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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Preparing for your transplant or high-dose treatment with stem cell support

Having high-dose treatment with stem cell support or a transplant is very demanding, physically and emotionally. Your family and friends may also find this a very stressful time. It may be helpful to talk about your fears and concerns. Some people are able to discuss things with the people closest to them, and find that this brings them even closer together. Other people prefer to talk to someone outside their immediate circle, such as their GP, a specialist nurse, a counsellor or a social worker.

It is important that you understand why you are having the treatment and what the actual processes will be. Then, you can make practical arrangements and also prepare yourself mentally. Before you go into hospital, it is a good idea to have a discussion with the doctors and nurses who will be looking after you. They can explain what is likely to happen, so that you know what to expect. It is helpful to take your partner, a close relative or a friend with you. They will then be informed and can explain visiting arrangements and precautions to your other visitors. They can also warn them that you will not be well for some time.

Hospitals vary in the way they look after people. However, you will usually be in a room on your own for a while, perhaps even several weeks. The isolation and visiting restrictions may make you feel very lonely, frightened and depressed at a time when you might want people around you. If you feel like this it is helpful to let the staff looking after you know.

You may think that you will have a lot of time on your hands. However, you may not feel well enough to do very much, at least at the beginning of your treatment. A lot of your day will be taken up with medical and nursing procedures including:

  • regularly taking medicines
  • having your temperature and blood pressure checked
  • frequent visits and examinations by the doctors and nurses looking after you.

But, it is a good idea to take in some books, pens and paper, a radio or personal stereo or other pastimes. Then you will have them for the times when you do feel ready for a little activity. Many hospitals have radios, TV and DVD players so you can also listen to or watch your favourite programmes or DVDs.

Some question you might like to ask

  • Who can visit me?
  • What are the visiting hours?
  • How long can my visitors stay?
  • Will my treatment make me feel too ill to see people?
  • What precautions will my visitors need to take when they come to see me?
  • What do you suggest I should bring into hospital with me to make my stay more comfortable?
  • Is there a television in the room?
  • Is there a telephone link in the room? Will I need coins or a phone card to use it? Can I bring in a mobile phone?
  • Can I bring in a laptop computer? Will I be able to access the internet?
  • Can I bring in my own nightclothes? Will I have to ask a relative to wash them for me?
  • What will I be able to eat?
  • Are there any foods that I should avoid?
  • What can my visitors bring when they come to visit me? What about flowers and favourite foods?

Try to visit the unit or ward more than once before you go in to the hospital for your treatment, and write a list of further questions before your second visit. Many people find it very helpful to discuss the procedure with someone who has already had the same treatment. Your doctor or the support organisations should be able to put you in contact with someone.

Being fully informed and prepared will help to make the treatment easier for you and your family.

Via: http://www.cancerbackup.org.uk

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