Thursday 17th November, 2011

Treatment Cycle Number 5
  Today I spent quite a long time, but not all day this time at the hospital receiving my fifth (penultimate) dose of chemo-therapy.

The pattern of previous sessions was repeated, although I did not have to wait around to have a lumbar puncture. Four of those is deemed enough.

As a patient, I had to wait around quite a lot for the availability of the drugs and the availability of suitably trained nurses.

The long infusion of the drug Rituximab, started at 10:15, much earlier than previous weeks. (For those who are interested, Rituximab is the R in R-CHOP, the treatment I am receiving and it was the addition of the Rituximab that took the 10-year survival rate from Lymphoma to close on 50%, obviously depending on age.)

There were lots of problems with this drip. As it warms up it effervesces, and the nurses were at pains to point point out that is was not champagne. The flow metre is upset by bubbles and kept stopping. Since, I have had no adverse reaction to Rituximab in the past, they finally dispensed with the flow metre and just left gravity to do its work, which increased the flow rate dramatically.

While I was waiting for the drip to finish, I had a lot of time to reflect on progress so far.

(1) Mobility. In August, I entered hospital in a wheel chair. Today I walked into hospital without crutches or a stick and importantly, other than some muscle stiffness, without pain or discomfort. After the set-back 2 weeks ago, I have been gradually increasing the distances I have been walking without aid. but using crutches for longer distances. This evening much to Sue's disgust, I ran up the stairs in our house.

(2) Digestive System. In August, I was seriously constipated and in a great deal of pain, because one of the cancers was constricting the junctions between by small and large intestines. Now I only have sporadic discomfort. I am taking quite a lot of medication, and the chemo-therapy upsets the pattern, but the problem is virtually eliminated.

(3) Swollen feet and legs. There is still a little bit of swelling, I cannot yet get my old shoes on, but even at the end of the day, my feet still look "foot shaped".

(4) Sleep. In August, sleep was difficult, constantly interrupted by pain and the need to go to the loo. Now sleep is much easier and earlier in the week, I slept all night without having to get up for the first time in a very long time.

(5) My Relationship with God. I should have put this at the top, but I didn't want to discourage those of you are not Christians from reading this far. Before my diagnosis, I was a "nominal Christian" who went to church on some Sundays, but did not let God inconvenience my daily life. I now realise the importance of daily communication with God, through reading the Bible and prayer. From the day I was first diagnosed, God has comforted both Sue and me and answered our prayers.

Finally, a more light-hearted topic. I have reported before my project to build a library of music that has been important to me throughout my life and to make it available throughout pour house via a music server. For really old stuff, a great and very cheap source of music is the CD racks in supermarkets and Motorway Service Stations.

A few weeks ago, for just £3, I picked up a box of CDs which contained no fewer that 7 Johnny Cash albums recorded in the 1950s and early 1960s. Listening to one of the them, which I was working, I suddenly became aware of the words, which stopped me in my tracks and I just had to go back to the beginning of the track and listen again and then again.

This is a song with a very strong Christian message. Take a listen to Thats Enough. (I think this is old enough to be out of copyright; if not I apologise to the Johnny Cash estate for the lost royalties from a song that cost me around 5p to buy on CD).