I don’t normally go in for an infusion with a problem (at least, not with a medical problem). So today was the exception to the rule. I needed everything I could bring to the fight even to go in. Helmet on, shield up, sword out…!

So what happened?

Well, I’ve been keeping a ‘Folfox diary’ – trying to record my physical reactions to my treatment day by day. And I’ve noticed that the usual digestive explosion I get a day or two after treatment has been returning, in a milder form, just before I’m due for my next.

Except, this week, ‘milder’ was not an appropriate description: my gut opted for a full-scale poonami. Which was equally horrendous on the morning of my treatment. So I called the team. By then – after taking medication – my output looked less disgusting. But they left it up to me whether or not I came in.

That said, they know me and they know I’m a fighter. I wasn’t going to let a temporary setback stop me. And I knew, after my last appointment with my oncologist, that the next dose would be less severe. Mind you, I’d also started getting sudden quite unpleasant twinges on my right side – not a million miles from the entry point for my PICC line. And I couldn’t help wondering if something worse was brewing.

So I came to the Day Unit with some concerns and some questions; although I could see they were rushed off their feet and struggling man- and woman-fully to cope. So I didn’t even start my infusion until an hour and a half after I arrived. (And – please note – I blame no one for that other than a government that’s consistently underfunded and under-resourced them for the last 13 years…)

I raised my (mild) concerns about the pain with my nurse, and it wasn’t long before I was introduced to Colin, who agreed it was probably nothing but worth a careful check. Which he duly gave me, and was able to confirm his initial thoughts – nothing to worry about. However, as this involved removing my t-shirt he got a good look at my keloid scar collection, and was obviously fascinated.

We had a chat about them – where and how I got my first one, what happened later, and my experimental (and largely successful) treatment at Northwood. I also told him my Fluorouracil infusion had caused substantial shrinkage on most of them – but there was one I was now a little concerned about, as it hadn’t responded in the same way as the others. He took a look and assured me it was, in fact, a normal reaction and nothing to worry about.

But he hadn’t realised that Fluorouracil was in fact a recognised treatment for keloids, and was happy to add that to his knowledge (though we both agreed it was a tad extreme!) And he politely thanked me for ‘the most interesting five minutes of my day’!

Once I’d had my infusion and was on my second line flush, I began to feel nauseous and asked my nurse for an anti-emetic, which was quickly provided – just in time to stop me throwing up. But by the time we got home I had a double problem. My stoma was in poonami mode again – and I felt nauseous, again. I dealt with the poonami problem, and grabbed a quick bite to eat – which instantly made me throw up. So another anti-emetic before I managed a small portion of sushi (something I’d asked for) and then pretty much passed out for most of the evening. To the extent that I found it difficult to wake up long enough to get to bed, where I slept through the night.

And, of course, missed a scheduled Zoom session with my Neighbourhood Plan team, which I had promised to attend…

Verdict? A bloody awful day, ameliorated by the wonderful care I received from a team that was clearly harassed and overstretched. (Thank you, guys, you are brilliant.) But I’m running a timetable here to get to Denmark, and pay what could be a final visit to my family, while I’m still (just) healthy to make the trip. And by taking a tough decision I’ve kept that timetable in place.

So? Worth it. On to the next battle – because my friend Colin left me with a parting gift. He reminded me that their job, as oncologists, is to keep giving me ever more powerful treatments until we hit the limit of what I can physically tolerate. We’ve found where that limit is – and now we carry on with treatment at that level to get the best possible results, with the lowest possible impact on my overall health. And you can’t say fairer than that.

So ‘Victory – or Valhall! šŸ˜‰’