Monday, 23 November 2009

the swine!

flu jab is the thing that's been entertaining me this last few days. I thought, well given that I'm an NHS priority for once I'll get down there and get both flu jabs before I start the chemo. (Although astonishingly no-one at any point told me to. I just got encouraging nods and "oh yes, that would be a good idea wouldn't it!" from the hospital when I had the foresight to suggest it). Also in the priority category are the children (high infection risk at school) John (high infection risk from the high infection risk children) Mike (looking after me a lot)and our pets and all their offspring (not really and we don't have any anyway).

So I turn up and have my jabs (one flu, one swine flu) and am then told that although everyone else (children, carers, pets but not really etc) will just have one swine flu jab, I will have to have two because I will be immunosuppressed (immunoimpressed?). And that the second jab has to be three weeks later (11th December). So exactly at the point when the first course of chemo will have wiped out my blood count. Not thinking this is ideal, I ask why I didn't get called sooner then, so as to get the two jabs out of the way before the chemo starts, and should I therefore delay the chemo so as not to be needlessly carried off by swine flu when the NHS has put so much effort into saving my life from cancer?

Turns out the GP's surgery hadn't contacted me to suggest this because technically I'm actually not a priority after all. That's because I've only had (or only may still have)cancer which does not, of itself, put me in a more vulnerable category. Undergoing chemotherapy does. (Undergoing radiotherapy doesn't because it doesn't knacker your immune system). Not a lot of people know that. So you don't get called until you are actually in the at-risk category of having chemo by which time you're immuno-suppressed and having to deal with a)the risk of your resistance to it being nil (although, granted, it's not a live vaccine)and b)any side-effects this might provoke at the same time as all the side-effects from the chemo. Fab!

So I've suggested wouldn't it be a good idea to take two simple steps -
1 the hospital advise people to get their flu jab as far in advance of the chemo starting as soon as possible after they've recovered from surgery and
2 the hospital write as soon as possible to the GPs to warn them that chemo will be commencing in roughly so many weeks which will put their patient in a priority category so can they get their flu jabs out of the way now please.
Just an idea. I can't think there would be many people who would queue-jump to avoid dying of swine flu at any cost and then decline chemo, though I could be wrong...

Anyway the happy news for me is that the nurse did in fact give me the full dose so my oncologist will probably think that is sufficient, as I wasn't immunosuppressed when I had it. I'll know on Wednesday when I see her. And am going to orthotic services as well (that's wigs to you).

On a more cheery note I had the kids for the first time since my surgery, for the WHOLE weekend! and jolly good fun it was too. They even thought so!

ta-ra a bit.

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