That is Some Top Quality H2O

Apr 5 2010

Every weekend, Hayley and I look at our diaries for the coming week to decide how best to fit in work with chemotherapy and other miscellaneous hospital appointments. Of course this well oiled plan can be thrown completely off course by a nasty little infection requiring 48 hours in hospital.

This week, Camille was due to go in on Tuesday for the long chemotherapy session, High Dose Methotrexate. Imagine our surprise when a call came in on Monday morning, inviting us in to Addenbrooke’s that afternoon. Hayley was already at work so I downed tools and took Camille to the hospital and Hayley would follow at the end of the day.

I didn’t rush to get there as Camille was only due to be put on pre-hydration overnight which meant that I would be sat in the day unit for a considerable amount of time. By the time I got there the day unit was thinning out a bit and it wasn’t long before we were greeted by a nurse to take Camille’s vitals and to escort us to the ward. The normal ward, C2, has been closed for a couple of weeks for a deep clean and a spruce up so we had to travel to another side of the hospital and J3. They’d done a pretty good job to get the ward feeling like C2, with the parent’s room set-up with all the normal apparatus and the playroom well stocked with toys and books. The only real issue with J3 is that there is no room for Mick the chef, so all the children (and their parents who Hoover up the scraps) were left with the dinner trolley. Hayley turned up promptly after work and took over the reins right up until Thursday evening. The two of them did quite well to keep sane, with Camille now trying to master the potty once more. That coupled with the four/five days of continuous hydration that Camille undergoes with this particular dose of chemotherapy meant that she was going every twenty minutes or so. She did get a lot in the potty and on occasion she wasn’t as stealthy and ended up wetting her bed or wherever she was stationed at the time. According to Hayley, one particular time in the playroom she managed to cover the floor with high performance output from front and rear.

After the pre-hydration and twenty-four hours of chemotherapy, Camille then gets pumped with fluid to clear the chemotherapy from her system so that it does not damage vital organs. There is no set time for how long it takes to clear the drug; it’s all done on blood levels. I arrived on Thursday night and swapped with Hayley. We expected Camille’s Friday afternoon bloods to show that she was under the required level of Methotrexate, which would allow us to get home for the bank holiday weekend. Our nurse, Kelly, took her bloods at 13.15pm for the 14:00pm testing run and phoned the labs to remind them to collect the bloods. The results can take up to two hours to come back, every time a nurse looked on the system for the results they came back with no news. It wasn’t until 17:00pm that one of the nurses noticed the bloods still sitting on the station waiting for the labs to collect them. That meant that we had missed the boat to get home; she may have been medically able to leave but we will never know. They do perform these runs every six hours, so we took another set of bloods ready for 20.00pm. This time the lab did collect and I was all ready to carry the sleeping Camille to my car and get her home that night. 22.30pm came and still no bloods; by this point I was becoming increasingly frustrated. I went to sleep, after asking the overnight nurse to take an early sample for the 6.00am run, assuming that the latest blood sample had also been mislaid. I woke up in the morning to the news that the levels from the previous night had come back under the required amount and we were free to go. Camille hardly had time to perform her customary wake-up yawn before I had whipped her off the ward and into the car.

That did mean that we had three whole days together as a family. It was generally a pretty relaxing weekend, but over the week in hospital, Camille’s bum had become incredibly sore once again. It’s been causing her significant pain and we’ve even had to take the nappy off during the night. The problem is, Camille has not been as good with her potty over the last few days and we have gone through no ends of clothes, mats on the sofa and rolls of kitchen roll used to mop up the mess.

Last night we had a Soul Night fundraiser organised for the appeal by Hayley’s friend Alex. We rushed around and managed to get there pretty much on time, although Hayley only had fifteen minutes to get her make-up on, get dressed and fluff up the bouffant. Hayley and I rarely go out these days and it is normally a Camille’s Appeal fundraiser that gives us an excuse to let the hair down. So, Hayley was on the Red Bull and Vodka and I was polishing off the Carlsberg like there was no tomorrow, so needless to say, as the evening wore on, we became slightly more uncertain in words and movement. I did get up to do a quick thank you for everyone turning up and Alex organising the event; unfortunately I hadn’t planned anything. I opened with a quick joke, but not one person even tittered. As the last tumbleweed faded into the distance I continued my inept rambling for a few minutes more. I was grateful for my sister-in-law’s brother, who was over from Chicago, for whooping and cheering after I had finished pretty much every sentence; he could have laughed at the ruddy joke.

These events are great because we tend to get a wide spread of people attending who I don’t really know, and therefore the conversations I have can be enlightening and entertaining. An example of this was a conversation I had with the father of another oncology patient. The guy leads a pretty interesting life, and used to bobsleigh on different courses across Europe. By the end of the night every time I saw him, I was shouting, glass aloft, that I would be going into town to buy a Lycra suit so I could join him on the slopes. I can picture the scene, the driver jumps into the bob, head down. Second man, in; third man, in; me, balancing above the hurtling metal rocket unable to get my fifteen stone derrière into the narrow vessel. I think he was thinking the same thing as each time he politely grinned, looked me up and down and necked another short one.

Hayley was equally as inappropriate. As I was talking with Alex at the end of the night, Hayley came over and joined the conversation. Hayley’s one woman mission to embarrass me on every occasion continued when she said, “Hey Alex, you know Martin really fancies you don’t you? Come on fella, admit it”. I stared into my half full pint glass wondering whether I could drown myself in three inches of Denmark’s finest, and replied with “I think er, no, er, I mean you’re clearly attractive”. I scuttled off and found salvation in another pint. Damn my wife for embarrassing me yet again.

The girls woke up at the decent hour of 7.30am this morning. I spent the morning rehydrating myself and eating loads of food to try and beat the hangover that threatened to consume my bank holiday Monday. Hayley was not so forthcoming; she finally broke the snail barrier at 10.30am. Today was a pyjama day.