Kidney tests may very well be the devil.

So today was the GFR (kidney) test.

I don’t like it. I don’t want to do it again, thanks (hopefully I won’t have to, I’m not sure).

But let’s start from the beginning. I’ll warn you, this might be a bit of a long one.

First I had my echo test at 9am. Super easy. A lady puts gel on your chest and then takes photos…. Ok well it sounds a bit dodgy when you put it like that… But one of my chemo drugs can affect your heart so they make sure it’s ticking as intended first. Heartbeats look pretty in ultrasound form.

It only took about 15 minutes and I had an hour to kill before my next test. So I went somewhere nearby for coffee where I knew I’d had good coffee before. But today they decided not to play. Probably the worst coffee I had ever had. I think maybe the milk was off, it tasted so sour.

So I left it on the table and headed back to the hospital for my GFR test (yes, one of my drugs can damage your kidneys), excited to see what this was all about.

The first step is to inject you with this radioactive stuff. Which might I say – super cool! But injecting me is always a saga. So they inject you in one arm first, then you go away and come back in two hours, and then they put in a cannula in the other arm to take the first of three blood samples, then you go away again and come back in an hour and then once more.

So they had to pick the less good arm for the injection.

After about 10 mins of looking in both arms (pins and needles in my arms by this point because of that tight thing they put on your upper arm first to make your veins pop out and say hi), he went in. And failed, obviously. Not nice. Kept trying to find it, I felt queezy, remembered how I have been here so many times before, with people hunting for my veins for hours and I had a little meltdown. Poor Antonio. I had to lie down on the bed for a while.

Then another nurse came in and said ‘can I try? I want to have a go’. Great. Instilling me with confidence.

But before she could line up for a turn, someone else walked in and they were like ‘thank goodness you’re here, can you do this?’

So I got the master. She went into the vein in the back of my hand though which was a bit stressful but ok. It swelled up pretty quickly afterwards and was quite bruised and sore but whatever. At least it was over.

Then I went to get some lunch, was disappointed by Franco Manca’s terrible pizza once again (what is with that place!) and set off to find some good coffee this time!! What a relief finding The Penny Drop at Tottenham Court Road!! And a fantastic ANZAC Biscuit. This made my day. Will definitely become my new regular spot.

By the way, there are some pics of all this on my instagram story if anyone is interested (don’t worry, no needles) – @thecancerchrons – I started a new account for all this stuff.

When I came back to the hospital to get my cannula in Antonio was like ‘uhhhh I’m going to get someone else to do yours’. Aww poor Antonio (later on when I saw him he apologised again for failing and said ‘no hard feelings?’. I assured him we were good, and he breathed a deep sigh of relief. Sorry for worrying you so much, Antonio, you were lovely). Anyway it meant I got seen super quickly, and she got the cannula in fine, in the normal spot on the inside of the elbow. Relief. But my goodness it hurt. She kept telling me it shouldn’t hurt and asked me where. Where?? My left foot obviously. Idiot. She asked me to point to where. See that big needle sticking out of my arm?

She told me there’s no reason for it to hurt and I had a little cry because ow. The lady who had wanted to ‘try’ the first time around came in and said ‘oh it’s just her crying again. She always does that. She’s always crying. Ignore her.’

Sigh. To be fair though, so far I have cried about a man telling he wouldn’t take my earrings out and now about a needle. So she might have a point. Not about cancer though! Haven’t cried about that yet (but don’t judge me if I do at some point).

So she took the blood and sent me off to run around town for an hour. And gee it hurt. I had sharp stinging pains around the cannula every few seconds. So I wandered blindly around the streets feeling very sorry for myself. Until I stumbled upon Dillons coffee in Waterstone’s book shop and had a nice cup of tea. Order restored. Second blood sample taking was quite uneventful, though her forcefully trying to pull the blood out of my veins feels odd and of course it was all stinging quite a bit. I spent the next hour sitting on a park bench in the sun smiling, looking in on a private park that I wished I was sitting in, and had a nice little message chat with my good friend Ash from uni who told me her tip of how to fix the bumps on my ears from the piercings (shout out Ash, I owe you one). Then one more trip back to get the last sample, get the cannula out, and an apology for the pain and stress.

Anyway. It was all a bit stressful at the time. But looking back as I sit here now in the book shop with a glass of wine and Arctic Monkeys playing in the background (Crying Lightning!), and reflect on the day… Well I survived and I had some nice little adventures in between. Insert something about building moral fibre. Another day down, another day closer!!

Also I found out that chemo is now starting a day later because I have to have a PET Scan on Monday first (more needles, yay – I’m running out of veins!). So everyone put Tuesday 15th in your diaries!

15 thoughts on “Kidney tests may very well be the devil.

  1. julie

    That all sounds grim. You’re perfectly entitled to cry if someone sticks a whopping great cannula in you and the least you should expect is a cuddle or a handhold – definitely not dismissive sarcasm. At least this is one more day of tests done and ticked off.
    And completely off track I’m wondering why I’ve never had an Anzac biscuit and is it the same as an empire biscuit?
    Take care,
    Julie x

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  2. Jenna, this is horrible. Those nurses are nasty. Mum had trouble with her veins and blood tests. I hated seeing her get them and would hassle the nurses if it carried on too long. Hopefully you get a experience nurse from now on. And those comments how unnecessary. I would have gone off my rocket if I had been there! Keep being strong and you doing exceptional. Love yas

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    1. Unfortunately I have to go back to the same place today to get another injection! Fingers crossed it goes better this time! Yeah it’s not like I was trying to be a pain, silly people. Your snarky comments are unnecessary.

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  3. Tim Starling

    You may want to try asking for a local anaesthetic injection for cannulation. I had a lot of cannulas before a nurse let on that this was possible, that nurse in particular thought it was a good idea and encouraged me to give it a go. It seemed better to me — it means they have to stick something in you twice instead of once, but the peak amount of pain is lower. After that, I asked a subsequent doctor for local anaesthetic before cannulation, and he seemed genuinely surprised. He said “most patients prefer it to just be over and done with” — which may be true, or it may have been a projection of the doctor’s desire to save a minute of work. Considering you’re having pain after the cannula is in, it seems to me that you would benefit quite a lot from local anaesthetic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah that definitely sounds like a good idea, though I’m not bothered about the first attempt if it’s successful. The stress comes from if they have to try loads of times, and then it would be very good to be numb for it! I think it would be better all around. I think my veins are particularly sensitive to pain too, which I’m not sure local can help with (it struggled to when I got my PICC line in). But it might. Definitely worth asking about, I wouldn’t have though of doing so otherwise! Thanks!

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  4. Wendy Fairweather

    Hi Jenna, I’m reading your blog to Frank with tears. I know about those damn veins (and unsympathetic nurses). You have every right to be pissed off.
    It’s tough read but a hell of a lot tougher for you. Your world has somersaulted and like me as a kid trying to do gymnastics, you’ve landed on the painfull part and it bloody well hurts. Feel free to be upset!

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    1. Although I am super calm when everything goes right, it gets quite stressful when things go wrong! So when they miss the vein or can’t find the vein, I get a little panicky. But now I have my permanent cannula type thing, I feel so relieved. No more searching for veins, bruises and swellings! I feel liberated!!!
      But you are very right – lots of crazy things to get my head around. One day at a time 🙂

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  5. You’re doing really well Jen. Ignore the nurses comments about crying. You are entitled to cry whenever you want – everyone else be damned! I have to say you had me laughing again when you mentioned your left foot 😊 despite all the horrible tests it’s good that you haven’t lost your humour about it all. Hang in there. Xxx

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    1. Hehe sense of humour intact! I cry about the inconsequential things mostly. But If I want to shed a tear when someone pokes my veins then I bloody well will!! Mostly they’re lovely. Almost everyone has been so lovely so far. For that I am eternally grateful.

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  6. Hi. I know I’m late to this party but I had similar needle problems. At one point they went to get a nurse who excelled at getting the needle into a vein along side my wrist next to a nerve. You certainly have bragging rights, just look at all those bruises on you.

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      1. I’ve gone through that stage; went from telling every person who’d stop long enough to listen to not wanting to forget the whole ordeal.

        Still … Bragging rights!
        Not too many people have done what you’ve done.

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