A shopping list:
- Morphine, slow release 10mg tablets. Pretty jazzy these. They’re yellow and white, and look like something Dr Suess might have whipped out of his side-pockets for a breezy day in the park. Side effect – you might want to eat a lot of fibre from now on.
- Morphine, slow release 5mg. Far less jazzy. Just white little tablets. No colours, less fun. More fibre needed if you’re gonna ingest this one.
- Morphine (oral solution) 10mg/5ml + little purple mouth syringe for measuring. Pretty fun this stuff, if you like sleeping a lot. It tastes super medicinal and knocks you out. Reserved for super pain. Side effect – seriously man, get reaching for those prunes.
- Paracetamol. Yeah, let’s not wet our knickers about this one. We all know paracetamol fairly well; but do you know what, it’s a pretty nifty drug this and they invented it ages ago now.
- Fragmin (dalteparin) 15,000 IU/0.6ml – and let me tell you, the injection of this juice hurts like a bitch. It’s got a weird consistency too. It’s sort of sticky like a melted calipo sun lolly, but it’s not orange flavoured and it will thin that blood out nicely. Side effect – bruised injection sites that may make other holiday makers question whether I am factually on ‘the smack’, when I holiday in Crete soon.
- Movicol – laxative sachets. Wahey – these are synthesised to taste like traditional lemonade I’m sure of it. Except it doesn’t. It tastes of the cheap chemical squash that you can buy from budget shops for 5p. The kind that has nothing but aspartame in it. Mixing this up is fun though, like science class. Side effect – too much of this and you might (will) find yourself running for the powder room with your keks round your ankles.
- Ondansetron 8mg – anti-sickness tablets. Boring. Except they’re expensive and really necessary because they stop the dry heaves. At my age, when you have an attack of the wretches, particularly on public transport, people think you’ve overdone the gin. If only! These stop those awkward stares.
- Metaclopromide 10mg tablets – more anti vomming buttons. They work. They don’t come in a special colour. Que sera sera.
- Loperimide 2mg – tablets to bung you up if you’ve got the shits (or if you’ve overdone the movicol). Let’s be honest, chemo can really give you the shits. You see people vomming on those Macmillan adverts, but maybe what they should really show is all that time spent on the toilet. The sheer amount of toilet paper consumed. The tighter stomach muscles because of all that squatting. These are for those days. It’s a fragile balance all this y’know.
- Hydrocortisone cream 1.0% – for dry cracked skin. Chemo makes your feet & hands super-dry so a bit of this whapped on those challenging areas leaves everything coming up silky again. Side effects – skin thinning. Never EVER put this on your face unless you want to end up looking like that sexy night-time visitor, Freddy Kruger.
- Clenil modulate 100mcg – steroid inhaler in a charming brown colour. This is about keeping lung capacity and ability as good as possible while my liver is squishing against my right lung.
- Boots vitamins and minerals – HA – put this one in just to fool you suckaaaa. This has nothing to do with cancer treatment, and everything to do with me wanting to make sure that I’m still getting As to Zs given all the gut torrent. Apparently though, Vitamin D is good for cancer and so is aspirin, so I chow down on those just because. These aren’t even the fun chewable ones though. They’re pale ivory coloured and are about as much fun as a tube of budget Rich Tea biscuits.
I only take one morphine pill (either 10mg or 5mg) each day depending on how jazzy I need to feel, and then can top up on any other pain meds as and if I need them. Believe it or not, these are quite low morphine doses, because I kind of appreciate that we’re dealing with opeoids here, and no one really wants to hallucinate a baby walking across the ceiling. I take the anti-sickness meds as and when I need them, but during chemo cycles in the first few days, the drug ingestion increases dramatically. Then I pretty much need all of these bad boys. Thanks to Aneurin Bevan I get them for free and actually that’s something to be hugely thankful for.
NB: there are a whole host of side effects that CAN come with these drugs – and in all seriousness, take only if prescribed by your GP and listen to your pharmacist carefully about things. You wouldn’t want to cock things up prematurely now would you.