I’ve always been a bit ‘fad-ish’, so it should come as no surprise that my initial enthusiasm to blog regularly about my cancer ‘journey’ waned at some point.
But my lack of on-line activity goes deeper than that. Way deeper than I can easily comprehend.
Some time in mid-May, I regained my precious Stem Cells, but lost my ‘Mojo’.
I was being drip-fed morphine and was in a worse state than I imagined/realised, so forgive me if I can’t give you the exact details, but I lost a whole pile of enthusiasm for many of the things that I love – reading books; browsing magazines; good food; fine beer; better TV; and writing.
Bluntly, I just couldn’t be arsed! I just wanted to rest, sleep or vegetate on social media reading Buzzfeed listicles.
But you know what? It’s not only cancer and other diseases that the NHS can help fight. They can help you deal with your psychological problems as well. I was lucky enough to be referred to the psycho-oncology service – essentially a clinical psychologist for cancer patients.
It’s not the ‘lie-on-the-couch-and-tell-me-about-your-childhood’ type of consultation, but a very, very helpful one-to-one service where you can chat about your issues at your own pace and develop coping techniques. And as well as an in-patient service, they’ve been happy to keep seeing me on an out-patient basis which is hugely appreciated.
So that’s where the blog’s been hiding for the past six weeks!
Now that I’m back, here’s what’s been happening.
Today I had a clinic appointment with my consultant. It was a good meeting. A very good meeting.
In short, I’m is as good a place as I could possibly be (her words), eight months after first being diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma.
My treatment is finished. I no longer need to keep coming into Ward 1 at the Western for regular blood tests. My many blood ‘counts’ are all good, showing the bone marrow is now working and my recovery is on track. I’m in remission.
Assuming I don’t catch an infection, my post-transplant monitoring will now be done via clinic appointments with my consultant – next one in six weeks (SIX WEEKS!). Then it’ll be every three months, then four months, then six months and if luck remains on my side might even get to annual check-ups.
I’ll get a precautionary CT Scan and follow-up Colonoscopy in the late autumn, but apart from my on-going psychologist meetings and some dental check ups, that’s my treatment over and done with – 21 days of chemotherapy, 12 days of Stem Cell transplant, a handful of infection admissions, numerous day visits to Ward 1 out-patients, and ‘hunners’ of injections.
Ironically, this ‘end point’ comes after two or three weeks of fairly intensive post-transplant activity.
I managed to pick up a fairly nasty infection in my Hickman Line three weeks ago which had me admitted for four days as they tried four different types of IV antibiotic to try and deal with my fever. And it was possibly this cocktail of antibiotics that caused a ‘chronic kidney injury’ that had me re-admitted for two days a week later, with my blood tests showing worryingly high scores on the creatine part of my kidney function test. All this meant I was at the Western for five days in one week!
The only hint I had of a kidney problem was an increased thirst throughout the day and a need (desperate need at times!) to visit the bathroom once or twice through the night. And though I’m told my blood tests are now ‘normal’ I’m still experiencing these symptoms which is a real pain.
I’m also still experiencing quite a lot of fatigue, with regular long lies (thank-you Mrs S) and daytime naps. My consultant reminds me that my body’s been through some brutal experiences and it will be well into 2017 before I can hope to be fully back to ‘normal’ (or whatever passes for normal).
To help my recovery – at least that was Mrs S’s sales pitch to me – we’ve only gone and got ourselves a puppy – my first ever dog. Little Bailey the Sproodle (dad a miniature poodle; mum a springer spaniel) is 11 weeks old and has settled in really well and, yes, I think we’ve hit it off. Still can’t believe I was at a puppy training class last night, though…
The dog is primarily a 40th birthday present for my wonderful wife (her big day’s on Saturday). We’re off out to celebrate that, and my good news, to the excellent Ondine’s seafood restaurant tomorrow night – just hope my taste buds do the food justice!