So it’s day +10 and like every drip of saline, the days are slowly trickling by. My neutrophil count has been zero for about eight days now, and unable to leave the ward, I can certainly feel cabin fever coming on. This treatment is testing my patience to every inch of my being. I am hoping that white blood cells, born from Megan’s stem cells, will pop up in my bloodstream soon. But for now it is just another excruciating waiting game. I should just thank my lucky stars that I am feeling pretty good at this stage, but as the nurses say "you are either sick or bored". I'm bored.
For now, I am working towards three goals:
1. Get out of hospital (hopefully within the next week)
2. Get a clear PET scan (in about a month and a half)
3. Get to day +100 with few problems (90 days from now)
So, from a strictly medical point of view, I’m doing pretty well. I started to feel really under the weather at about day +8, when my throat pain increased and I felt weary and drowsy. That night, of the day Obama won his second term of the American presidency, I spiked a temperature. About 90% of patients undergoing my treatment end up with a temperature, so this was no surprise. Additionally a skin infection has flared up on my right cheek, so at the moment I look rather monstrous. I have been on IV antibiotics for this for several days, and it looks like it is being kept under control.
This is much harder than my autograft, simply because things take longer. I was discharged on day +11 of my autograft, and I will no doubt still be here with a zero neutrophil count on day +11 of my allograft. I haven’t even breathed fresh air for coming on two weeks now. There is every chance I could make it to day +20 without my counts increasing, so I have to be patient.
For now I am feeling OK. My throat pain has waned a little bit and they haven’t had to put me on any IV feeding aids, so I’m kicking goals in that department. I can still manage walks around the ward, and still have quite a bit of energy for someone who’s been through the wringer. Got to be positive signs.
As some of you may have noticed, I have resorted to drawing motivational drawings on the whiteboard to keep me going. The box of letters, a gift from my friends from high school, has also helped me remain positive amid the day-to-day gloom. I’ve committed to reading one a day and the photos and cards have put a smile on my face, as well as brightening up an otherwise drab hospital room. Most of all they have helped me maintain a positive outlook – even the notes and cards from people I’ve had little to do with over the past 13 years (showing my age now) – it means a lot that they wanted to drop in a note to wish me well. I still have a few to go – but thanks everybody who contributed, it was such a thoughtful gift.
Another thing that’s given me a bit of a lift is the completion of Jim Stynes’ book, My Journey. Such an amazing and inspirational story; what a man, to face such adversity with such positivity and courage. There is so much I want to quote from this book, but I’ll save that for another time. I recommend this book to anyone, but especially to those who have had experiences with cancer – there will be so much to relate to, and I think it’s a wonderful thing to know you’re not alone. That’s what Jimmy wanted to achieve by going so public with his journey, and I am thankful.
What else? I won $150 by picking a winner (Green Moon) on the Melbourne Cup, which I watched from the comfort of my hospital room. That and Obama’s win, have given me a boost. These are good omens, they just have to be.