Archive for August, 2019

Too good to be true…

August 22nd, 2019 No comments

Well I cruised through the first 6 days on the stem cell transplant. What’s all the fuss about? HHhhmm….

Let me start with some detail on the actual transplant – as its quite interesting. The cells which were harvested from me a a few weeks ago were returned from the lab. In fact the process took place over 2 days – 6 bags per day. So they arrive in this weird sci fi thing which is essentially a cooler with dry ice keeping the temperature down a long way below zero.

They then need to defrost the bag so that it will flow back into my blood stream. Using a water bath the cells take about 15 minutes to arm up, at which point they are ready for reinfusion.

My stem cells

The process is time consuming and not helped by the fact that the nurse has to manually push the new cells back into me with a syringe – they are a bit lumpy so don’t flow nicely down a catheter. So she sucks them into syringe, flicks the tap at the top and then pushes them into me.

All in all quite interesting and a bit scary if Im honest! So then its all down to waiting. Day zero is the day the stem cells come back which was wed last week. They say the worst is day 5 which was monday. To be honest Ive been almost too fine until late Tuesday this week when things started to go pear shaped. Diahhorea and a total inability to eat doesn’t help. But then last night I got a fever. A fever which is stubbornly refusing to go away.

I sit here now Thursday evening with a bag of ice on my head (really!). Not the most modern plan to lower temp but maybe it works. Despite the fever I feel that things are improving a tiny bit. I managed to hold some food down today – will try again now with a late dinner of a chocolate protein shake and see how it goes!

On reflection the NHS staff are a really nice bunch. Very few of them are English by birth. Nurses seem to be philipino. Cleaners and juniors African. Sisters from Europe and doctors from all over. The activity last night when my temperature crossed the threshold was amazing – tests, cultures, antibiotics and even a chest x-ray! No waiting at 3 in the morning…

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Day Zero

August 14th, 2019 No comments

I was admitted last Sunday night to a delightful double room at St Barts which I shared with a chap who was in a very bad way from the same disease. He made me appreciate how lucky I am that we caught it early. He has been sick for 2 years and only recently did they correctly diagnose the issue.

Monday started with aa 45 minute procedure to insert a PICC line which is basically a semi permanent canula. Basically a tube goes into my arm and 44cm later emerges into the big veins just near the heart. End result is they can put stuff in and take blood tests without making new punctures each time which is a good thing! Apparently it can stay in for 18 months although I don’t imagine its being there that long.

Then came the Methalan along with loads of fluids etc to make it go down with less side effects. 6 bags in all.

They moved me to a single room yesterday – they want to isolate me from infection going forwards. So now I am in Ward 5C Bed 7. I guess I will be here a while.

Today is Wednesday and the stem cells will be re-introduced later today. All the while the white blood cell counts carry on towards zero at which point I will no longer have an immune system. Then the stem cells kick in with new cells and all is hunky dory. The zero day will be around the weekend and will coincide with when I get really sick!

Hair-wise – with it falling out anyway I have now shaved it all off. Picture below with my cap – thanks Brian and Dot!

So all in all I am well and all is good but the storm is on the horizon! Thank you all for your thoughts and those who have visited thanks for coming!

I end with a picture taken by Steve last night. He brought me some medicinal Irish drink …

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