She's Awake! Moscow

Oct 24 2009

Like any other chemotherapy week, this one followed a similar pattern: the Monday morning visit from Mary, our local Outreach Sister who comes to our house to take Camiille's bloods.....

Like any other chemotherapy week, this one followed a similar pattern: the Monday morning visit from Mary, our local Outreach Sister who comes to our house to take Camille’s bloods before chemotherapy to see if she is good to go. The next day, Lucia gets dropped at Pre-school and then the phone call goes in to Addenbrookes to see if they have a bed for Camille that day. Not once have we had the big thumbs up from this conversation to say “Yeah, loads of them, come on in”. The normal conversation goes something like, “Hi this is Camille’s Mum/Dad, just wondering if there was going to be a bed for her today?” The reply is usually “Well, we’re not sure at the moment, can we give you a call back?” The wait then seems to go on forever before we end up calling back later in the afternoon to be greeted with “Come on down!” This week was slightly different; we actually got the call back in double quick time to say we were good to go.

We arrived at Cambridge early afternoon and went through the normal process of sitting in the Day Unit for some time before a doctor sees Camille for a once over, a nurse will take her vitals and weigh her and then like some other times, they will connect her up there and then to save time once she goes through to the ward. It was gone five before we hit the ward this time, but actually it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Don’t get me wrong about this process, when Camille first began her chemotherapy I thought it was barbaric that I had to wait a few hours for a call or an hour for her to be weighed and seen to. Now that we’ve spent some time on the ward we really now understand the constraints on bed space, the level of work the consultants have on and the pressures on the nursing staff dealing with people like me loitering with nappies around the nurse’s station (they have to be weighed, I’m not showing off the prowess of Camille’s bowel movements).

The Cyclophosphomide is a 24 hour session, so she was due to finish at 1.00pm on the Wednesday. I again had a meeting that morning, a 10.30am in Lincoln, it was going to be nip and tuck whether I would be able to get back before the nurses drove the girls out of the ward. I arrived in Lincoln perfectly for 10.30am and waited for my boss Gary to show up. 11.00am the BMW flew around the corner and Gary leapt out not even giving himself time to light-up for his customary three drags before going into the meeting. My eyes were firmly on my watch throughout, 11.50am arrived; it was time to wrap up as I knew it would be a good hour and a half to get back to Cambridge. Midday, ticked over and a bead of sweat slowly passed between ear and left eye. Unlike my last meeting where I struggled to close, I had to jump in and explain frankly that if I didn’t go, I was going to be losing at least one testicle and the ability speak for some time. The threat of ripping one off and shoving it down my neck had not been realised but was still a button I didn’t want to push.

I flew down the A1, which is good because the road is chocker block with speed cameras, and made it to Addenbrookes at 2.00pm, an hour after the Chemotherapy was due to finish and 30 minutes after my morning projection to Hayley. Not a bad effort considering the amount of trucks and rain magnetically attached to my path. I was in luck, as she was then on the verge of being let out. As I walked in Camille vomited, a lot, and that’s how she was for a good two days afterwards.

That evening, the phone rang, and it was Ali from Addenbrookes. It seems that one of her chemotherapy drugs was missed off due to some confusion around whether the dose was going to be reduced or not. We had an option; Ipswich Hospital could give the chemotherapy on Friday once they have had time to make the specific does up. Hayley decided to just drive to Cambridge the next day to save any issues of communication between hospitals. And off she went the following morning.

Thursday night we had our monthly meeting of the Camille’s Appeal committee with a new member Stewart. We tend to hold these meetings in a neutral place and plumped for a hotel bar in a small town in the bundies. I set about getting the round in with the Eastern European / Russian barmaid who was clearly on her first shift. Every drink I asked for she asked if I would like a glass, “Can I have a bottle of Becks please?” she would reply “Beeks? OKaay, would you like glass?” which is fine. “Errm, can I have a Slimline Tonic Water please?” again this one comes in a bottle so she asked “Tonica, errr, would you like glass?” as she popped the stumpy Schweppes bottle on the bar. “Yes please”. I then followed up with “… and two pints of Fosters Extra Cold please?” Before she had a chance to scope the bar for where the Fosters may live, she asked the all too common question, “Would you like glass?” I stopped and looked at the Fosters pump and considered my options before deciding that sticking my mouth under the pump would be frowned upon and again went for the glass option. Paying was also an experience, but luckily her more equipped colleague came to her rescue to save my bill hitting treble figures.

Half way through the meeting, a phone call came from my parents to say that Camille was in a horrific state wanting her Mummy. This was really the first time we’ve both been away from her and it was probably a bit too much for my parents to deal with. When she gets like that, it is extremely hard to get her to calm down. Hayley had to leave the meeting with her sister Kristen who had driven us. Hayley’s parting comment was “My life just isn’t mine anymore”, something that no one could argue with, but something that needs to be addressed. I’ve been thinking hard about how I can help wean Camille off Hayley. I’ve put an idea to Hayley that I take a week off and take control of Camille for the whole week with Hayley only being in the house during the day and not near her when she goes to bed. Hayley’s not so keen on this idea, but I think it would work, and I think we’re in such a sticky mess with Camille’s reliance of Hayley now that we need to be extreme in our actions.

I went to the gym yesterday for an hour PUMPING IRON in readiness for the Three Peaks next week. When I got back, Hayley’s sister was sitting with Lucia. Hayley had taken Camille to the hospital due to strange breathing. I sit here now, in the hospital room with Camille in the bed next to me. She has got an infection and is also neutrapenic, so 48 hours of antibiotics is on the menu and a weekend of hospital time for us.