I can’t really put any relevant photographs in this post, so I thought I’d show what I just had for lunch …
Jalapeño hummus on toast, tomatoes, olives, salt & vinegar crisps and an apple … soon to be followed by a black coffee. I am not looking forward to the rather bland hospital food !
The first week is going to be very separate to the remainder of my time in Russia. I’ll be a tourist for the first few days, doing cruises and wandering around the buildings and markets of central Moscow. Even when I go into the hospital on Monday, the first few days are tests with time to spare to explore. If the tests show any problems with your ability to handle the treatment, you get a full refund and sent home. That would be heartbreaking, but is the only safe path.
Then I’ll move into to stem cell stimulation, where I’ll be injected with various drugs which will get my bone marrow overproducing stem cells to a level where they will migrate into my blood stream. This will be about 2-3 days. Once that’s complete, the stem cells will be harvested and frozen, this is about another two days. At this point, I think the process will seem a lot more real, and I will have moved decisively into Phase 2 of the trip.
My coffee, you can tell I’m suffering here sitting in the garden.
Now I move into four days of chemo, where the immune system is ablated, a medical term meaning neutralised ( I think, that’s how I imagine it). This is where my hair falls out, and the reactive parts of my immune system are killed off.
Once my immune system is neutralised, the stem cells are defrosted and reinjected. Anecdotally this is one of the hardest times, although the reinjection is only 10-12 minutes, because of the preservative used to keep the blood fresh it feels as if you can’t breathe. I think there will be a time for me to focus and breath as much calmness as possible.
Then the move to Phase 3, where I go into isolation while my stem cells help my immune system reboot, and start building the required cells again. In a weird way I’m looking forward to 7-10 days of reading, sleeping, crocheting, watching movies … very peaceful. My blood tests will be daily, and monitored, release is only when the doctors are confident that I’ll be able to handle the journey back home.
Then I come home to the roller coaster of recovery and rehab.
My garden, which I’ll be very happy to see again.