The weekend in Melbourne was a good one with a few visits from friends and of course my friends from HITH for the on-going chemotherapy.
Friday night’s BBL cricket at Etihad Stadium was a great spectacle, although I thought the half time entertainment was the best part of the evening. Ex Wagga boy Jackson Strong demonstrated his skill with a double backflip on his motorbike onto an inflatable down ramp. See the video!
On Saturday afternoon we enjoyed a catchup with Mike and Fi Rouch, who made it in to Docklands to check out the Volvo Around the World Yacht Race. We enjoyed a quiet G & T.
I developed a rash on my forearms but this did not seem to worry the medical team and popping a few anti-histamines seemed to make a small difference. In any event it did not get much worse.
My brother Tony started his injection regime for the G-CSF (Granulocyte- Colony Stimulating Factor that helps produce extra stem cells for the transplant). This involves two injections a day for the 4 days leading up to transplant. The injections cause the Haemopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) that are found in the bone marrow to ‘over produce’ from his bone marrow and spill into his bloodstream and they will then be harvested from the blood stream via a process called Apheresis (a centrifugal blood cell separation process). Thankfully scraping the marrow out of the bones is not required with this new process!
Tony’s stem cells are needed as the chemotherapy kills off all of my healthy blood producing cells (HPCs). Tony’s healthy HPCs will be transfused into my body to replace the destroyed cells.
I was required to be readmitted to Ward 7B on Sunday night. The Ward manager had me down for room 3 (near the blank wall without garden or sculptures) but in chatting to her we managed to negotiate and upgrade to Room 15 – the old room that I had on my third visit to the hospital. Room 15 is the second best room on the Ward in terms of view and aspect with a lovely view down Elizabeth Street. The nurses told me it had the best view of the Melbourne City fireworks on NYE – the penthouse where I will spend the next 3-4 weeks!
Being New Year’s Eve I managed to negotiate overnight leave from the Ward, given that I was feeling well and had no complications from the chemo so far. This was only granted after waiting an hour or so to see a doctor for a thorough examination.
This was a great relief as it meant I could see out the old year (and happy to have it behind me!) at our apartment and see the spectacular fireworks. It was a special night and although there we no big parties involved Jan and I spent some special time together with a bit of time to plan things for 2018. For me it was simple – one day at a time!
So it was back into Ward 7B early on New Year’s Day to set up my room. Blood tests followed and the normal checks that the nurses go through – temperature, oxygen saturation, pulse and blood pressure.
In a sense it was like returning to an old routine and home with many familiar faces in the nursing staff and doctors. My new Transplant consultant is Jeff Szer who is a legend around this place. Apparently Jeff was the visionary behind the new Peter McCallum Comprehensive Cancer Centre and is highly respected. We had a few jokes prior to discussing my case – although he did acknowledge he knew a fair bit about me from my Blog! How many consultants would take the time to read a patient’s blog?
Today’s chemotherapy is Melphalan – a quite aggressive drug that knocks out all remaining blood cells including those in my bone marrow. There is no going back from here! It almost feels like Trump pressing the N button on North Korea!
I have been given a more intense anti-nausea drug (Aprepitent) as well to cater for the side effects of the Melphalan.
And before, during and after this dose I have to suck on ice to cool down my mouth and gastro internal tract. This has been shown to reduce the level of Mucositis which i will suffer from later in the week.
So far so good!