Wednesday, 29 June 2011

An impossible dream?

Today has been clear, sunny and cool, the torrential rains of yesterday having washed away all stuffiness, and the details of the buildings in the City of London have been shown up in sharp relief—even the dull ones have been able to make some sort of bold declaration.

Inevitably after the info fest of yesterday my mind has been full of thoughts of the side effects and miseries of my forthcoming treatment, although at times I have also been able to call to mind the positive atmosphere in the treatment rooms that I will become much more familiar with soon. Time to meet the demon head on and so at breakfast time and continuing on the train to work I began to read in detail the wealth of printed material provided by the hospital. It does not pull its punches: by the end of the week of chemo due in August mouth soreness and ulcers are to be expected as are infections. The professionals do not think of the forthcoming treatment as a stem cell transplant, so much as “high-dose chemotherapy with stem-cell support”. Healthy stem cells are kept in reserve to build the immune system back up after the drugs have laid waste to my bone marrow. Without the reinfusion of the cells harvested before chemo my immune system would be uselessly minimal for months  and an infection that would otherwise be shrugged off quite lightly could prove fatal. We don’t want that, do we?

Inevitably my performance at work is suffering somewhat as mental effort is diverted, consciously and—have no doubt—unconsciously, to matters medical. If only we could acquire more cerebral RAM to ease us through such times of preoccupation.

I brief Father Milligan on what I now know of the disruption that will be caused to my working life by the stem cell harvest over the next couple of weeks or so. He is very understanding. Once again, I apologise. Time to my next prolonged absence from the office seems to be running out faster than before.

On the train home I dream of a day when the words “cancer” or “lymphoma” will not sneak into my head every few minutes and when I will be able to enter a medical facility without someone drawing blood from my veins. The life-sustaining substance that used to so fascinate as it seeped from a childhood cut or graze and steadily clotted on exposure to the air is now an object of mistrust and suspicion. It looks like the same stuff, but it has turned traitor over the years.

I googled "dream" and this is one of the first pictures that came up.

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