The trip to the Marsden on Tuesday wasn’t really much use, to be honest, as they hadn’t managed to receive all the information they needed, and as I hadn’t seen Dr Dalley at that point I didn’t know anything about what dates he was planning for my autograft… I’ll be having radiotherapy at the Marsden as part of the autograft (that and high dose chemotherapy will knock out my bone marrow completely), so a doctor took the opportunity to tell me all about it and let me know the potential side effects. In the short term the effects are much the same as for chemo (nausea, diarrhoea, hair loss etc), though in the long term there are some novel things that can go wrong.
If I were ever to sit down and list (or even think about) everything that could have gone wrong or could go wrong, I would just be overwhelmed… So once again I’ll just take it as it comes, and get through each bit at a time.
Yesterday I saw Dr Dalley (the transplant consultant at St George’s) and now know a lot more about the autograft. He was brilliant: calm, pragmatic, clear in his explanations and friendly. In short, this is the plan from now:
- Monday 6th March: Blood tests so that Laura (the transplant nurse at St G’s) can do virology tests. Also probably a chest x-ray and ECG (cardiogram to check my heart’s ok)
- Friday 10th (?): Final dose of methotrexate, and all that jazz.
- 10th-20th: Growth hormones (GCSF?) to encourage my stem cells to grow more than normal.
- 20th or 21st: Stem cell harvest (line in each arm, or perhaps elsewhere; blood comes out, gets spun in a machine, which takes out the stem cells; blood gets returned to me – thank you very much Mr machine). Then home?
- A few weeks later (?): To St George’s, then to Marsden for radiotherapy (either one load, or fractionated into 8 loads spread over 4 days), back to St G’s for chemotherapy. Dangerous time as I have no bone marrow at all and am at serious risk of infection and bleeding.
- 2/3 days after chemotherapy: Stem cells dripped back into my bloodstream.
- 2 weeks later: Stem cells reach bone marrow and my immune system will hopefully start being able to fight infections etc again.
- Another 2/3 weeks later: Home, as long as all has gone smoothly…
- Possibly a bit more chemotherapy.
- Another few months later: Back to something like full strength.
Dr Dalley explained everything, so if I’ve forgotten something or you wondered how part of it works, do ask me and if I don’t know I’ll try to find out. Everything has to be done at its precise time (though as you see I don’t know exactly when some of those precise times are), but it’s looking as though there’s a good chance I’ll be out for Tomandalice’s April Fool’s wedding; unfortunately Easter and Graduation are looking much less likely.
Anyway, must go – Harriet and I have started the first season of ’24’ – we’ve only reached midday so far and it’s far too addictive. We started the day before yesterday… who ever claimed I never do anything useful?