Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Spinal Tap

Headache, headache, headache. That's why I haven't been blogging in the past week. The Lumber Puncture I had (needle in spine to see if any Leukeamia is present) gave me raging headaches. I think they used to call them Spinal Taps so to paraphrase the great Nigel Tuffnel "this pain goes up to 11". Thankfully I'm over it now and in hospital for the biggy. I've had two days of chemo with one more to go tomorrow. Followed by a day of rest then four days of radiation. I'm feeling okay apart from the times they give me pre-meds for the anti-fungal drugs. It's like being slapped in the face with a large wet fish. You suddenly find yourself half way between being asleep and wide awake - drowsy is possibly the word I'm looking for...horrrible sensation is two others.

Anyway, I've had the pleasure of lovely sis Tracey for the past six days so a nice distraction from all the medical stuff. She was kind enough to bring me 500 PG Tips tea bags, 24 bags of Walkers crisps and enough chocolate to make Augustus Gloop a happy chappy, all craftily smuggled in her underwear - remarkable. Unfortunately, the opium, asian ladies and packet of Hoola Hoops were difficult to obtain at such short notice. Such is life.

A big thank you to the lovely Shelley for the supply of books ('when in Market Harborough visit Waterstone's for the best of books and things' - I knew I should have gone into advertising) and Kate for the lovely gift of a UFO American tour t.shirt and band autographs; which the fiendish Mark Cole has placed on ebay for my fund!

Current Reading: 'Any Human Heart' by William Boyd (thanks to Shelley of Market Harborough, England)
Current Listening: 'Talkie Walkie' by AIR (thanks to BenoƮt Dunckel and Nicolas Godin of Paris, France)
Currently Eating: Fry's Peppermint Cream (thanks to the Simpson's of Corby, England)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ready to go

Just had a meeting with the doctors and they seem very happy. They say I am in a very good position to go ahead with the transplant. There is no indication of any Leukaemia in the biopsy results, which is very suprising. I thought there would be a least a small percentage of nasty blasts lurking around. They did admit that the chemo I had is a new drug so expect the unexpected. It does make you wonder though if other patients had further unneccesary chemo because of early biopsy results indicating an unlikely remission. It looks like they will already change the protocol for this drug which is good news for future patients. I don't wish the last two weeks on anyone.

Good news also from the recent CT scan. The infections have halved in size again, so by the time I get to conditioning (probably around the 30th) hopefully the combination of my neutrophils and strong drugs would have put paid to the infection. Out foul infection out!

Further good news: I have at last finished John Le Carre's 'The Constant Gardener'. What a brilliant writer. Methinks I will have to watch the film adaption again. Though I don't think I can take Ralph Fiennes quite so seriously nowdays after his joining of the' mile high club'. A certain respect certainly (those toilets even in business class are telephone booth size) but the odd schoolboy snigger may have to be suppressed.

Off for a cup of PG Tips and to listen to the pop music of my youth. While eagerly awaiting tonight's episode of 'The Colbert Report' as Canadian rock gods Rush 'from the socialist north' (injoke for viewers of the show) are performing on US TV for the first time in 30 years. Go Geddy Go!

Current Reading: 'The Sparrow' by Mary Doria Russell
Current Listening: 'Upsy Daisy Assortment' by XTC
Currently Eating: Plain Chocolate Digestive Biscuits

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Now what was it I had that was important to remember...Oh yeah! I'm in...


Received the news from my doctor today; who was as suprised as I was! Meet with the docs tomorrow to discuss what happens next. Hopefully things will get moving pretty quickly. Both the cords need to be ordered (one from New York, the other from Australia) and expanded in the lab. In the meantime I will have chemo and radiotherapy as conditioning treatment leading up to the infusion. I imagine this will all start at the end of the month.

Time for a cup of PG tips to celebrate. And then a Guiness!

Normal Bone Marrow Slide

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Another week....Another bone Marrow Biopsy

Another week another bone marrow biopsy. The results are getting more positive with each marrow. I am still above the required range to proceed with transplant (have to be within 5% range; I'm at 5-10%) but as the results are more encouraging they want to go ahead with another biopsy on Monday morning. They also forgot one important part of the biopsy (flow results) so there is an element of making up for that faux pas (French reference - more of this later). As you can imagine I just want to get on with it. You can only sit around for so long drinking tea - can't you? Actually I'm quite happy sitting around drinking tea (found PG Tips the other day - yes indeed!) especially when I can watch a show as brilliant as 'The Wire'. I'm getting withdrawl symptoms from the last episode yesterday. 'The Wire' shines like a beacon in a sea of mediocrity. Thank you again HBO television!

Another CT scan on Tuesday to see how the old fungal infection is doing. My cough has gone so it must have improved somewhat. Blood tests are only twice a week now - that saves us $500 a week. As we are self-paying the doctors are very conscious of saving us money. Even the meetings with the docs are only once a week now.

Not much else to report. Sam and I went to the Seattle Centre today to a Bastille Day celebration. Didn't see anyone wearing a beret, striped shirt, string of onions and riding a bike combination; so quite a disapointment really. It all seemed very americanised french (apologies to any French readers out there; that must be akin to saying de Gaulle was a surrender monkey with a big nose and anglo-saxon parentage). Yes, it was a bit crap. Unlike Hawthorn at the weekend who at last demolished some of their demons against Sydney. Well done Alastair and the boys. Great result (always good to beat Sydney at something).

Current Reading: 'The Constant Gardener' by John Le Carre (nearly finished it - honest!)
Current Listening: '10,000 Days' by Tool
Currently Eating: KitKat (goes extremely well with a cup of PG Tips)

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of July

First day without Jack. We are really missing him. We have just spoken to him on the phone and he is back home in Melbourne safe and sound. The fussy devil didn't eat a thing on the plane. I wouldn't be here now if I had been so fussy as a child; I'd probably be 6ft under in my parents backyard.

Anyway, back to the issues of the day. The day being the celebration of the victory of a war where we beat ourselves. I feel I must offer "Happy 4th of July" greetings to any readers this side of the pond. You were fortunate to escape the rule of a monarch (he was German by the way) who was as mad as a bag of badgers (some would say things haven't changed - I couldn't possibly comment). Looking forward to the fireworks from the roof this evening. All I can say is it had better be good as we'll be missing Seinfeld and Larry David's writing is particularly good at this moment in the series.

I had yet another CT scan on Wednesday and it shows things are the same which the doctors are happy with. I'd be happier if things were improving on the scan - but as my cough has almost gone and I can get on the exercise bike again I can't be too bad (he says as he clutches his chest while falling to the floor).

The bone marrow biopsy has been put back to Tuesday as the holiday means results will be delayed anyway. I've put in a request for the lovely Grace to do the procedure. She has the featherlight touch while poking the lower back with large needles.

We managed to do a few things with Jack before he left. We took him to the Baseball on Monday night. Seattle were playing the Toronto Blue Jays and - unlike the basketball - he was very unimpressed. While I enjoyed it, the low score (3-0 to Toronto) did make things a tad unexciting. The highlight for me was when everyone around me stood up to sing "Take me out to the ball game". This was one of the most surreal things I ever witnessed. I felt like I was suddenly in bizarro world! I took Jack to the Seattle Art Museum on Wednesday. He really enjoyed the more modern works on display. His favourite being 'Mouse on Bed'. Basically a giant black mouse on a white mannequin in a white bed. Nice to see a work of art - cough - appealing to its target audience (the under 10s). It was actually a very good mixture of contemporary and classic works (Warhol, Van Dyck) plus some impressive Native American, African and Aboriginal galleries. Jack was quite insightful into the work of Jackson Pollack "It's a load of squiggles Dad". Brilliant.

RIP Charles Wheeler. A truly great journalist and humanitarian.

Current Reading: 'The Constant Gardener' by John Le Carre (still trying to finish it)
Current Listening: 'Viva La Vida' by Coldplay (stop laughing - Brian Eno has got a really good album out of them).
Currently Eating: KitKat