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The Adventure Begins…

Thursday 11th August 2022 will be a day I will never forget, not just because it was the first day of my chemo treatment, but because it was the second hottest day ever in the UK and the room in which I was to spend 8 hours hooked up to drugs was a glass-paneled atrium with no air conditioning! Not only was this going to make the day quite a marathon of endurance, but that heat would, later in the day, be the cause of a blood bath! Don’t get me wrong, the large Haematology treatment room with 12 private bays is a lovely light-filled space and would, on days of a more regular temperature, be a pleasant, comfortable space in which to spend the day. I settled into Bay 6 well, being greeted by the Haematology nurses with a nice strong cup of coffee (necessary after a 6am start to be ready for the Welsh Ambulance Trust Patient Transport) and a large glass of water – one of many I would need to drink during the day to protect my kidneys from leukocytosis. Then it was on to baseline tests, including my weight and a full blood count – these levels would be monitored at every visit and in between by blood tests administered by my local surgery. Finally, around 10 am, the first cannula was inserted in my left hand to begin the first infusion of saline to ‘flush me out’, ready for the chemotherapy. The first hour was good as I got to know the names of the nurses who would very soon become life-saving angels. I had come prepared with a novel to read, a journal in which to scribble my reflections and a puzzle book and managed to distract myself and relax somewhat. Then it was time for the lifesaving ‘nectar’ Obinutuzumab to flood my veins and the drip was swapped over from the saline solution. So far, so good and I felt a huge wave of relief that, after almost 8 years of active monitoring and knowing that I was getting progressively more ill, that I was finally having an active intervention. I was shown the button to press to alert the nurses in the event that I didn’t feel okay and settled back into my book (out of interest, I was reading The Sellout by Paul Beatty, which I highly recommend). I had around 10 minutes of calm before the storm and the button was urgently pressed – I was struggling to breathe and felt terribly nauseous. The next thing I remember was someone shouting for help, and I was surrounded by five nurses, oxygen mask on and the drip disconnected. Within seconds I had a dose of adrenaline and antihistamine which seemed to work almost instantaneously, and, with the help of the oxygen, my breathing became a little easier. Unfortunately, during the melee, my brand-new bra had to be cut off – I was gutted, after all, didn’t your mum raise you to always wear new underwear to a medical appointment?! Mine was now in the bin – I’m no seamstress! So, it turns out that I had a bad reaction to the chemo and so they re-started me, but on a much slower flow; this I managed to tolerate, and I settled down for the next few hours, safe in the knowledge that these miracle-workers had my back. Unfortunately, I tested their emergency skills for a second time around 4pm when, due to the extreme heat, my skin was so sweaty (sorry for being graphic, but weren’t we all for several days in August 2022?) and, with just a slight movement of my right hand to turn the page of my book, the cannula slipped out and, my goodness, what a mess! I won’t say much more than I had blood in my hair and all over my feet, courtesy of my blood platelet level being just 19 (normal range for a woman is 150 – 450). A clean up ensued and, the kindly and unflappable nurses found a new vein and, for the second time that day, re-started the infusion. Finally, around 6pm I arrived back at the cottage, feeling like I’d started my treatment journey just as I’d lived my whole life – always some drama, but smiling throughout and getting there in the end!

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About Me


Hi, I'm Angela, also known as 'Space Angel ‘, on Twitter and 'Snakey' to my family (both monikers require a long story to explain!). I'm 58 and the proud mum of Charlie, my 26-year-old son. I live alone in my cottage in Llanrhaeadr Ym Mochnant, a beautiful village in the Tanat Valley in North Wales, and the location of the tallest waterfall in Wales.


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