Friday, 14 March 2014

Back from the Brink

At 6pm on Tuesday March 4th, we contacted the oncology helpline as I was unable to breathe, couldn't mobilise from bed and still had a high temperature and we felt that I needed to be in hospital. We waited for the paramedics to arrive and was hooked up to oxygen and taken in the ambulance to AMU and wheeled into a private room where once again I had a cannula fitted and blood taken to ensure I wasn't experiencing neutropenia. 

A junior doctor performed the Oxygen Saturation Test/Arterial Blood Gas Test - where the arterial blood can be tested for oxygen levels and blood is drawn from the artery rather than the vein.

As soon as my blood tests were returned as normal (and not prone to infections) I was moved onto the main ward of AMU and then moved to 23N. I came into hospital able to mobilise to the toilet to being unable to mobilise from the bed to a commode without oxygen and with the help of staff. I was put on IV (drip)antibiotics 3-4 times a day which unfortunately were not strong enough to clear any infection and therefore my health was deteriorating and I became incredibly ill even though I was in hospital. It took 3 days to arrange a CT scan as the doctors suspected a blood clot to the left lung as the x-ray on arrival on both Friday and Tuesday had identified shadowing to the left lower lung. The lung consultant visited me on ward 23N on Friday to explain that he was unhappy with the anti-biotics I was on and that they would not shift any infection I had. He explained that he was not happy with the diagnosis given following the CT scan and said that if he was to believe the extensive shadowing to both lungs on the images, I would actually be in intensive care. He said that if you are unable to breathe during the CT scan this kind of imaging appears. He said that I would be transferred onto the respiratory ward and placed onto stronger antibiotics to clear the infection.  I was transferred at 5:30 on Friday evening. By Monday/Tuesday I was able to walk to the toilet with oxygen, which felt like a huge achievement and by this stage I was being treated for bilateral pneumonia.

The consultant was unsure to whether I had glass effect shadowing to the lungs due to the chemotherapy drugs but the oncologist had already said that FEC drugs usually are not connected to lung damage/shadowing. 

During my stay in hospital all injections, cannulas fitted and blood has had to be taken from the left arm (right arm out of bounds due to lumpectomy and possible lymphoedema)and trying to find a vein they could use started to become problematic, especially as the doctor popped the only vein she could find.

Prior to discharge I was able to see my oncologist and consultant to discuss chemotherapy. On Tuesday they discussed my case at the Multi Disciplinary meeting (MDT) and one consideration was that maybe I am allergic to the chemotherapy drugs, however this is not conclusive as I breezed through cycle 1-3. We discussed reducing the dosage from 100% down to 75% on cycle 5 and review the situation prior to cycle #6 and hope I am not allergic and end up back in hospital for 9 days. My breast cancer specialist nurse said that not many people are able to sustain treatment on 100% and so 4 cycles at the highest dose was good going. 

I do not have the added bonus in taking tablets as a `backup' plan for the next 5 years post treatment and as chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the only course of treatment available we want to continue to increase the survival rate and try and stave off a recurrence in the future. 

Hubby bought me some new PJ's

I am now back at home with a rash to both arms
BUT at least I can breathe, eat healthily and have a decent wash.

My next appointment at the chemotherapy day centre is Monday 31st of March for cycle#5 which is 3 weeks and 3 days later than planned, which allows my body enough time to recover from the 9 days in hospital. 

In 6 weeks time I need to attend hospital for an x-ray to check on shadowing on the lungs and the progress of recovery.


Dear Tami
Thank you very much for your entry to our competition to be a Vita blogger. We received almost 100 applications and the standard was very high so it has been a very difficult process deciding who our new bloggers will be.
We have tried to pick winners who have a range of different breast cancer experiences as well as being skilled writers. That meant we have had to overlook some candidates who were excellent writers. Unfortunately, although your blog was on our final shortlist, it was not chosen as one of the winning entries but we wish you every success with your writing in future.
Best wishes
Pete Coles
Breast Cancer Care

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