I’m officially neutropenic, as of yesterday, thanks to all the recent chemo, which means I have a low level of neutrophils (important white blood cells) as a result I now have to be even more careful with regards hygiene, food, avoiding unwell people etc. as the risk of infection is extremely high and a minor infection could quickly become serious. I’m pleased to say my haemoglobin levels are pretty respectable; blood transfusions are given when a patient’s level drops to around 8. Once upon a time, having a transfusion made me completely grossed me out, I had no choice but to deal with my phobia and I’m a very calm accepting patient when it comes to blood transfusions, these days. Personally, I’d prefer to avoid transfusions, if possible, because blood is a precious resource and I’d rather it go to someone more in need. My platelet levels aren’t too bad; I’m resigned to needing platelets at some point that said, again, I’d sooner someone else benefitted. I have twice daily observations in the hospital and I’m rarely without my trusty thermometer. I will continue to be neutropenic until my bone marrow has started to recover and produce new blood cells. The hope is that Superman’s cells being young, fresh and not battered from months of chemo will ‘wake up’ and start to make blood before the vast majority of my cells. It’s a waiting game.
Today, Day +6 I receive what ought be my final chemotherapy as part of my leukaemia and transplant treatment. I’ve received thirty two days chemotherapy over the last five and a half months. I’m not posting a photo with a piece of paper saying ‘my last day of chemo’ because I’ve learnt in life ‘never say never’. None of us know what could be lurking around the corner and although I would very much like to believe I’ll never have chemo again and that Brad Pitt is waiting around the corner for me, I don’t have a crystal ball. If you put a featherweight and heavyweight boxer in the ring together your money would be on the heavyweight. Cancer is vicious and therefore it requires something equally wicked to stand a chance of kicking the cr*p out of it. As unpleasant as the chemotherapy has been, at times, it has ultimately been my ally; it put me into remission and has prepared me for the transplant.
Nine years ago, I had pneumonia, trust me I don’t make a habit of having serious illnesses and I do not have some sick desire to spend time in hospitals. Anyway, that illness prompted me to consider the bucket list notion. I didn’t initially draw up a list; instead I promised myself that every year I would do something I’ve always wanted to do. Subsequently I did a parachute jump, went abseiling, kayaking etc. and as each year rolled by; I struggled to come up with a new activity to challenge myself with. Therefore, I eventually drew up a list the vast majority of which consisted of places I wanted to go to and things I wanted to see. When I was diagnosed with leukaemia in March that list suddenly lost its meaning to me. Ultimately when I examined what I really wanted, faced with the genuine prospect of death, it wasn’t to hand glide, travel etc. it was simply to be able to spend time with those I love. I have nephews and a niece I want to be there for should they need their aunts advice, help. I have friends and loved ones whom I truly want to see achieve their ambitions and if by supporting them, I can help then I’d rather do that than jump out of a plane. As much as travelling and personal experience provide a wealth of knowledge they aren’t a substitute being there for people you love. My bucket list will be going in the bin because it’s really quite simply to me now; I aspire to make every effort to be there for others through the good and the bad times.
I’ve been blessed to have visitors most days since I returned to Barts, I’m having lunch with a friend later and I have no doubt the conversation will be a refreshing change from the medical tête-à-têtes I have twice daily on the ward.
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