We’re out for dinner at a local pub with some friends the evening after my final chemo session. We’re sitting chatting away quite happily waiting for our meal to arrive. I go into my handbag and smugly take out my final post-chemo medicine of the day, a tablet of the drug domperidone to guard against nausea and vomiting that I’ve very responsibly remembered to bring with me.
I know how critical these drugs are; I’ve taken all my post-chemo meds religiously since I started chemo in mid-August and have felt or been sick only once.
As I go to take the tablet, I realise with a massive jolt that I’ve forgotten to give myself the injection I’m meant to take 24 hours after the end of the previous day’s chemo session. Chemo lowers your white blood cell production and so weakens your body’s immune system; this injection – of a drug called lipegfilgrastim – boosts your white blood cell production and so strengthens your immune system and reduces the risk of you getting an infection after chemo.
I break out in a cold sweat and my heart starts racing*. I have visions of myself being struck down with a massive infection if I don’t get hold of the injection and inject it straight away. It’s sitting in the fridge back home. I’m six hours late. I should have taken it at 3pm and it’s now nearly 9pm.
We ask the waitress to get the kitchen to hold the food, I grab my jacket and dash out of the pub. I get outside… and have a flash of inspiration. I have two teenage sons at home. May as well put them to some use. So I phone home, and the son who answers – it happens to be the older one – gets the instruction to bring the injection asap, together with the “sharpsguard” container for the used syringe and an alcohlic swab to clean the area of skin where I make the injection. He’s under strict instructions to keep the injection horizontal (it mustn’t be shaken). He arrives at the pub 20 minutes later, apparently having tried unsuccessfully to persuade his younger brother to come instead. He’s holding the box the injection is in very carefully.
I head down to loo and do the deed. I guess they may have had the odd diabetic inject insulin but I would think this is the first time anyone has injected this particular drug in this particular pub! Incidentally, this pub, the Balham Bowls Club, has to be one of the best in south London.
Job done, and the rest of the evening passes beautifully. That was over two weeks ago. I stayed clear of that massive infection I feared I’d get. Phew.
*I told this story to a woman I met at the centre where I’m being treated and who I’d say is now a firm friend and she said she would just have assumed it’d be ok to wait until she got home a few hours later to have the injection. I think it’s fair to say I’m fairly stressed out over this whole thing.