Transplant -2: The difficult bit approaches

Today marks the last day of my cytarabine / etoposide infusions. They’ve not been easy to cope with, but neither have they felt too overwhelming. The main problem with the etoposide infusions is that they’re large – 2 litres over 2 hours, as I’ve had two bags per day. It’s a real faff unplugging the pump each time i need to relieve myself. It unsurprisingly makes me feel bloated, but I’m told by Jane that I’m fortunate not to feel like that every month. She’s right, obviously.

The volume of chemo drops sharply to tomorrow, but it’s the turn of the scary Melphelan to make an appearance. Definitely the difficult bit as far as chemo goes, due to the almost certain side effects.

There’s definitely no turning back from the transplant now. There wasn’t really after I started on chemotherapy back in March, but it’s only recently the enormity of what I’m going through has started to sink in. The transplant is there to rescue you from the effects of the chemo. At the moment, my blood cells, of all types, are being destroyed by it. The Melphelan will also destroy the stem cells in my bone marrow.

Without stem cells, you’re unable to make new blood cells. The result of that happening is inevitable. To stop me from dying, they’ll give me back the 2.8 million cells they harvested from me in July. They’ll make their way into the bone marrow and in a few days time will start producing new blood cells for me. My blood counts will recover. But in the meantime I’m going to be dependent on blood transfusions and intravenous antibiotics, 24 hours a day. If you are a blood donor, thank you for your support.

Hospital life ticks along. They run a well-oiled operation here. It’s very impressive, especially when I cast my professional ‘business process’ eyes over it. The complexity of what they’re doing and the range of patients they do it for is astounding. If someone at a retailer tells me that they have the most complex operations in the country again, I shall furrow my brow, squint my eyes and say “yes, but let me tell you about how the NHS treats Lymphoma patients!”

I promised a photograph of yesterday’s lunch to my instagram followers (tjholyoake). I followed through with that promise, naturally, but in case you were curious and don’t do instagram, here it is. It was delicious, even if Greg and John on MasterShout would have disapproved of the presentation.

NHS Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding

NHS Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, with potatoes, carrots and savoy cabbage. And gravy. Lots of lovely gravy.

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