Chemo brain

The recipe said ‘4 Rice Duo 10 cups water’, and I read 10 cups, which I put in. The meal survived because I scooped out the water as it was bubbling through onto my supposed to be steaming not blanching vegetables. I cursed the silly cooking instructions on our new Breville rice cooker. It took me until the following day when my washed out fish brain revisited the frontal part where thoughts occur and – ping – Duo 10 is the cup name, oh, I see now – 4 cups not 10. Gotcha.

Back online

It’s been one week since my last (conf…) session of chemo. I didn’t take the Lord’s name in vain, but I likely said something to a God. We’re all united now (Brett, his mother Phillipa, and Felix) under the one roof. Phillipa goes back to Maryanne’s (Auntie) on the weekends for a much needed break.

We swapped Felix’s nursery with our study room, so Brett and Phillipa could take turns doing night shift during the first week out of chemo. It’s also a better nursery. The reason I’ve been offline is the study’s cable internet/phone inlet needed changing over. Back on and blogging again …

My hair’s almost gone completely on my head. Regarding the rest of my body, hair appears to be jumping out of my toxic skin. I won’t need to wax any part of my body for a few months – this I quite like! My eyebrows are getting thinner.

On a more personal note

It’s a dark place, chemotherapy. A death tendril touches you. I know I’m not dying of this disease right now, but the initial side effects or just drug effects in the first week let you know this breast cancer business is deadly serious.

Six hours in accident and emergency

Drama not over from yesterday. I woke up with an allergic reaction and mildly suppressed breathing again. So, Brett and I went to A & E and due to various tests and the oncology on call staff taking some time to be contacted or turn up we were there all day. Up shot is I didn’t need to be admitted and the allergic reaction is containable with antihistamines – under control again!

Not a great way for Brett to spend his mother’s birthday.

Second lot of chemotherapy

It started out normally, but just before the first lot of  chemo (Taxotere) my breathing felt suppressed. It wasn’t too bad, so I let it go. Then, chemo started and I developed what’s called a ‘septic shower’, meaning when the nurse accessed my portacath to check my bloods in the morning some of the residual bacterial infection might have got flushed back into my system – so I started shaking uncontrollably, developed a mild temperature, needed oxygen, drugs (antibiotics, valium type drug). Chemo stopped, then once the reaction was under control they finished off the chemo.

Chemotherapy appears to be rather grueling.

Humbling conversation overheard on the oncology ward between:

A. Educated woman in her 50s with carer.

B. Country woman in her 60s with an attentive son.

A: ‘I was supposed to go last November.’

B: ‘Yes … they told me this year.’

A: ‘It’s just statistics! Don’t believe the dates.’

B: ‘I don’t, I feel I’ll be here for some time longer.’

A: ‘Me too.’

It reminded me there’s always a tougher case than your own.

Wig shopping

Some of my Starkles wig options:

Sophie and I tried on the wigs for loan from the cancer council – I don’t think so. I either resembled an eighties failed rock star or a boofy Marge Simpson depending on the wig. However, the service is a good one. Then we went to Starkles, a wig shop, where I tried on all manner of dos. It felt like I had a synthetic animal on my head. We ended up picking one called ‘Tiana’  (the last two pictures). It’ll pass for real hair at a glance and when I don’t want to wear the beanie I can wear the wig (the cancer council does its rebate first, then I pay the difference).

I shaved my head


Yesterday my hair was noticably falling out. So, over sheets of newspaper in the bath I used Brett’s beard clippers and gave myself a number 3 haircut. I look like other chemo patients now. You can feel the cool air on your scalp, and the prickly hairdo is nice to rub. I just went for a walk to the local post office, which is nestled into the Royal Brisbane Hospital. I got the I’m looking at you, trying not to look at you stares. It’s humbling to be on the side of the ‘cancer patient’ with no hair look.

Return home

From the bussle of an oncology ward with its beeps, monitoring by nurses, scheduled meal times and doctor visits I’m home alone: in quarantine. In a bid to not repeat what just happened Brett (my partner), Phillipa (his Mum) and Felix (my son) have decamped to Brett’s Auntie’s house. I’m in our house and Roger (my father) is in the local hotel. The house has been licked clean, albeit with a disinfectant tongue.