Christopher Court - The Day Hospital

The Day Hospital

Christopher Court receiving chemo therapyAfter clinic and jamming with Mr. Mike the music therapist, it was off to the day hospital to receive the chemotherapy.  This part would take around 3 hours to complete and by the end of it Chris was usually tired and throwing up.  Each bay in the day hospital contained a large reclining armchair, a TV, a guest chair or two, a mobile pole with the infusion pumps on it and a standard hospital pull around curtain for privacy.  The first thing was to get hooked up to the infusion pump and over the course of around 30 minutes he would receive a cocktail of drugs to help with the nausea and vomiting that was to come.  This cocktail changed nearly every visit until finally they found a combination that actually seemed to improve the situation.  Once hooked up, the children are able to get up and move around but they have to take the pole with them.  Chris usually stayed put unless he needed the bathroom.

Christopher Court practicing with an IVThere were a couple of occasions when Chris went to the play area because Miss Meghan had a special activity for him.  She would fill a surgical glove with pink colored water and Chris would practice inserting an IV needle into the glove and draw "blood" samples from it.  More often, Chris would occupy his time with building Lego, playing with his electronic circuits kit or playing a game on the iPad.  Often he would have to wear his mom's glasses (neck chain and all) because the anti-anxiety medicine would make his vision blurry.

Next up was the first of the chemo drugs, Avastin.  Initially this was administered over one and a half hours, but once it was established that it did not cause a drop in blood pressure, the time was reduced to half an hour.  Avastin never caused Chris any problems.  Each course of drugs was followed by saline to flush out the lines and ensure all the drugs had been infused; this would add 15 to 20 minutes after each of the 3 courses.

Finally came the Irinotecan - this gave Chris the most trouble.  Almost as soon as it started to go in he would start salivating and needing to spit into a bowl - this would go on for hours afterwards.  The last thing before discharge was to have his port de-accessed.  Part of this involved flushing the port with Heparin to prevent clots in the line; this would give Chris a metallic taste in his mouth and would usually make him throw up.  There were a few occasions where he would throw up every 30 minutes from the end of treatment up until 11 or 12pm that night.  On one of these occasions Chris uttered the heart breaking phrase "This is the worst day of my life".

The puke bucketIn the last few treatments before his death, they realized that it was not nausia or anxiety that was causing the vomiting, but all the secretions that he was swallowing.  Once they gave him drugs to dry up the secretions and an anti histamine to make him drowsy, chemo days became more tolerable.  It was on a chemo day that the east coast earthquake occurred, but Chris missed it because the anti histamine had put him to sleep - he was so disappointed.

Sometimes Chris would go to school the day after chemo, but on several occasions his mom had to go and get him early because he fell asleep at his desk.