Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Day + 120

I forgot to let you all know how my Bone Marrow Aspiration and Trephine went. It happened last Friday and was my fifth one in total.
It was fine.
There was hardly any pain at all this time around. Dr. Katrina was perfect and I'd had a whack of morphine earlier in the day so I think that the combination of an excellent doctor and drugs did the trick. She had a brief naked eye visual examination of the cells recovered and was very happy with them saying that "they look very healthy and there are an awful lot of them". This hopefully means that the engraftment of stem cells was a complete success

I thought I'd explain exactly what this procedure is.
First you have a local anaesthetic injection into the skin over the biopsy site - usually your hip bone - to numb it. When this has worked, the doctor puts the needle in. For a bone marrow aspiration, the needle is quite thin. For a bone marrow trephine, the needle is thicker. Either way, the doctor needs to put the needle through the skin, into the hip bone and into the centre of the bone, where the marrow is. If you are having a marrow aspiration, the doctor then sucks a cubic millilitre of bone marrow cells into the needle. You feel a sudden, sharp pain when the doctor starts drawing the bone marrow cells out. If you are having a trephine biopsy as well, the doctor will take this needle out and put the second one in.
If you are having a trephine, the doctor will turn the needle back and forth (hard!) while pushing it further into the marrow. The aim is to get a one or two centimetre core of marrow out in one piece. Once it is in far enough, the doctor will draw out the needle, containing its core of marrow. The needle going into the hip bone can be painful, but it doesn't last for too long. The core is then placed in a solution and looks like the worm in the bottom of a bottle of good tequila.

So, I'm still not eating, although I can manage lightly boiled eggs mashed up in a cup. I am being weaned again!
I am going into the office tomorrow to have a full and frank discussion with HR and my boss about when I should return to work. I'm not up to it right now. I know my GP has written a report so it'll be interesting to see what that says.

Finally, we are setting the wheels in motion for our anti-cancer visit to Boston. We have settled on the 26th June to the 3rd July and have picked our hotel. It's just a matter of getting flights now but things are slightly inflated due to the 4th July celebrations. I'm sure we'll find something.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Veronica and I (and the weans) went to see my Super Doc today. I haven't seen him in over 2 months so it was high time we touched based. Fortunately Wonder Nurse was also kicking about so I got alot of emotional and psychological garbage off my chest... which was nice. I'm arranging to have a few more one on one sessions as my mental health is not the greatest at the moment and I know it is worrying Veronica.
Anyway, all my blood work checked out OK again and I passed another quick "prod test". The rest of the consultation was just general chat and what to do now. I'm not having another scan until after Christmas (Woo hoo!) as my oncologist doesn't want to see "a large, shrivelled up dead tumor during the festive season". We're really pleased about this as it means we can just concentrate on the weans and not having me panicking about results like I was last year... it made Christmas suck. Also, I haven't heard him talk this confidently about my condition for a long time and it was nice to hear it.

Anyways, off to Glasgow tomorrow afternoon for my final bone marrow aspiration. Can't say I'm looking forward to it but it's the last one so let's just get it over with. This BMA is to see how likely or not I am to develop Leukaemia later on in life. I get the results in November.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Radiotherapy is not the easy option!

Contrary to widely held beliefs, mine included, radiotherapy is not a stroll in the park for everyone! Today I gave into my throat pain and went to see my GP as I couldn't get through to a specialist in Glasgow. The advantage of seeing my GP is that his brother is my Stem Cell Transplant consultant so he can use the old boys network to get me the info I require.
After a thorough examination where everything was poked and prodded (no hard nodes... yey!) my GP decided that specialist advice was indeed needed and so sent me on my merry way whilst he worked his magic.
I'd just got home when he called to say that he had gotten through to my radiotherapist (someone I have yet to see) and that the intense pain is to be expected due to the area of therapy. I should have been given morphine at my last appointment in Glasgow... whoopsie! My GP has now given me the morphine (take 4 times a day) and told me that the pain should peak on Friday / Saturday and that it should be plain sailing after that.

Hopefully I'll be able to eat something early next week.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Treatment complete.

On May 29th 2006 I had a 5cm lymph node removed from my neck for biopsy. This was my first taste of treatment for cancer.
Today, October 11th 2007, has seen me take my last treatment on a journey that has lasted 17 long, hard months.

Thank-you to everyone who has helped myself, Veronica and the girls make it this far. You know who you are and we couldn't have done it without you. God Bless you all.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Day + 104

I promised myself I wasn't going to update the blog until I had something positive or happy to say. Unfortunately I still don't have anything really positive to write about but I've been nagged to do a quickie update so here goes.
I have three more radiotherapy treatments to go and frankly they can't finish soon enough. The daily grind of a 4 hour round trip into Glasgow everyday has taken its toll and I am 100% puddle-ducked. I'm still not eating and the throat is worse than ever so I'm surviving on prescribed Calshakes. I take two a day and they give me nutrients and 1200 calories.... I've been told I need circa 3000 calories right now. The fact that I am managing to drink these shakes has meant that I don't need a feeding tube inserted in my nose and I have been managing a meal (usually something spicy) every other day. I'll be glad when this is over.

Day + 100 came and went. I didn't think I would make it but I did and I'm very much still alive. I managed to go from leaving hospital to day +100 without getting ill and then on day +101 I caught the nasty lurgy and cough that my little girls have been fighting all week. Bloody typical!

Big congratulations to Skie who was released from SCT today. At only day +12 she has shown remarkable strength and put me to shame! As too has my man Brian in California! Brian has to undergo what they call a "tandem SCT". This basically means that he has to have 2 SCTs in quick succession. Instead of getting BEAM chemo in a one'er like I did he gets the M for the first transplant and then the BEA part for the second. He has just been released from his first one and at day +16 appears to be doing just great.
Also, Duane continues to make a remarkable recovery from his allo-SCT and is a constant source of inspiration to me.