How did I become the Face of Death?
Tossing and turning...
Aching back....That was just Thursday night.
That night was not easy, and I knew something was wrong.
Flash forward to the morning.... it is true when they say 'everything will look better in the morning' and it did...for while.
My husband went to work as usual and I didn't feel as crap as I did the previous night.
It got to around 3pm when something didn't seem right again! The coughing had got worse and I felt really tired, like how an Uber driver must feel after a row with a cabbie tired.
I called Matt in the afternoon and told him I was going to try and arrange a GP appointment.
My temperature was below 38 but my voice was nice and husky.. just like the one Phoebe Buffet craved, except I didn't lick someones used snot rag, and smelly cat was definitely not responsible.
Appointment was booked, but some communication between Matt and my Key worker led me to cancel the appointment and go straight to A&E.
I waited for Matt to get home, poor guy... another half day in the office - and once he arrived, we rushed straight there.
It was around 4:30pm when we pulled up to the North Middlesex Hospital carpark, and luckily, as it's where I have my Chemotherapy, there was no need to pay for parking, got my Chemo badge to park for free you see.. A&E can be the longest of waits and I HATE paying for parking.
We walked up to those annoying sliding glass doors, the ones that immediately give you the sense of 'I'm a sick person' and somehow a limp gets worse as you get to reception...
We then joined the queue to book in with the rushed receptionist. As you can imagine A&E in Edmonton on a Friday night was packed out! I was dreading the wait but remembered, I had cancer!
I have an Emergency Chemo Card (almost like having a Nandos black card) that I have to keep in my purse which states that I will be seen within the hour. One good thing to come out of having cancer I suppose, no queueing in A&E with drunk people or people who have paper cuts.
After booking in, I was led to another area of A&E. Why you might be asking? Well my friend, when you are having chemotherapy you are prone to catch and develop infections due to your white blood cells dropping in count at a certain point in the cycle, its normal to fall but dangerous if it gets to low. This time is called the Nadir.... and you are deemed Nuetropenic if it gets too low. Damn I sound like an expert!
Once I got to this little area, I could sense people looking at me and I suppose it was the 'look of cancer' that did it.
Bald neck, no sideburns, hardly any eyebrows, pale skin, a scarf on my head and crazy deep black bags under my eyes, yeah I would have stared too if I had just seen a real life Uncle Fester walk into A&E. I should have shouted 'Debbieeee' as a joke. But I didn't, and I didn't care much either, I just wanted to be seen so I can get the hell outta there. I felt rough as f@£%!
My name was called and the nurse checked me over. No temperature but 'hmm a quick heart rate'. He took some blood to test then rang the oncologist to explain the situation as he wanted to make sure EVERYTHING was checked out.
I was asked to be seated again in the little waiting area. This time one seat was free which naturally as a privileged card holder I took, and a boy with a bloody nose offered his seat to Matt. Bless him.
I was then led to a little cubicle area with North Mids finest curtains that we drew, and they had me wait for another nurse to come and see me. An immediate course of antibiotics and fluids were administered and I lay there waiting for the doctor.
Finally the Doc arrived, gave me the once over and stated I needed a chest Xray 'so we can rule out an infection'.
So, I got into my 'designer gown' and made my way to X-ray. At this point my scarf was off due to some serious menopausal type sweats, and I began walking past the row of cubicles toward the yellow signed doors. One by one, I kid you not, people began to look up, some even gave me a weird little smile as if I was walking hand in hand with death himself, and that this was my moment of being led to the pearly gates. Err.... no love, I'm on my way to XRAY...
Anyway, images taken, back through the row of cubicles and back onto the bed.
More quick glances from people, looking up then staring at the floor again.
Oncologist swung by once more and gave me an update.
'So it looks like your chest is clear, there is no sign of infection. What we need to do now is check you don't have a blood clot in your lungs'.
Hold on a what!
A blud chart blood clot! What does this mean?
Time for another scan...however it wasn't as easy as that. ANOTHER cannula had to replace the one that was already in my arm. It needed to be BIGGER because the ink needed to travel much quicker into my blood stream, that way the chest, lungs and heart could be seen once the picture was taken.
Great, More flipping holes in my skin, I have literally never felt more like a junky.
'Ok, here we go sharp scratch' I friggin hate that phrase.
'Ah there is no blood...looks like the canular is too big for your veins'.
Great! what now! After prodding my arms and hands, they finally managed to get it into my arm.
Again, I was led down the path, passing the row of cubicles. More looks, more smiles, more seat offerings ...dam I felt like a God! No pictures please, this gown drowns me.
Images taken and back to my little cubby I go.
'So we are going have to keep you in I'm afraid, until we review the images and blood work we need to take precautions and keep you here, give you some blood thinners to dissolve any clots if you have any and give you some boosters'.
Great that's my Friday night ruined! All I wanted was to a Netflix and Chill. Damn you evil Edna.
I wasn't too harsh on the guy, he was really nice to me and his name was Arya like in Game of Thrones, but spelt differently, come to think of it he had a needle, just like she did! Did I just meet No One!
Anything GOT or Harry Potter related humour or coincidence and I get over excited...sorry back to the story.
So it was time for me to be wheeled up to 'the podium'. Yep wheeled up. Just when I thought the strange looks was bad enough, how much worse do you think it got when they saw me in a bloody wheelchair...yea...Uncle Fester in a wheelchair....pretty bad...wheres Gomez!
I reckon if I walked into A&E main waiting area at that precise moment, I would have easily cured Edmonton just by the sheer amount of eye contact going on. Guy with the paper cut, see ya...your cured... lady with the mosquito bite, on yer bike love....my tears are your ointment.
Yes, Friday night was interesting to say the least, and it got me thinking about how people still associate bald chemo patients with death. 'Aww poor thing your losing the battle'. It does not mean that. I mean, I don't go around thinking...awww poor thing look at her big nose, she's hopeless, never gonna find love...or awww man...look at his receding hair line...he should never have kids..bad genes right there.
No, I don't think that so why assume the worst when you see a bald cancer patient?
I truly felt for a split second, that that was me, the face of death, these people know something that I don't.....But then I thought snap out of it, it means your chemo is working, and that's exactly what it is, a sign that the chemo is in my system doing SOMETHING.
I am not the face of death...I am the face of someone at war.There is not much difference between me and a soldier with a buzz cut fighting for his county...is there.
We both want to win the war but I'm fortunate that the only casualties are my hair follicles.
I was discharged on Sunday with a semi clean bill of health. Was so happy to be home.
Over and out