Somehow we’ve reached Day -2 in my treatment plan, so my stem cell transplant is taking place very soon indeed. I’ve got through five days of Fludarabine without much to complain about – and was even allowed out to continue my and Mariacristina’s efforts to eat as much good food as possible in the shortest amount of time possible.
Doctor’s orders, of course: it’s good for me to put on weight pre-transplant, as I’m likely to lose a lot of it afterwards, when my appetite will be all over the place. My growing belly hasn’t gone unnoticed by the nurses either, one of whom suggests I now look more like my brother (it would be rude to say which one).
The time out of hospital over the weekend was glorious in itself, but even more so because it was unexpected. Apart from being neutropaenic when I was admitted, I also had to contend with four doses of defibrotide a day, each keeping me tied to the drip stand for two hours, as well as a shorter infusion of Fludarabine. However, a couple of jabs of the growth hormone G-CSF pushed my neutrophils up, while careful management of IV timings left a window on Saturday and Sunday afternoons for me to escape.
I may have only been in hospital a few days, but upon arriving in Streatham (where else would anyone want to go in such a situation?) I was amazed by the smells, the sounds and the colours. I suppose that even before being admitted, I was avoiding busy places and big crowds, but above all I think it was the contrast between the (relative) calm of my hospital room and the vivacity of Streatham High Road. It felt like being in a cartoon – my senses were super-powered and everything I saw or smelt seemed exaggerated. I loved it.
I also loved revisiting our favourite Italian restaurants in London, which by lucky chance both happen to be in Streatham: Bravi Ragazzi and Addommé – it was no doubt our visit to the latter that prompted a visit from the Italian ambassador later that day, eager to tread in the footsteps of such connoisseurs. We also saw our lovely ex-lodgers Matteo and Zuzana for a delightful coffee, and they gave us an umbrella – happy days!
So that was bonus time out of the hospital before facing the big guns today and tomorrow – melphalan and campath – and the infusion of the new stem cells on Wednesday. I’ve just been given a huge bag of saline to flush my system before receiving the melphalan; as a result I’ve been dashing regularly to the loo…
It feels as though now we’re really getting started, after finishing the relatively tolerable Fludarabine and moving onto the hard-hitters. And it’s only two days until the actual transplant – a big moment if ever there was one.
Here we go!