Chemo Cycle 1 – Day 8

I’m half way through my chemotherapy cycle today and waiting for the district nurse to come to my home and flush the Hickman Line with anti-coagulant to stop it blocking up.

The worst of the side effects seem to have passed although my energy level is reduced to about a quarter of normal. Whatever I’m doing I have to keep stopping and take a rest or even a quick snooze. But the soreness in my mouth is now at a tolerable level, the debilitating nausea ceased on Day 6 and the constipation is resolved. So not too bad really and so long as the treatment works, I can live with the side effects.

I’ve accommodated to the Hickman Line very quickly. But that’s not surprising really as I had one for thirty months in my previous chemotherapy treatment. Well, two actually as the first one was removed and replaced in August 2019. The insertion point of the new Line is high, right above the collar bone, and comes out a couple of inches lower. The stitches at the exit point have to stay in for another week to make sure it’s firmly embedded.

Which prompts me to speculate, who on earth was Hickman?

Quick Wiki search provides the answer.

A Hickman line is a central venous catheter used for the administration of chemotherapy or other medications, as well as for the withdrawal of blood for analysis.

Long-term venous catheters became available in 1968, and the design was improved a few years later by Dr. John W. Broviac (b. 1942), a nephrologist (kidney disease specialist) based in East Lansing, Michigan.

Robert O. Hickman further modified the principles in 1979 with subcutaneous tunneling and a Dacron cuff that formed an infection barrier. Dr. Robert O. Hickman (1927-2019) was a pediatric nephrologist at the Seattle Children’s Hospital.

There, now I know!

My understanding is that the “cuff” becomes integrated into surrounding tissue thus preventing the Line from falling out. It certainly took some force to remove the first Line I had, that’s for sure. Job done!

I managed to get in the garden yesterday and do a bit of weeding. Earlier in the year I made ambitious plans to get the wilderness back under control but didn’t get very far before my life turned upside-down again with the new secondary bone cancer diagnosis.

Apparently secondary bone cancer often occurs after primary breast cancer. The consultant said as often as 50% of cases. But is relatively unusual after primary bowel cancer. More like 5% of cases. I’ve known since the end of March that something was going wrong and was informed at the end of April that I’d developed secondary bone cancer. It’s definitely in my pelvis but I’m waiting for a bone scan to find out if it’s anywhere else. The effect on the affected area is painful and there’s an increased risk of fracture so I need to be careful lifting anything heavy or doing strenuous exercise. After an hour crawling round the garden removing weeds, my hip was aching more than when I started so I’ll have to be careful not to overdo it in future.

I’ve got these neat little grass clippers. Light weight, battery operated and brilliant for clipping patches of weeds deciding what to remove and what to keep as wild flowers.

There’s no doubt that if you let the garden go, the environment for bees and butterflies is greatly enhanced. There were five different bee varieties on one shrub yesterday and lots of them. The noise was amazing as they gorged on the blossom. Bzzzzzzzzz!

Still no sign of the district nurse. The appointment is any time morning or afternoon so could be a while yet. Doesn’t matter, I’m not going anywhere! Must be time for a cuppa, so I’ll put the kettle on.