Ward off Evil

Hello all. Many thanks for all your kind support and
concern. So Monday turned out okay and its business as
usual in Phase III, my last blast starting on Monday
28th February. It’s a high-dose methotrexate (that yellow
stuff in the “Singin’ in the Rain” vid). It
is some powerful stuff, the procedure is, basically:

1) 12 hours of fluids in preparation. (These fluids,
like every other drip, are put into my Hickman line.
This is a plastic line (in iPod-white) that has been
surgically planted in a vein to allow painless removal/insertion
of various fluids).

2) 24 hours of the chemo.

3) Uninterrupted fluid to flush out the chemo. During
this time every urine ‘offering’ is tested for pH level
to check that I am not becoming too acidic from the chemo.
Blood tests are taken daily until it is clear that I
have flushed all the chemo out of my body. This usually
takes 2-4 days, but I managed to break some kind of record
by clearing it in 24 hours (apparently I have Olympic
kidneys)!

And that will be my last few days at Charing Cross Hospital
– my home for the past 3 months. Despite being the scene
of much discomfort and some pain, I will take from it
mainly a positive experience and am rather saddened to
leave. Apart from the very, very occasional ‘bad egg’,
the level of care and support of the NHS doctors and
nurses has been simply excellent. What I saw was a lot
of hard-working and dedicated staff doing excellent work
in very difficult and under-resourced circumstances.
There are so many to whom I owe my gratitude. My thanks,
in particular, to the following fine people working at
Charing Cross:

Dr. Donald McDonald

Dr. Mamta Sohal

Dr. Philip Beer

Dr. Natalie Phillips

And the caring nurses of 6 South (Missy, Margaret, Jo,
Vicky, Maribel, Maria, Anne-Marie, “Rainbow” and
all the others my silly head cannot at present remember).

I owe you my life.

The Biggie

So it’s off to Hammersmith Hospital for the Bone Marrow
Transplant. As far as I understand it, it works something
like this:

My bone marrow had decided to create leukaemic cells.
My past 3 months involved destroying these leukaemic
cells to suppress their relapse and to give a window
of opportunity to perform the bone marrow transplant.
The bone marrow transplant means I will adopt an immunity
system that won’t create cancerous cells.

So, we blitz my immune system (through some very heavy
chemotherapy and radiotherapy – leaving me hairless and
I imagine completely frazzled). This is done so my body
doesn’t attack the grafted (new) immunity system. In
the meantime they extract “stem cells” from
my sister, Alex.

Stem cells are produced in the bone marrow and go on
to develop into blood cells (white blood cells, platelets
and red blood cells). While my immunity is suppressed,
I receive a load of my sister’s stem cells. These stem
cells then find their way to my bone marrow and hopefully
start building my new immunity system. The danger at
this point is “graft vs. host” – the new immunity
system may recognize my body as “foreign” and
start attacking it. (The implications range from okay
to not-good-at-all).

If all goes well the process will be 3-6 months long.
(That’s some process…) I know that the procedure is
risky and potentially fatal, but for some reason, I am
not scared. I will be documenting the whole experience
in words and video, so stay tuned…

Love & Music,

Milton

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