been in my own room since day one which is a monumental bonus although, nearly two weeks in, I long for a bit of
a change – being wheeled out on a bed for a scan or an X-ray provides an element of sensory overload and is bizarrely wonderful! That said, I'm just about strong enough now to walk a bit so I'm trying to make regular forays into the corridor to get things moving a bit.
Bekky has been by my side practically every waking hour since admission and has been truly, mind-bogglingly amazing in her courage, stoicism, optimism and in generally looking after me – bringing me non-NHS food and drink to pick at, pyjamas, a duvet, washing me, fetching things for me, sometimes spending 12 hours straight by my side while I doze, complain, and generally struggle. She has been a perfect, shining example of how one side of a marriage can support another in darker days. I've not felt well enough for visitors, not even my own parents, but having my wife by my side has turned a hideous situation into a bearable one. Without wishing to gush, I thank you Bekky May – you will never fully comprehend what a difference you have made to my existence over the last couple of weeks.
I also gather people in the outside world have in turn been doing an astonishing job of looking after Bekky – laundry services, meals on wheels, gardening, daily dog sitting etc and it helps me hugely to know that people are there for her too. Thank you all, even those who have offered – you know who you are.
So today will be spent largely horizontal but I plan read the Sunday papers, potentially have a bit of lunch – all the food smells and tastes the same but my eyes have already been drawn to the chicken casserole – and stroll up the corridor and back, all things I couldn't have faced doing even a couple of days ago.
Bekky will be along shortly (she's usually here by 0830 but today I’m glad to say she had a bit of a lie in this morning), the day will chunter by and hopefully in 24hrs I'll be feeling better still. But we'll see.
One day at a time and all that.