On Monday 25th October, I was back on the chemo ward to start cycle 6! Everything went smoothly, and once again, I had my two hour dose of IV magnesium. I am also continuing with my potassium drinks at home. I passed the time by teaching my aunt how to play Top Trumps (over the weeks I have introduced her to several new games), chatting to my wonderful friend Rosie who came to see me at lunchtime on the chemo ward and by doing more online clothes shopping! This seems to be becoming a weekly occurrence, so perhaps I should leave my phone and wallet at home next Monday…
The highlight of Monday was discovering the real reason behind my funny tummy that started a couple of weeks ago, and has taken a while to calm down. Initially, it was thought that magnesium drinks had upset my tummy, and whilst they may have contributed to it, the main reason was because I had some how got Salmonella! Everybody was totally shocked by this, particularly because I did not get sick and did not lose my appetite. The only problem I had was going to the toilet a lot more than usual! I have had food poisoning on several occasions and always been quite poorly from it, so it surprises me that I seem to have sailed through this bout of Salmonella! To be on the safe side, I’m now on a course of antibiotics for the next week.
I have two chemo sessions left before my CT scan will be repeated, so I thought I would share what I keep in my chemo bag. My siblings prepared this bag for me before my very first chemo session in June, and lots of things have been added to it since. I find this bag very handy because you never know if you will be on the chemo ward longer than anticipated. For example, you might find yourself there longer if you need IV magnesium or a blood transfusion, so it is good to have things to keep you occupied!
My chemo bag essentials
1) My mindful colouring book of swear words from my wonderful colleagues is always with me for chemo. This is book is actually permanently in my handbag because I love it so much! The words (often very explicit) in this book remind me that I am pushing ‘Cyril’ out of the boxing ring!
2) I have a wide selection of games in my chemo bag (some childhood favourites). Thank you to everybody who has purchased games for me. They have not only kept me occupied during chemo, and in the hospital, but also at home.
3) I also keep a comfy pair of trousers (on loan from my sister) and a hoodie (on loan from my brother) in my bag. The trousers are handy if I find myself on the chemo ward for a lot longer than planned, and the hoodie is handy when I have the cold cap on.
4) I also keep Jennifer Young mint foot cream in my bag. I got this product using the vouchers that my school generously gave me when I started my chemotherapy. Jennifer Young specializes in beauty products for chemotherapy treatment. For more information look at: http://www.jenniferyoung.co.uk/. I keep this is my bag because my wonderful auntie gives me fantastic foot massages, which I find very relaxing when having chemo.
5) There is also a very cool bag (a gift from friends) in my chemo bag. It is full of jelly beans and other sweet things. This comes in handy after I have had my premeds, two paracetamol, Lorazepam and my anti sickness tablet. This is because I have five minutes or so where I feel like I am drunk and often end up in fits of giggles! These few minutes take me back to my Birmingham University days, and the nights that proved I could not handle too much alcohol; one of which resulted in me falling asleep on the floor of a toilet cubicle in a club! For the purpose of this trip down memory lane, I have included a photo from that infamous night (it is before my little sleep because this was not caught on camera)! I was funnily enough reminded of the other photo (the one where I am sporting a very interesting facial expression) this week. It is further proof from another night when I once again showed that I can’t handle my drink!
6) I keep my slipper socks in my bag as well because I find them more comfortable than shoes when you are sitting down for long periods of time. Grip on the bottom of shoes or socks is important on the ward as hospital floors are often slippery.
7) My earphones are always in my bag because I have found music is very calming for me, particularly when I feel very anxious, and it feels like my heart is popping out of my chest.
8) My wooden comb, Paxman conditioner and soft headband are also in my chemo bag because I am using the cold cap during the treatment. The nurses use the comb when they prep my hair for the cold cap and they put the Paxman conditioner on. The headband helps to make the cold cap feel more comfortable because it covers my ears and avoids them from freezing!
9) I also carry my journal in my bag. My siblings got me this journal before chemo began in June and started it with a childhood photo. It is now full of messages of support and photos. I keep it with me at chemo because I have met some very inspirational people on the ward, whose words of encouragement have been a huge help to me and they have written in my journal. This journal has become so important to me because in my low moments I can look at it, and it helps to give me the boost that I need.
I hope that sharing what I keep in my chemo bag can be of help to others. Without a doubt, this bag has been like a bag of sunshine that has helped to brighten up each chemo session. I don’t always use everything in it but knowing that I have it all there with me is always such a help.