Patch Testing

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Oh my, this week has been a long time coming.  Surgical Spice referred me back in March but some how the referral got lost.  It took much investigation to rediscover it and this was the third attempt at appointments.  But at long last the process has begun.

Now that it has, I am not sure why I was so keen.  This morning I spent three hours in a different part of the hospital at a different clinic waiting in yet another waiting room.  I am beginning to think I should start playing Hospital Department Bingo – I must be in with a chance of Full House.  Today, I had an extensive history taken.  The Vicks story was recounted but not so many laughs this time.  Allergies are serious business here.  Following this, vast quantities of little squares with suspected allergens in were stuck to my back.  With tape.  Adhesive tape.  Which looked suspiciously like the sort of tape that I have been reacting too.  To give the staff their due, they were concerned.  But had no option.

‘If you feel your skin beginning to blister, do take it off, won’t you?’

they said.  Given that these patches are plastered all over my back I am not entirely sure how I do this.  I cannot see them, I cannot reach them, and some are on numbed areas of skin.  I think I just endure and hope for the best.

I was sent away with instructions not to bathe or shower for the rest of the week (argh!!) and to return on Wednesday and Friday for progress assessments and results.  Currently my back feels horribly itchy and on fire.  So I guess something is happening.  This had better come up with some answers.  What I need is to discover what it is that makes my skin go bonkers with adhesive dressings and to find an alternative prior to my next bout of surgery.

It has to be said that that I am more than a little concerned that I have made the whole thing up and that my Mother was right and we do not have allergies in our family.  Time will tell.

In other news, I heard from the Genetics Unit and based on the information provided I am unlikely to be at risk from one of the known cancer predisposition genes so no further screening will be required.  This is seriously excellent and another one to put to bed.

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Once More Unto The Doc, Dear Friends

Doctor visit

Today I went without the slap, without a head covering and without much care.  It was Just Too Hot.  My appointment was for 9 o’clock so I had rush hour traffic to contend with.  Rush hour traffic, 26 degree heat and a car with quirky air conditioning – it does not work in stationary traffic.  This is where always being early stands me in good stead.  Under normal conditions I would have been early.  In these circumstances I was on time.  You cannot know how much this pleases me.

That I am rapidly learning the clinic never runs on time is something I am untroubled by.  The Doc is a man of grace and sensitivity.  He gives time to his patients.  I have been, and will no doubt be so again, the recipient of this kindness.  Once aware of this, it is easy to plan for.  I went armed with a large book.  Last visit my book ran out.  This was a crisis of epic proportions as I was forced to watch the video.  Played on a loop is a compilation DVD of 1980s Top of the Pops.  Initially this is quite entertaining.  After a short while it is excruciating.

Today’s visit involved more blood letting.  No compliments were forthcoming but this was fair enough.  I had not made the effort.  However, my veins played ball.  Which was a huge relief.  This cycle they have been getting more and more sore.  This is not unexpected.  Chemo burns veins.  Nice.  I have been doing all I can to keep them working.  I have been rubbing them several times a day with a potion concocted for me by the aromatherapists of Complementary Therapy.  I am using a stress ball to exercise with hand squeezes.  I say stress ball, I actually mean a ball of socks.  It seems to work.  I continue to drink the equivalent of a small lake each day and increase this to a medium sized lake the day before chemo.  And I am wrapping a hot water bottle and damp tea towels around my forearm each day which in this heat is, indeed, dedication to the cause.  The Doc is prescribing me some stuff to rub on too.  I am pretty sure Stuff was its actual name.

Seeing him was, as always, a joy.  Not the reason for being there, I just always feel better having seen him.  He was very pleased with the effect from my new drugs.  Possibly not nearly as pleased as I was.  We spent most of my appointment discussing my family history as some new information has come to light.  As a result, I am being referred to the Genetic Screening Department to see whether this would be a good plan for me.  This could take some time.  But that is not a problem.  There is no rush.