I’m glad I wrote about how I felt 3 months ago when I went for my 2nd quarterly blood test post cancer treatment. Because I feel very different this time round.
I was excited to be back in the hospital for the check up. So excited that when an apologetic colleague called me when I was at the hospital, she commented that I sounded too upbeat for a person visiting a hospital.
It’s interesting how just 8 months after completing my treatment (that was also 8 months long), the hospital has become a place with people I look forward to meeting. It felt like I was going back to my school or something.
So much ease that I decided to do Instagram Stories to give a glimpse of my day at the hospital. It’s pretty much like this every quarter when I meet my oncologist at Pusat Perubatan University Malaya (PPUM).
The wait for registration doesn’t usually take very long but I can be sure most of the seats at the waiting area are taken every time I visit. It’s not an encouraging sign to see a packed hospital, is it?
As far as I remember, the nurses I met here have been very skillful. I barely felt any pain when she drew my blood. It felt less painful than being pricked by a safety pin when the needle was inserted. And I didn’t feel anything at all when the needle was removed. 👍
I am usually weighed by the doctor’s assistant but this round someone else called for my name. Nevertheless, doctor’s assistant later reviewed my weight as usual and she was delighted to see 40kg because 3 months ago, I weighed 39kg. I believe it’s just weight fluctuation so I haven’t really gained weight. Boo.
Submission of Research Log
My duty as a research patient is to take 200mg of aspirin/placebo every day after meal and to update my daily log accordingly. I record my log on another sheet so I only update this sheet right before I submit. I cross check my record with the remaining pill count also because the leftover pills need to be returned with my log.
Record Blood Pressure
The doctor’s assistant would usually check my blood pressure when I walk in to her office to submit my log and return the leftover pills. I always have low blood pressure but this time she said it’s too low I had to retake after resting.
She asked me to grab things to eat more and don’t move about too much so I bought hot chocolate from Gloria Jean’s at a neighboring building. Blood pressure was acceptable when I retook 30 minutes after.
Flush Chemo Port
I am still keeping my chemo port and it has to be flushed every 3 months. Used to come separately for this but figured I could use the long wait for my blood test result and oncologist consultation to flush my chemo port. This saves me one trip to the hospital too.
This is easily the most dreaded part of my visit because it’s painful. The needle is huge. And even though I’m only flushing the chemo port and not doing a chemotherapy, I still get pricked by the same huge needle.
Not sure if my nurse knew I tend to keep my plaster on as long as I can until someone peels it off for me; usually RK or my sister. She warned me to only keep it for 24 hours and not longer. So for the first time, I removed my chemo port plaster myself. #achievementunlocked
Blood test takes 2 hours to process so by the time the result is out, it’s usually lunch hour. I’d always be torn between going for lunch or starving to wait for my oncologist. I dropped by doctor’s assistant’s office after flushing my chemo port and she told me to come back in another hour so I tapao-ed lunch before continuing my wait.
As usual, my number would be called the moment I feel like my eyelids are going to close. Good that I have prepared notes on things I needed to tell him or I’d just walk into his clinic with my sleepy head and stare blankly at him.
Highlights of the consultation this round:
- My oncologist rolled his eyes long time when he found out I rescheduled my appointment last minute because he’s extra busy when I went. Good to know he’s comfortable enough with me to roll his eyes at me…again xD
- I showed him a photo of my bruise from dropping my knees on the ground during my holiday at Club Med Cherating. He proceeded to ask me to list all my travel plan for record sake and didn’t expect me to travel every month; I have no issue with low energy he said. I hope he’s glad.
- He asked me about my neuropathy and I realized I have gotten so used to the numbness that I couldn’t tell him where’s numb and where’s not anymore. And I told him about my discovery that I have trouble opening bottle caps after chemotherapy.
- I also told him I noticed my immune system seems to be better than normal people. I slept beside my sick sister and didn’t get infected. All my neighboring colleagues at work were sick but I escaped again. Wondering if it’s because of the prescription.
- He mentioned doing CT scan or MRI again and noted to schedule for one at the end of the year when I go back to him in 3 months.
- He didn’t go through my blood test result with me but I assumed everything’s good when I scanned through the result myself. CEA was 1.4 (normal is <2.5 and I was at 6.0 pre-surgery).
Collection of Prescription
This round, I only received my pills for the research. In my past visits, I got the prescription for neuropathy supplement (which I still have plenty at home). I don’t quite like going to the pharmacy because it’s quite a distance away and sometimes I need to wait quite a while. I’m happy that I skipped the pharmacy this time!
It’s usually about 3pm when I’m done at the hospital. *yawn* So yeah. Every 3 months when I see my oncologist, I have to spend almost a full day in the hospital. I think it’d be faster if I were to follow up at UMSC but because of the research that I signed up for, I have to be attended to at PPUM.
Next up: I have to schedule for my half yearly colonoscopy with my gastroenterologist…which I also have to spend a full day at the hospital. I’d probably do it in early June only even though I’m scheduled for May because it’s not convenient this month.