Wednesday, 10 February 2010

I gave them my "Rehabilitation's just a word" speech, and told them "just to go ahead and stamp their form" but stopped short of calling them "sonny".

As the day wore on yesterday rumour was in the air that I was on my way out. First the pharmacist popped in to see what drugs I already had at home so that they would not have to give me a completely new batch when I left. Then the nurse that runs the day room where I had my Chemotherapy popped in to say what good news it was that I was going, but still at that point my doctors had not said that I was going home.

My release had been rumoured over the previous few days but there had been nothing confirmed and sometimes hospital administration can move pretty slowly so I was not going to get my hopes up. Having spent just over a week running endless tests on my blood whilst filling me with antibiotics the medical team working with me had succeeded in removing all of the symptoms that I had come in with but, much to their disappointment, had failed to isolate the cause.

I am pretty sure that, determined as they are, if they could they would have kept me forever until they finally, finally, put a name to what ever it is that was in me. HCL patients quite commonly get fevers and infections post-Chemo that often go undiscovered and I am pretty certain my team would like to have been able to say they had found what was eating me and maybe point the way for future investigations. This time though it was not to be.

Although I have been allowed out, I am not in the clear just yet.

Physically I feel fine although I have become far to used to frequent napping and need to wean myself off of that particular luxury. I do not ache and I can breathe normally. There is however a 'marker' in blood tests that can show whether the body is succumbing to infection. CRP or C-reactive Protein is made in the liver and its level in the blood rises in response to inflammation mainly at the site of infection. The normal level for CRP is "up to 10" my level is currently 116.

The argument is then that there is still a significant source of infection in me and there is a strong possibility that, now I am off of the intravenous antibiotics and bumming around at home, it will slowly cause me to exhibit more symptoms to the point where I have to readmit myself to hospital. At which time they will culture everything and begin treatment once they have put a name to my pain.

There is the more optimistic possibility that my CRP will continue to drop. That no infection will rear its ugly head, and that given a week or so I will feel more confident that I am not going to relapse and I'll start looking forward to things rather than dreaming of blood tests, hospital food, and cannulas in my arm.

I need this infection not to happen again as time is now very tight. Fourteen days from today I am going to be a father and I would dearly like to be welcoming my offspring into the world as a normal human being rather than a fellow inpatient.

We cannot have all three of us in hospital pj's at the same time. That would just look silly. Although if it happens I will post a photo.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

I should have written sooner. Much sooner. To leave my ongoing tale with a full body CT scan looming on the horizon and then not utter a word since is pretty bad form. It is not that there have been so many crises to deal with or that there has been news that has been simply to bad to bare. If I am honest with you I have been doing an inordinate amount of sleeping and although my fever has begun to dwindle one of the times it does flare up is the same time of night I prefer to write and of the two activities laying in bed and burning up always wins through.

The scan went ahead on Monday and my early hopes that I would not have to drink that terrible liquid again were soon dashed as two bottles of the stuff were brought to my room one for immediate use and one for a few hours time. Having scoffed as much food as possible before my 'nil by mouth' deadline I was eventually wheeled down to Radiology and having been parked in a draughty doorway for a while was led into the big room and passed through a large whirling hoop a few times before being wheeled back up to by room.

It is worth pointing out at this juncture that I have not lost the power of my legs but, when in hospital, you must be wheeled everywhere. Its the law. If necessary they may even force you to place a blanket over your knees for good measure.

I have had CT scans before but was still highly nervous about the results of this one. There is that fear that, in looking for the source of infection in such detail, that they'll find something unrelated but staggeringly serious that may have ordinarily gone unnoticed. The results came late in the day on Tuesday and, thankfully, there were no tumours or failing organs. There were also no signs of lost car keys or old coins. My spleen, it is to be noted, has shrunk back to its pre-leukaemia size, it is now a mere eleven centimetres and it is estimated that I have lost three kilograms in body weight because of it.

There was no sign of the source of any infection but as this week has progressed my anti-biotics have been changed to one that got me out of here last time. Early on in the week a number of times in the day and night I would have what I call an 'episode': A feeling of sudden coldness and utterly uncontrollable shakes. Climbing under as many blankets as I could muster over an hour or so I would warm up and the shakes would stop only to be replaced with an intense heat. My skin would be physically hot to the touch and exhaling would be like breathing in a desert. Throughout the whole thing my head would throb, not as a headache. No real pain. Just a pressure. A seemingly endless pressure. This would also last at least an hour and I would remain under my blankets throughout until I felt I could emerge into the world again.

As the week has gone on, particularly under my new drugs, things have slowly improved. I still get measurable temperature spikes, which are highly annoying and blights on my otherwise good 'obs' charts, but the symptoms of my episodes are now far, far reduced. I can still feel them coming on but the effect now doesn't get much further than "oo its a bit cold in here" for half an hour before an hour or so of "oo its quite warm, I'll have to open the window." The head throb is not as harsh or long lasting which has meant I have started listening to more music now. Something I was really missing but just did not have the inclination to do.

I would like to have been out of here by the weekend but it is clear that that is not going to happen. Even if I had a symptomless day tomorrow they would still want to keep me in for the weekend but there are rumours that they may let me go outside between drugs which could open the door to the prospect of real food. If not then I am seriously considering the various methods I may need to employ to get a Chinese takeaway delivered from my favourite oriental eatery in Richmond.

Having dreams is the only way to get by in here. Even if they will never come true.