The blinds were still closed in my hospital room and it was after midday. I just didn’t feel like having any light in there that morning. The nurse asked me if she’d open them and I said, “No thanks!” Sometimes you just have to give in to your body and be miserable.

I was on Day Four, Cycle Three of chemotherapy and I felt like I’d had twenty pints of stout the evening before - I was so full of drugs. Having never drunk a pint, that statement seems bizarre. Nevertheless, it tells the story. Nurse Soren came in with the weighing scales. It’s all about fluid balance. He held my arm while I got up on the little step. I felt old and my weight was, of course, up. He gave me my tablets. I threw them back; glad of any reprieve they might bring.

Then the breakfast tray came. I looked at it for a long time before managing a bit of toast and a cup of tea. It tasted metallic. Food can taste horrible after chemotherapy. Whatever cocktail I’m on makes sure of that. I’m a chocoholic, but now chocolate tastes like mud in my mouth. In fact, all cakes and nice things are pretty much off the menu. I’m sure that will change as soon as my treatment finishes. And, no, I’m not even going to try to stay off them!

TB test passed

I curled up in bed again and easily went back to sleep. It’s so easy to give in to the exhaustion. Then, the alarm went on the drip apparatus, heralding the end of yet another bag of medication. It was driving me insane. I pressed the bell to call the nurse. I immediately felt mean and impatient. As always, a care assistant came quickly. He killed the alarm and I was so grateful. I could feel myself being tetchy and bad tempered. It is hard to keep the bright side out.

I told myself that I couldn’t go home in bad form. It’s hard enough on them without me being a cranky boots, as well. The job of going home was looming large ahead of me. Where would I get the energy to make the transition from the hospital room to the car?

I was on Day Four, Cycle Three of chemotherapy and I felt like I’d had twenty pints of stout the evening before - I was so full of drugs. Having never drunk a pint, that statement seems bizarre.

I got out of the bed and let some light in. My phone beeped - we had passed the TB test. Well, that was lovely news considering many farmers have gone down in our locality and beyond in recent times. It is a constant worry for livestock farmers. We are still in a four-month cycle of testing because of nearby outbreaks. To top off that good news, it was raining softly at home. Would it be enough to end the drought and drive on the grass seeds? Maybe, though it wouldn’t restore the grass growth to pre- drought figures.


Then my dinner came. I didn’t even feel like eating it. I lifted the lid to find a neat breast of chicken, a scoop of potato, carrot and peas and a little gravy on top. It was a small, nicely presented dinner. I was tempted to taste it. Before I knew it, I had finished it and felt much better. The kitchen team rarely get a mention, and yet they are such an integral part of managing patients’ nourishment. I was grateful to the chef or cook who had put that appetising dinner together and made sure it landed in front of me. Nurse Marguerite told me that the paperwork was in order for going home. It included a new prescription of tablets that would get me through this cycle. Tim would fill that and carefully go through it all with Keith Hourihan or Paddy Lehane from Tower First Plus pharmacy. You forget how important people like the local pharmacists are in the lives of all patients. Then, Tim will come home and place all the tablets into the weekly tablet box. All I have to do is take them. This support is huge, because I’m not actually capable of doing it safely in those first few days, with the brain fog from a crippling chemotherapy cycle.

Tim arrived to collect me. He put the last few things in the bag and checked the room and bathroom to make sure I had everything. We walked out. The whole experience was surreal, and I dreaded the next few days.

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