Thought I'd jot down my experiences whilst they're fresh in my mind.
So I started on the 25th of Jan, heading in the night before and doing the usual hospital routine...bloods, MRSA swabs (ick) a micralax mini enema (did it myself) and then a crap night's sleep worrying about the morning.
Got out of bed at 6.15 and had a shower, put on my sexy TED stockings in flattering white and the nasty hospital gown, taking care not to bare my arse to the chap in the room opposite me. I was collected by hospital porters at 7am and by 7.30am I was in the anaesthetic room and quickly put to sleep. A fantastic nurse stayed with me the whole time.
Woke in recovery and instantly I felt for pain but apart from being aware that there was something 'down there' like a jumbo tampon or a swiss roll (I know, weird...but I was drugged up don't forget!) my mouth was drier than dry and I was given some water.
As soon as I was more awake I was taken to the CT scanner, which was super quick...like ten minutes I think? And then across the corridor to MRI which was a bit longer, about 20 mins I think but I had to ask afterwards as I think I fell asleep
After that I was taken back to the ward and given *the best* cuppa ever and a Dairylea sarnie (thanks Jo, super nurse!) and had a bit of a doze.
Knowing that the porters were coming back for me at 12 Jo recommended topping up on pain relief and I was given oramorph and oxycontin. Now, I'm a hippy and have never taken anything stronger than paracetamol so I was a bit reluctant, but they made me relax and feel a bit floaty...in a good way. Apparently I was super impressed with the squirrels outside the window....
I was taken down to the brachytherapy suite and they set about attaching some tubes and bits and bobs and this bit is totally painless, as is the treatment which took about 13 mins. I dozed again and listened to 80s hits!
Now, taking out the rods..I was given gas and air which I don't think helped really but I didn't find the first one that uncomfortable..the packing is removed first and then the rods and the circular applicator. It was a bit weird, but not painful.
My next treatment the following Tuesday was a little different. My oncologist was bothered about further damage to my bowel and bladder and told me he wanted to try something called interstital brachytherapy. He explained that it uses extra tiny rods (like needles, but don't worry about that term..) and that this was gold standard treatment and really would help me avoid more damage. So I agreed, because basically he's a great guy and always explains things so well and is so bloody positive. Like a coward I asked if it would make it more painful. He said 'possibly' because it involves using more rods and a different applicator. I still agreed. I don't want a Crispy Fried Bladder.
So it was all as before, general anaesthetic, recovery (I tried to get off the bed apparently) and then tea and toast (yum) and then pain relief only this time the nurse only gave me co-codamol and no ora-morph so I said 'nope' and was eventually given ora morph. I felt a lot more uncofortable in the old foof area and I wasn't tackling removal without ma druuuugs....I'm glad, because removal was painful, not unbearable and I don't want to put anyone off, it is TOTALLY do-able. Seriously..but I felt every ridge of the old vaginal exit...like Christopher Robin dragging Winnie the Pooh down the stairs!
I was a bit sore afterwards, and the fatigue I experienced during external radio returned, but you know...nothing I couldn't handle.
Final one was a little different as due to a bed shortage I was put on a urology ward, not great but you know..shit happens so I was a bit more stressed out due to a bad night's sleep and worrying if they'd know which drugs I needed etc.
So my last one was yesterday and I think the three anaesthetics are catching up with me. I am really tired out and the intensive radio obviously...bad wind today (I blamed the dog) and some burning when I wee, a mix of the brachy and the catheter.
Forgot to mention the catheter...you won't be allowed home unless you pee a decent amount after it comes out. As you're nil by mouth from midnight the night before, make sure to drink plenty when you come back to the ward before your treatment. I didn't and as a result got dehydrated and wasn't allowed home until 8pm!!!!
Removal was uncomfortable but really really quick!
So there you have it. If you want to ask anything, please do. But most of all DO have your brachy..I see women on an American FB forum who talk each other out of it. My oncologist described it as 'the final kick up the arse of your tumour*.' so it is massively important.
*I named my tumour Nigella. She also gets on my bits and bobs!