Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Harvest and Disappointment

This morning my brother came by, freshly back from Brittany and bearing gifts: windfalls of walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts and apples; organic beer from the Lancelot brewery; cider; chocolate.

We looked at photos he had taken of the recent trip and discussed things achieved and things needing to be done at the house, including the installation of a window. We will get together again tomorrow to compile our application for planning permission.

Come the afternoon and it was time for another first since my recent treatment: a trip up to London on public transport. Journeys there and back passed off smoothly and without incident, although at the moment bounding up escalators is beyond me. The purpose in hand was my regular follow-up appointment at the hospital, preceded inevitably by a blood test.

To an accompaniment of Robbie Williams proclaiming in song for the umpteenth time that an unspecified female offers him protection the phlebotomist inserted a needle in the soft inside of my left elbow and drew off two vials of the red stuff. Within five minutes a printout of the basic blood counts was in my hand to take with me when I saw the doctor one floor down.

I was sorry to note that my haemoglobin was low, at 9.2 (around about the level it had been when I was diagnosed just over a year ago). That explains why I am not ascending stairs or walking anywhere with any great gusto at the moment: my system is shorter of oxygen than is ideal. Until the time came to see the doctor I defused my anxiety by burying myself in my current read, in which Cicero has just secured incontrovertible evidence of the conspiracy by the psychopathic Catilina to overthrow the Roman republic (which would have spilled lots of the red stuff).

The doctor was reassuring about the low haemoglobin, saying that levels of this vital substance can “bump around a bit” in the aftermath of a stem cell transplant and associated ghastly chemo. Nevertheless he has arranged for a further blood test to be carried out by my GP in a couple of weeks and for me to return to the hospital in a month.

Back on the train and in a subdued mood I rejoined Cicero and his chums.

Not an explosion in a Curly-Wurly factory but a representation of the haemoglobin molecule.
Iron is needed to synthesise this. Nuts (see above) are a good source of iron, so the nutcrackers could be getting red hot over the coming weeks.

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