BEP Cycle 3 Day 2

Wednesday 17 July 2019

I felt pretty decent waking up. I made a glass of citrus juice and ate a banana. I was going to call the hospital at 8:30, but they called me first to ask how soon I could come in. Given that I had a lung function test booked for 13:30, chemo wouldn’t be able to start until after that. We decided that I’d come in around midday so that they could take some blood and things, then I’d go for the lung function test.

We headed off about 10:30 and had a fairly easy drive in, except for some delay in Bristol due to an Extinction Rebellion protest blocking a busy intersection near the hospital. We found a parking space in the first place we looked, which was good. Parking is generally quite difficult around the hospital.

When I got up to the ward, I found that they had given me the same private room that I’d had in cycle 2, which was a nice surprise! The nurses got started by trying to take some blood from my PICC line, but nothing was coming. It seemed that there was a blockage in my line, so they took blood via a needle from my other arm instead. I was given a shot of fluid into my PICC line to resolve the blockage.

With a blockage in my PICC line, blood had to be taken the traditional way from my other arm

Pia and I wandered down to another part of the hospital for my lung function test. It was basically a repeat of the test I had done six weeks earlier. The physiologist said that the results looked fairly normal and quite close to those in my baseline test. I’d largely expected that, as despite having a heavy chest and a lot of coughing, I was still able to take full deep breaths without any problems.

Breathing in and out of a tube as part of the lung function test

On the way back to the ward, we stopped at the little Marks & Spencer store to get some food. Once back, I had my PICC line redressed and I was given my premeds: Akynzeo and Dexmethasone. I was also visited by one of the germ cell oncologists who I had not met before. He had a good bedside manner and was pleasant to talk to. When I mentioned to him how I could trigger the nerve pain in my right forearm by pressing on my ear, he could not think of any explanation, but he said that cisplatin can sometimes affect nerves in an unusual way.

Chemo got started around 16:30

I ended up having to wait a while for chemo to get started. I was finally hooked up around 16:30 for the usual day 1 routine:
Etoposide – 500 ml over one hour
Etoposide – 500 ml over one hour
Saline – 1000 ml over one hour
Mannitol – 400 ml over half an hour
Cisplatin – 500 ml over one hour
Electrolyte solution – 1000 ml over two hours

Pia and I watched a couple of films as the treatment got going. I was also brought some hospital dinner consisting of lentil pie, peas, carrots and potatoes. Pia left a bit after 19:00 and had a fairly easy drive home. I was feeling pretty exhausted by this point, but listened to a couple of podcasts and watched a docu-film while the treatment progressed. One of the nurses brought me my evening Clexane injection around 21:00.

As per cycles 1 & 2, I was making a lot of toilet trips and filled several bottles for the nurses to take away. I was finally detached from my IV pump shortly after 1 am and went to sleep quite easily after that.

BEP Cycle 1 Day 2

Wednesday 05 June 2019

After something of a patchy sleep, I woke about 6:30 for the toilet. I lay awake for a little after that then sat up sometime soon after 7:00. The nurses did their handover about 8:00 and I had my blood pressure, pulse and temperature taken. I was offered some breakfast, but I settled for a banana which I had with me and a cup of green tea.

After that I got to meet the chap in the bed next to me called Dave. He’d had a rough day the day before, which is why I hadn’t already had the chance to speak to him. He was a really nice guy though who was very chatty when he was able. It’s nice to have someone to talk to.

I wasn’t feeling too bad in the morning, but very tired and a bit fragile.

I had an appointment for a lung function test at 10:15, so I got myself washed and dressed and headed off to another block of the hospital. The lung function test took about 20 minutes and involved breathing in and out of a monitored tube which had a snorkel-like mouthpiece. One exercise looked at overall lung capacity and strength of exhalation, and another on gas transfer time. Both tests came out with fairly normal results. I expect that I will perform these tests again at the end of my chemotherapy treatment to see if I’ve deviated from this baseline at all. Bleomycin can affect the lungs, so I imagine it’s common for patients to experience some short-term degradation.

I was feeling quite alright after that, so I headed up to the hospital restaurant on the top floor and found a table next to a sunny window to sit down at. I had a smoothie and some green tea, and I pulled out my laptop and made a start on writing this blog (at the time of writing, I’m almost three weeks behind!).

I went back to the ward after a bit. Pia came to meet me about 13:00. She’d brought food, so we ate a little. Around 14:00 the nurses gave me some Dexmethasone (steroids), Omeprazole (which helps with acid reflux whilst on steroids) and Metoclopramide (an anti-sickness drug). I also had the dressing on my PICC line changed, as it was looking a little messy from having been put in the day before. With the PICC line, I was given a PICC Passport, which is a log book that is written to each time the PICC is cleaned, dressed or altered. Cleaning and redressing needs to be done every week. This works out to be quite easy for me, as I’ll be having either inpatient or day chemo every week anyway, so no extra trips to the hospital will be necessary.

My brother, Peter, who had come to look after the children while I was in hospital and Pia was spending a lot of time with me, had decided to take them to Airhop, a trampoline park in Bristol, during the afternoon, so he and the girls dropped into the hospital on their way. Pia and I met them at reception and we went for a walk into Bristol. I don’t know Bristol very well, so it was nice to have a wander around. We had a look around an indoor market and stopped to grab a cup of tea (green for me) before heading back to the hospital and saying goodbye.

Despite being quite tired, I managed the day quite well. No pain or nausea. I got started on my chemo session around 16:00. Today’s menu was:

Etoposide – 500 ml over one hour
Etoposide – 500 ml over one hour
Saline – 1000 ml over one hour
Mannitol – 400 ml over half an hour
Cisplatin – 500 ml over one hour
Electrolyte solution – 1000 ml over two hours
Bleomycin – 250 ml over two hours

So it was basically the same as for day 1 but with the addition of Bleomycin.

The bag changes were a bit slower than the night before and the session finished after 3:00 am. I was quite knackered by the time Pia left around 20:00. I started watching a film, but didn’t get very far before I could no longer concentrate. I managed to snooze a bit during the last couple of bags, which was good. After that, I managed to sleep quite solidly for the rest of the night (between toilet trips).