Blues and Two Hours

Jul 24 2009

So the plan was for Hayley and Camille to be taken to Addenbrookes on Thursday morning at 6.00am by ambulance and for me to meet them there ready for our 8.00am appointment for her first Chemotherapy session and to remove the infected Hickman line.

I left the house at 6.15am expecting to have a pretty clear road to Cambridge and to hopefully be there soon after the ambulance arrived. At 6.30am Hayley called me to tell me that the ambulance was yet to arrive. This wasn't a disaster as Cambridge is probably only an hour or so from Ipswich. 7.00am arrived and still no ambulance, by this point I was approaching the outskirts of Cambridge.

I arrived in the hospital car park at 7.15am and still no ambulance at Ipswich. I could have easily driven them myself as Camille was in a more than adequate condition for her own father to transport her, but Ipswich insisted on her being their responsibility. I went to the Pediatric Day Unit but it wasn't open yet, so I had to hang around until the lights came on at 8.00am; still no ambulance.

As I went in I saw our Special Oncology Nurse, who had already heard the news. The surgery was allocated a time which had to be moved and she had got in early specifically to get Camille started on the Chemotherapy. I received a call from Hayley who had been pretty upset over the last hour saying that she was in the ambulance and they were en route. Of course the ward blamed the ambulance service and visa versa , but it didn't matter who made the mistake, after all the delays and frustrations we had experienced, it only mattered that Camille was able to start the process to cure. The staff at Addenbrookes were very reasonable and were happy to accommodate us despite the inconvenient delay.

The ambulance arrived in Cambridge in a record 53 minutes and the girls were delivered to the PDU an hour late but in one piece and ready for the Chemotherapy. A quick check over Camille from the registrar and the Chemotherapy began. The first drug Vincristine injected through her infected Hickman line followed by an hour drip for the Carboplatin . All of this time we kept her quiet by playing Peppa Pig DVDs on the portable DVD player over an over again. As the actual process of giving this course of Chemotherapy was quite simple and quick we hardly realised the significance of what was happening; this in conjunction with the Oncology Consultant talking to us about the ridiculous media hype of the Swine Flu Pandemic made the hour fly by.

By the time Camille had finished the drip of Carboplatin , the Anaesthetists were waiting to send her to sleep to remove the infected Hickman line. Within seconds she was out, a much easier injection of drugs into the Hickman line. This has to be the preferred method going forward, as the gas mask had began to look too traumatic for Camille and was certainly not something that Hayley or myself could cope with too many times.

Ten minutes passed and she was done, it was a really simple procedure and we hardly had time to have a drink of water before she was wheeled out into the ward for recovery. In fact it wasn't long until we were able to leave Cambridge but with the unfortunate news that we had to go back to Ipswich Hospital for a further night of observations and antibiotics . In fact the antibiotics are due to be administered for a further ten days or so, which requires hospital staff to inject directly into the vein. This will normally require us to drop in every day over that period to get this done.

Addenbrookes saw more sense in us travelling back together in my car and we took the opportunity to pop in to see Lucia on the way back. She was really into her own world playing with the copious amounts of toys available at Nanny's house and I was concerned that Hayley would be worried about Lucia and her feelings towards us. I was probably worried about Hayley because I was actually a little concerned myself, but I did see the occasional flash of Lucia wanting us, which was probably just enough for me to feel comfortable about one more night away from her.

The doctors did rounds at the normal time this morning and soon afterwards the pharmacy had delivered the multiple medicines that Camille is due and we were able to go home for what could be twelve days. Lucia is now back in our care which has been great for the few hours we've been back. Camille is in great spirits and even though she has now begun Chemotherapy she is showing no signs of nausea, headaches or the other nasties that can go along with it. We've had a date of 11th August for the new Hickman line to be put in, two days after her next course of Chemotherapy finishes.

I popped back to hospital later this evening to get Camille's dose of antibiotics administered, and was disappointed to find that they needed to take bloods for her blood count and to check the infection. Camille has difficult veins and after one messy attempt by a young registrar, Camille was in a bit of a state. A further attempt by the on duty consultant got the blood they needed but this added on to all the other procedures that she has had performed on her, has clearly caused some damage to Camille mentally. She is very scared of all doctors and nurses now and the next two weeks without an easy access Hickman line could be very difficult.