Friday, January 18, 2008

What's needling me?


In the last year I have had lots of needles.

Needle 1 was a slim hypodermic used to give me a quick shot of local anasthetic before needles 2, 3 and 4 came on the scene, all of a larger guage and terrifyingly long, used for the biopsies on my right and left breasts, back on the 29th March 2007.

Needle 4 was a fine needle inserted into a vein in my left arm to draw various blood samples for markers on the 30th March.

Needle 5 was a catheter in my hand to administer anaesthetic for the lumpectomy, the following morning.

Needles 6 and 7 were long thin needles with a large syringe attached. Inserted into my armpit, they drew out the fluid that collected there after the operation when my decimated lymph nodes couldn't carry it away.

Needle 8 was another catheter, for more anasthetic, for when they inserted the portacath on the 1st May.

Needle 9 was the thick stubby Huber needle they plunged into the port whilst I was still under, and through which they administered the first chemo.

Needle 10 was the first of the many painful doses of Neulasta, to help my bone marrow grow and generate more immunity boosting white blood cells.

Needle 11 was the blood test I had a week later to try and diagnose what the pain in my chest was. I pointed out to the doctor that I had a port and he could draw blood through that. Unfortunately, only the nurses had been trained in using ports so he had to do it the old-fashioned way - by jabbing around in my elbow trying to find a vein.

Needle 12 was Chemo 2, my last chemo with hair. Needle 13 followed suit, another Neulasta shot, this time administered gently by Rita, my local practice nurse.

Needle 14 and 15 were Chemo 3 and the subsequent Neulasta. Needle 16 was more blood tests (from the port this time - so still a needle but easier to bear) to diagnose the fact I had a raging throat infection and a fever.

Needle 17 and 18 were Chemo 4 and more Neulasta. They never got any easier to bear and at this point got a lot, lot harder.

Needle 19 and 20 paired up for Chemo and Neulasta no 5. Then 21 and 22 for Chemo no 6. Followed a few weeks later by needles 23 and 24 for a series of blood tests when I had a chest infection and urine infection.

Needles 25 and 26 were mere quickies by comparison. Quick visits to the day care centre to flush the port. Then no 27 was the first catheter in my left hand for a while - I was going in to have the port taken out. So they couldn't administer anasthetic through something they were about to remove, could they?

And needle 28 was today. I went to have my suspected basal cell carcinoma whipped off (in layman's terms, a dodgy but not life-threatening mole). To be precise, a scoop excision. The dermatologist distracted me very professionally as she stuck me with some local anasthetic and then we waited an age for it to take effect. For some reason, I always need elephant sized doses to take me down. I remember coming too after the port removal to hear the anasthetist saying 'I had to give you loads - you would not stay under'. Glad that's the first I was aware of that.

She then took a small device that looked like a lemon rind paring tool and whipped off the offending item and stuck it in a pot to go to the lab.

So that's that for needles, for now. I think. Unless we discover there is more of the basal cell thingummy to scrape off. But I actually winced when I saw the needle today and my legs started to shake so I suspect I've had my fill of the damn things.

I never used to like them. But having 28 of the buggers in quick succession does put you off. I could never be a junkie...

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