During this entire journey for Ruby – approximately 9 months- I have been with her all the way. I have taken vitamins and fought away any coughs and cold with a flu shot. I have managed the onset of cold sores with those amazing tablets now available that stop the sores appearing if you act on first tingle. I have eaten as well as possible (thanks to my friends food deliveries and constant supply of dark chocolate). But this past weekend (5-6 November) that marked the end of Ruby’s intense treatment and should have seen me skulling (no lady like sips) French champagne, I am lying in a hospital bed.
Just the Friday before I was chatting with my two beautiful friends Mary and Anna. We had just finished Mary’s wonderful yoga class and I was crying tears of disbelief that Ruby had reached an end (well not ‘ the’end when we ring the bell end, but an end). I feel tired and over whelmed by all we have endured and achieved and can’t speak about without crying. Good for the soul to cry with your friends.
‘Have you got sick through all of this? ‘ (keeping in mind this treatment phase ran over winter and I spent countless nights in hospital).
My answer ‘NO I just could not allow myself to get sick so have just kept on going. Amazing right ? A real blessing. I made a promise to Ruby I would be there ever step Of the way’
I Jokingly said I probably will collapse now.
Anna said how people that work hard and then go on holiday often get sick day one of the holiday. Once their mind and body relaxes.
We all had a laugh ( not laughing now).
Then I woke up Saturday 5 November – last chemo injection for Ruby.
I had a pain in my stomach but thought not much of it other than ‘wind’. Ruby looked pale. She was nauseous and then her nose started to bleed. And would not stop. I noticed a rash on her chest that I now know means low platelets. I knew we would have to go to emergency.
Ed drove us there. Then got me a coffee and Vegemite toast and Ruby’s last day of treatment began.
My stomach kept feeling sore. Cramping pain. But my period was not due and I have never had such bad period pain. Was this menopause?
A few sips of coffee but not many ( not like a coffee addicted person like me). And eventually got to my toast I could barely eat. I started feeling nauseous too and eyeing off Ruby’s lemonade icy pole.
By afternoon we had our own room and I hopped into bed with Ruby. In pain and feeling sick and we both started eating icy poles and sipping water. I actually felt hot and then panicked I had a bug and so close to Ruby. I hopped out of bed and sat on chair to take my temp. It hit 38.1 but then went down to 36.7.
I called ed and said I wasn’t feeling well and I don’t think I should be near Ruby and could he come to join us. My mum came over to care for the boys and by 530pm ed was with us. My pain became more bearable. Ruby perked up – they gave her stronger nausea medicine (I wanted to ask for some) and we eventually got discharged and home by 930pm.
I sorted the remaining pills out for Ruby and hopped into bed in pain. The night was long I was bundled over just hoping to do a massive fart and all would be well (not very lady like but absolutely the truth).
Morning came and no fever for me or Ruby. Both of us tired we slept in bed. Ed took the boys out for breakfast and then to a movie.
Ruby and I still in pajamas headed downstairs for a late breakfast. I knew all I could eat was an icy pole. So we did. Encouraged Ruby to do her pills but by 11am the pain in my stomach tripled. Described as a 20/10. I had to call ed and ask him to leave the movie. He also called an ambulance.
I had these feelings of ‘I’m not allowed to be sick’ ‘ Ruby needs me ‘ ‘this is just a dream’ ‘must be wind and I just need to do a poo’ (but believe you me I had tried that and it did not work).
Eventually ed came home (in time to get me a vomit bag, I felt so sick) and the ambulance arrived. While all kids looked on I had my blood pressure taken (low – always is) and temp (37.4) a cannula put in and some pain medicines taken up my nose as I remembered last minute that morphine makes me itchy!
Honestly the whole time I kept thinking I was using up a much need ambulance service for my case of wind and should I send them away!? The pain kept me moving towards hopping into the ambulance.
I waved weakly goodbye to the kids and had my first hospital ambulance ride for me.
Arriving at Royal North Shore and I was seen by loads of people. All kind and helpful. A long wait for an emergency bed but got there eventually.
Surrounded by many elderly people who had had a fall and were being asked what year it is, a man who had mental problems and kept screaming, and several cardiac people struggling to breathe. Again I thought what if this is wind – how embarrassing.
My mum arrived which was so nice. We had good chats and she assured me that it was not wind or stress but more like appendix or gall bladder (she has had both out).
A doctor called Kyle visited me and asked about the weekend so far and what I had eaten. Toast and icy poles I told him. ‘How many icy poles have you eaten?’ I said about 4. He asked ‘ how many icy poles do you have to eat to realise you are unwell?’ Made me laugh.
I was admitted to the ward and had the longest and most painful sleep ever. Endone every time I was allowed it but it made me delirious but sure did lower the pain.
Next morning I saw the lovely doctor Kyle who had seen me in emergency. I went down in my bed to get an ultrasound and I cried.
The ultrasound was super painful but also the look on the lady’s face was not fun. She examined the gall bladder extensively and said it was enlarged and did not look good. I then said don’t forget to look at appendix. She assured me she would get there. She then headed down there and said ‘oh’. I asked her what she saw and she said they really are not allowed to say but she said appendicitis definitely and inflamed gall bladder. She added that it’s very unusual for both.
The ward man then came to move me. I cried and he kindly gave me a box of tissues.
The ultrasound woman saw me grab my phone and said that I should see a doctor first before I text anyone.
I just felt sad this was happening. Relived she could not see a tumour. Cancer is always on my mind. I felt really alone. Ed was heading to hospital so was good timing.
Ed was here when doctor miles came for me to sign forms and explain next steps.
‘Definitely an appendix. That needs to come out and we will look at your gall bladder. Think it needs some antibiotics and maybe out in a month’.
Surgery happened that afternoon. I was crying. The anaesthetist asked about my kids and what I do and I cried when I told him I care for my daughter with leukaemia. I think he might have shed a tear too.
First time having an anaesthetic. Crazy since I am 45 and all my kids have had one as young children.
When I woke I was confused as to where I was and what had happened. Delirium.
Now back in the ward for a few days. I kept waking and looking for Ruby. I miss her. She misses me and I just want to get home to her but only when I am pain free. Hope that is soon.
More endone – lots of it – and what happens when I nod off …. I imagine Ruby gently stroking my face and holding hand. I miss her.
Another ridiculous story to add to our wild 2016 year.