More Side Effects

On the plus side having the Picc line fitted wasn't too bad at all. As with most things the thought of it was actually far worse than the procedure. It really should hurt having a thin tube pushed through a vein shouldn't it? But, actually, it didn't. Or maybe I was getting used to pain wth all that I'd been through.

Either way the Picc line proved to be both a blessing and a curse. In terms of administering the chemo drugs it was fabulous and so much easier than having to endure the will they/won't they find a workable vein shenanigans.

It was, however, a complete pain in the backside when it came to cleanliness of both me and the PICC line. I had to have a bath with my right arm constantly out of the water so as not to get it wet and I couldn't sleep on my right side as if the Picc line got pulled or nudged it made me feel queasy.

The Picc line had to be cleaned every week and, rather than trek to the hospital every week to have it done, David stepped up to the plate and offered to do it at home for me. I don't know who was more nervous the first time he cleaned it but he did a brilliant job and I know I was the worst patient ever. When the nurses at the hospital did it the first couple of times I remained calm and quiet throughout. But, when David did it at home, I turned into the patient from hell and whinged and cried at every dab of the sterile wipe, at every slight pull on the Picc. To be fair, though, David is an ex-policeman with large hands and lacked the delicate touch of the Linda McCartney nurses. Still, he did great and i was immensely grateful not to have to attend the hospital any more than was strictly necessary. Cancer is a massive test of a relationship in so many ways and i'm sure some couples don't make it through but, for us, we grew closer so cheers for that cancer. I guess you didn't take everything from me after all.

Now I know this part is titled "Side Effects" but, if i'm honest, i'm rather delaying laying bare me at my absolute worst but, if this is to be an accurate account of my journey, the following must be said. So i'll just say it. Quickly. Like pulling off a plaster. The faster the better. Constipation.

Aaaaagh there it is i've said it. It's out there (oh I wish it had been out there. Too much?). Constipation was in my top two symptoms. It was horrendous. Toe curlingly, gut wrenchingly, bang your head off the sink kind of awful. I'd never known anything like it. I couldn't go for several days on end and it would haunt my every waking hour. I was bloated and sluggish and desperate to find a release (really?). I tried everything. Fig juice, prune juice, Senokot, Laxido. I scoured the internet for advice, for that one miracle remedy that would end the madness. And then I found something that worked for me. It wasn't pretty but it was effective. Supposotories ( Insert one of those weapons of ass destruction (oh that's very good isn't it. I like that!), wait for ten minutes, then assume the position and, in the words of Frozen, "Let it go,Let it go..."!

It was so effective that my poor backside was left reeling but give me an hour of bum discomfort over days of constipation any time.

I mentioned that constipation was one of my top two symptoms. The other contender for the title of most horrific side effect were....drum roll...mouth ulcers.

Oh yes, those evil little bastards that cropped up like clockwork after the CMF part of my treatment. Oh God they were painful. People think I'm deranged when I say that ulcers were my worst symptom but they were horrendous. At least I could sleep with constipation but with these bad boys throbbing constantly sleep just wasn't possible. And I suffered. I really suffered. Eating was out of the question, hot drinks and cold drinks were agony,and talking was only done if absolutely necessary. If I ever had to repeat something to anybody as they hadn't heard me I wanted to punch them in the face for making me endure the pain twice. Seriously it was that bad. These lumps of fun had me in tears. I even took a picture of my worst one as I couldn't believe how bad they were (will post if it's not likely to offend!)

The only thing that reduced their lifespan was Difflam mouthwash which  I kept stocked up on like an alcoholic stores whisky. I needed that stuff. I also used Orabase gel ( which gave some short-lived relief.

The CMF effectively removed a whole layer of my tongue's lining as I found out when I thought I was up to eating my favourite dish from my favourite Thai restaurant. Holy Basil and Chilli stir fry. In fact, no, I can't even write about how exquisitely painful that was. Safe to say the restaurant started spinning, I was sweating profusely and if I could have dunked my head in the restaurants' fish tank I would have done. Horrendous. To this day I have had to spice down on the dishes I used to love.

Damn you cancer....

Latest comments

20.12 | 20:45

Hi Dave,
Thanks for the kind words.
I did indeed work in North Cyprus back in the day - Turkbet?

18.12 | 11:06

Hi Donna, remarkable, uplifting and inspiring read.
Did you ever work in North Cyprus around 10 years ago?

15.10 | 17:15

Hi Donna, you are so inspiring. I have just had my 2nd mastectomy 8 days ago out of choice, first one was 5 months earlier as small cancer found.well done you

30.09 | 15:12

well done for finishing EPI!

I can't send a longer response on here but would like to share my experience of CMF at or the forum on macmillan.