I Messed Up a €1,000 Injection

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After each round of chemotherapy, my white blood cell count hits rock bottom. To give it a bit of a rev, I get a booster injection 24 hours after the chemo finishes.

I have to administer it myself at home.

Here is the 10-step plan I followed the first time I had to do it last weekend:

  1. Spend the day checking the time to see whether the injection is due. Time passes slowly.
  2. Finally! Calmly unpack syringe and instructions.
  3. Jesus! The size of that frikkin' needle!
  4. Breathe, breathe, breathe. Read the instructions. Don't look at the needle.
  5. WTF! It's spring frikkin' loaded! ... Oh, that's the retraction mechanism.
  6. Breathe. Read instructions. Oooh, look drawings ... graphic drawings. I don't feel so well.
  7. Realise we have no disinfectant-coated swabs to clean the injection site as per instructions. Visiting mother suggests we use cotton wool and Bertha's Revenge gin instead.
  8. Take protective cap off syringe. Size. Of. That. Needle.
  9. Do it! Just do it! Don't think about it! WTF! WFT! WTF! Is it in deep enough? Screw it! Just press the plunger! Go! Go! Go! Is the chamber empty? I can't tell! It's empty! Extract! Extract! Oh Jesus, is that fluid coming back out of the puncture in my skin? Frik-fukkity-frik! I didn't stick the needle in deep enough! Lie still! Lie still! This is a €1,000 injection! That must be at least €250 that came back out. Idiot!
  10. All done. Piece of cake.

I think it's the combination of English and Dutch genes that allows me to pull of this sort of demanding operation calmly and effectively.

Average is Terrifying in Hospital

So far, apart from the actual disease itself, the biggest downer of having cancer is the number of needles I've had stuck into me. At one point, they were going in so regularly, I was expecting someone to shout "One hundred and eiiiiightyyyyyyyy!!!!"

Thanks to the port that was installed in my chest, the number of needle sites I have to put up with has reduced dramatically. That is a relief. At the same time, the worry gradient I have about having tubing permanently installed in my chest and neck has gone from 0 degrees to 90 degrees. That's not helped by the following exchange:

Me (on the operating table to the young man installing my port): Thank you for the good work you did today.

Port installation surgeon: Well, work, anyway.

NO. That's not what I want to hear. I want to hear that it is the best job anyone has ever done installing an implanted port. It's a frikkin' work of art. When I'm all good and healthy, it will hang in the V&A as one of the most beautiful and greatest achievements in engineering and design of the 21st century. THAT's what I want to hear.

Maybe he was just being modest.

Anyway, thanks to the under-skin plumbing, I have a single needle site, rather than multiple puncture locations on my hands and arms.


If you'd like to receive a more detailed account of my tussle with Hercule, maybe you'd like to sign up for the Roger v Hercule newsletter here: Roger v Hercule.

Roger Overall