Monday, 20 December 2010

CT results

My appointment with Dr M, the haematologist, at 11.30am on Monday 27 September was for review of my CT scan. You will remember that the arrangements over the appointment for this scan had caused me considerable grief during my stay in hospital the previous week.

The results, when finally delivered to me, were therefore something of an anti-climax, as they revealed nothing unexpected. Why on earth am I playing this down? This was of course the best possible news, as the scan showed no sign of any tumours, but only of the swellings to various parts of my lymphatic system that had been revealed by Doctor M's physical examination at my initial appointment with her on 3 September. It is strange how actually experiencing an illness differs from one's previous imaginings in those little scenarios we all play through in our minds as our brains prepare us for the ups and downs of life. Or is it just my brain that does this? Answers on a postcard, please...

So, for the record, this is what Doctor M reported to me as I looked at the shadowy images on her computer screen: low-volume cervical lymphadenopathy; significant mediastinal  and sub-axillary lymphadenopathy (worse on left); significant para-aortic lymphadenopathy; moderate splenomegaly. In other words, slight swelling of the lymph glands in my neck; more significant swelling under my armpits (worse on the left side); significant swelling of the lymph nodes in my central chest; similar swelling of the nodes in my abdomen near the aorta and on a level with the lumbar vertebrae; moderate enlargement of the spleen.

When I first saw the long words (mediastinal, para-aortic) in a written report some time later, they were more alarming than they appear now. The goal of treatment is of course to destroy the deposits of cells that are causing the swellings and I'm glad to report (breaking through momentarily from blog time into real-time as I dictate this) that the swelling in my neck, present for many years, has gone down. Progress!

Before each consultation it is necessary for me to give several blood samples, which are immediately taken away for cell counts to be measured and discussed with me when I see the doctor about 20 minutes later. I should be getting used to giving blood by now, but the insertion of sharp metal into one's person is always intrusive, if not always painful (some practitioners being better than others, but all of them operating within acceptable limits).

One effect of so much surrender of my vital fluid is that I cannot get worked up about vampire tales and am therefore more than indifferent to the current fad for these. Can somebody please tell me why they are so modish? Vampires as a metaphor for the bankers leeching us of our life savings, perhaps? Probably not: a more obvious explanation is possibly that the current vampire stars are extremely photogenic, even if their cheekbones are improbably sharp and angular. Vampire cheeks, in fact, rather than vampire chic.

Count Orlok, the vampire in Nosferatu (1922), a fine example of, er, German Expressionism.
Whatever. Definitely a host you do not want providing room service.

Béla Lugosi as Dracula (1931).
Rather more of a matinee idol than Orlok.
Squillions of dollars later, the yummy stars of the Twilight franchise.
Vampires so mainstream, they will probably soon be giving their names to jeans, perfumes and all that paraphernalia.

Upon my return home I experienced my most energetic day yet since the stay in hospital and enjoyed doing some work at home, thus helping to keep body and soul together and food on the table.

Here, breaking into real time once again, is a cartoon just seen in The Spectator.
The man in the cap is saying "They're wikileeks".

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