Day 5: Wednesday 2 November

I woke up to a few emails that came through on my Blackberry this morning with more messages of good fortune from family and friends (I have to get off global roaming asap!!!). An article came through that was printed in The West yesterday about cyber malice with references to comments made by nameless, faceless people last year when I joined the campaign for Opt-Out organ donor legislation in WA. (I have long been an advocate for organ donation, certainly well before I ever thought I would need a donor). I have no time or energy to dwell on such things, but suffice to say that kicking a really ill or dying person on the way down is a pretty low act. I hope the WA Parliament gets its act together soon insofar as the Opt-Out legislation is concerned. It will make WA a leader in the nation on this front and of course individuals will retain the right not to participate in the system. Last year there were fewer than 800 organ donors nationally and it is just not enough for the wide variety of people who could really use a spare organ here and there.

Not all dim sum and roses

Today was bloody tough. I cried a lot. First, it took two hours and five medicos to extract 50ml of blood from me. They actually needed 100ml so that it could be infused with ozone (O3) and put back in my body. They looked at my arms, hands and feet and there were no viable veins to harvest. I have a power picc line in my arm especially for extracting blood and inserting fluids but it seems that we don’t have the right plastic connection to stick on the end of the line in order to syringe the blood out fast enough. I think that was the problem; either that or the fact my blood just wants to stay put. My Mandarin isn’t coming along too well so I can’t really say for sure. Eventually they got some blood out and put it back in again then it was off to start SPDT for real.

The medicos had some very stern advice for me today: have faith (in them (at first I thought they were talking about God, but apparently not)), don’t worry, don’t be nervous, stay happy and positive. Righty oh then. Will do! Well, at least I will try my best.

First SPDT session

Joined by my interpreter and SPDT nurse we ventured to the basement of the hospital (located just around the corner from the café and the international cancer centre)! There I stripped down and laid on what could have passed as a tanning bed (not that I’ve ever been on one with my pale skin), but for the fact that the lid sort of closes down on you like a slab. Fortunately, I wasn’t aware of this until the treatment had started or I may well have bolted. I put on the thick eye mask and was oblivious to the fact that I was sandwiched into that machine with no ability to escape until I moved a little then found that the top layer of the machine was millimetres away from my nose. On the upside, it was fairly warm and cosy in there so I managed to focus on other things and take the light treatment quite easily.

The sono-dynamic treatment (sound therapy) wasn’t quite such a happy walk in the park.

I stepped into a large bath of water that was set at about 37-38 degrees. I would’ve liked it a little warmer but that would have affected my oxygen levels and so it had to stay at that heat. Things started off pretty well. I laid on my back in the bath and a cover of sorts lowered over the bath to skim the surface of the water just above where I was laying. I presume is a feature of the machine that allows the sound therapy to penetrate from both above and beneath the body. The metal plate was quite large and covered around a third of the bath. It started down at my feet and slowly moved its way up to my shoulders. There was a very slight stinging/ pinging sensation which I didn’t mind at all; it certainly didn’t hurt. At least, not at the beginning.

I am convinced that the inventor of this SDT device was a man who only intended to treat men. You see, there is a grand flaw in its design. Most women will be more naturally buoyant around their chest area than in other places. This buoyancy did not serve me at all well by the time the metal place made its way over my abdomen and then towards my chest. You see, the treatment works when the patient is submerged in the water so that the plate can easily skim over the surface and deliver its sono-goodness. What can I say? My chest would not submerge. This had a very unpleasant and undesirable effect which caused the nurse to have to turn off the machine and rethink the strategy. By this stage I was feeling hot and sore in places, chlaustrophobic and scared. I couldn’t help but wonder if Brad was right in his extreme-cynicism about most things and that maybe this was just a giant scam designed to squeeze money out of desperate, dying cancer patients. I had to use all my might to put those thoughts out of my mind.

A daily cycle of the SDT involves the metal plate moving up and down the bath twice. Oh goody, once more to go. This time the nurse and the interpreter literally held down my chest and shoulders under the water so that my skin wasn’t touching the hot sonic plates. It meant that while my chest was mostly protected that my back actually got a little red and hot from the process. I was freaking out and crying again during this ordeal but in reality it was only a few minutes of pain to endure. I got a few weird pains in my shoulders during this time but they quickly went away and haven’t come back. Finally, it was over. For today at least.

After dressing and drying off it was back to my room on the ward to take my daily infusion of KLT. That takes about three hours so I used the time to catch up on a bit of Eckhart Tolle and a nap.

I am rarely left alone and the team is always checking to see if I need anything and whether I am feeling OK. No complaints there.

After our eventual release from hospital today we stopped in at the restaurant near the hotel for a quick bite. We managed to order our food by pointing at the pretty pictures in the menu (thank goodness for illustrated menus) but unfortunately there were no illustrations in the drinks section. There was a page for juice so I thought I’d just point at the watermelon and that watermelon juice would show up in a glass. Wrong. Instead, we were served a piping hot jug of thick, brown juice with a very unpleasant aroma. Quickly, we assigned the jug to the recesses of the table and I went off to point at a bottle of beer and a lemonade so that we could make shandies. Not anti-cancer drinks I know, but organic juice bars are not so easy to come by in these parts.

Another day, tick. We are both buggered. Getting used to the rock hard mattress. We might just have enough energy left to watch one episode of “At home with Julia,” then we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

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