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  • Writer's pictureA. Murphy

Puzzling

After my first treatment I was allowed home for a grand total of three days. Then it was back up for the next round. I didn't even bother unpacking most of my things.


Nothing changed, there was no new chemo, but I was in a new room. Shame, I missed the cats. By that time a majority of the nurses knew who I was and I knew them. I definitely had favourites, and it seemed that they really liked coming to see me in my room. This was partly due to the fact that I now had a puzzle on the desk in my room. My mum had brought it up, she has many, many, puzzles. We always did it together. She came up everyday and we sat doing the puzzle, well mostly her with me watching. I wasn't very good, but I was very proud when I managed to find a piece. The nurses and doctors were very interested to watch the progress we'd made, always looking over to see how far we'd gotten whenever they came in. Once, a nurse (my favourite nurse) came in to give me my evening pills, and do my obs, I was sat at the desk attempting to do the puzzle on my own. She joined me and we ended up doing it for almost an hour. Of course then she remembered she actually had to work I also realised that I should probably go to bed.


Though I spent many afternoons working at puzzles with my mum, when my dad came to visit it was a different story. He brought up tv shows that we both enjoyed and we would sit together and watch them on my little television. We worked our way through Black Books, Father Ted, and Detectorists. Of course when I was on my own and I wanted to watch something (I couldn't watch the tv shows without dad because that was something we did together) I turned to Starkid.


Starkid are a theatre group that produce comedy musicals. All their productions can be found on YouTube and they are most famous for A Very Potter Musical (AVPS). A parody of the Harry Potter series; it pokes fun at all the little details you thought about when reading/watching Harry Potter. AVPS had a budget of only $150, a third of which was spent on a giant Hershey bar that Ron is eating in a single scene. But I digress, I just really love Starkid (seriously go look them up their great). I even told my nurses about them, but they were probably just nodding along to whatever I said.


However, it was not all watching tv and doing puzzles. A little more than a week into my second treatment I started to develop ulcers. On my tongue, the inside of my lip, my cheek. It was horrible. My doctor informed me that this was mucositis caused by the chemo. As I have said chemo attacks the fast growing cells in your body. This included the inside of the mouth, the cells of which are replaced very quickly. Mucositis happened because the mouth has lost some of its ability to combat the wide variety of things that can cause mouth ulcers, it is a common side effect of chemo. It was incredibly painful and I had to stop eating solid food because I couldn't swallow it. I lived off yoghurt, soup, and high-calorie milkshakes provided by the nurses. I received morphine and such to inject into my mouth before I ate. Sadly it didn't work. I tried to tough it out but after a couple of days my doctor saw how much I was suffering and insisted I was given the next step in pain relief. A syringe driver. It appeared to be a large syringe filled with morphine within a contraption that would slowly press down the plunger, injecting me with morphine, throughout the day. It was yet another tube, this time hooked into the top of my arm. The contraption was kept in a little bag that I could carry around so that my mobility wasn't affected (Although it meant I couldn't shower) . Though I expected to feel like I was high with all this morphine, I didn't it and it helped with my pain so much that only twenty-four hours after it was inserted I felt like I could try solid food again.


My ulcers faded and I almost cheered when I was able to eat chocolate again. It's the little victories that keep you going. I managed to get back to my regular hospital routine, exercise bike, ham sandwiches, scrolling through Tumblr. I was looking forward to going home again, even if it was only for three days. I was preparing as best I could for Christmas was looming.

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