AHSCT & work

Two different topics, but inter-related …

I am an engineer, it’s what I’ve always done and it’s part of my identity, working in the oil & gas industry. I can’t imagine working as anything else, and have been privileged to work in a variety of locations.

Going into refineries, plants and offshore is the chance to see the office based work I do become real, and meet the people who do the real hard work.

I love the lights at night, dancing on the sea below
Yoga on the helideck at sunset, why wouldn’t you ?

These photographs taken from the helideck of the North Rankin B platform, a project I worked on from design through to Operations. Actually sitting up here was a culmination of years of work, and was the last time I flew offshore.

I am still working, however I can see a time when my ability will become more and more limited. Now there are no more offshore trips, and walking around site is becoming harder. Being a mechanical engineer is part of my identity, and I am lucky to have a job that I enjoy, with people I enjoy working with. I cannot image not working in my profession, and that ability is now being impacted.


So, AHSCT.

Autologous haemapoitic stem cell transfer. I am sure I have spelled at least one of those words incorrectly ! I will add more links to my blog, and would refer anyone interested to read the very technical detail there. I am an engineer so this is well beyond my understanding and to truly understand would require a medical degree.

To summarise, the treatment is

  • Stem cell stimulation, to mobilise my stem cells from my bone marrow into my blood stream
  • Stem cell collection and freezing
  • Chemotherapy ( and that’s the scary part) to nearly kill off my immune system
  • Stem cell transfer, so the stem cells can help re-boot my immune system
  • Isolation for at least a week, as my immune system will be incredibly fragile
  • A number of months convalescing and undergoing a pile of physical training and therapy

The aim of this treatment is to halt the MS, as my reset immune system will stop attacking the myelin sheath which causes the degradation of nerve signal transmission. There’s mixed views of symptomatic improvement, the people I have spoken to who have had this treatment claim great improvements even without active lesions. My neurologist says no, but he’s not positive about this procedure despite the very real evidence of it working. I will gratefully take any improvement I get, but if I can halt the progression of this disease I am a winner.

This image shows the damaged nerve lining, called the myelin sheath. This is what’s happening now, and scars remain from previous damage. HAs I stated, I’ll take a stop to this, thanks.


The connection with work … this costs money. So my improved ability to work, in an area which I do love ( albeit very frustrating at times), will help me pay off the treatment and, well, maintain a really important part of my identity. Part of who I am is ‘mechanical engineer’ and the thought of losing that part of me is devastating.

In this, a brief comment about my employer, Woodside. They are supporting me fully and for that I am so grateful.

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