On Monday afternoon I should have been giving a talk to Abingdon U3A. I had revised my Furthest South talk to cover not only the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration but also more recent expeditions and tourism using images from our 2006 trip. I was ready to go but hadn’t run through this latest version to ensure that it didn’t go on too long. So a little more preparation and refinement was needed, but nothing too serious. However I had contacted them as soon as I knew I was going in for chemo to postpone the talk.
I have heard of people who have continued with their jobs while undergoing chemo (or at least in the early stages) so could I have carried on with no changes – and have given the talk? As I see it there are three strands I needed to take account of:
- Any adverse reaction – might I be allergic to docetaxel or suffer from any of the side effects over the days immediately following chemotherapy?
- My white blood cell count – will I become increasingly vulnerable to infection and so should stay away from areas where there were lots of people especially unhealthy ones?
- Lethargy – will I become increasingly tired over the course of the treatment?
I now know that the answer to the first question was ‘no’ but only time will tell to what extent the second two apply. I had already started mentally constructing graphs showing how my infection risk would bottom out at 7 to 10 days and then recover to a greater or lesser extent, and how my lethargy levels would presumably follow a similar pattern but building up over the next few months until I was completely zonked out. If in a future post you see that it is becoming incoherent and drifting off the bottum of the paige you will knwo lethargu has sett inn!
Oops, must have dozed off.
However it was the first two of these that influenced my decision on the talk. Why take an unnecessary risk and potentially drop others in it by crying off at the last minute? Longer term it will be the second two that will be the key factors. It’s all in the blood (or lack of it). I will now share two new (to me) words with you – erythrocytes and leucocytes. I used to know them as red and white blood cells but now I can give them posh names.
While I know how fit I feel I have no idea how knackered my immune system might be. There are two ways of finding out – a blood test and being exposed to a bug and seeing how ill I become – possibly even using that fast pass in A&E. I think I would prefer to avoid exposure and to rely on the blood test!
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