Thursday, 28 October 2010

October 28th 2010

I'm almost at the end of this particular chapter in my life. On Tuesday I see the specialist for hopefully the final (for now) time. he will have had a chance to look at the results of the bone marrow test and the CT scan, together with the blood test that I'll have before I see him.

Based on these results and any trends that can be deduced, he will give me an idea of the kind of remission I can look forward to.

Whatever the outcome, I have to go back to work. I've been relying on the monthly payments from an insurance policy to pay the mortgage, and they only pay out up to a maximum of twelve months and I received the last payment this month. I checked and I can work for a maximum of 15 hours and 59 minutes a week before I lose my Employment and Support Allowance, and I can earn up to about £95 per week. However, that benefit runs out in a few weeks and I'll have a monster booklet of a form to fill in, then have to undergo an examination by a "doctor" whose job it is to weed out bogus applicants. So it's just so much hassle.

I'm lucky in that I can go back to my old job, initially at 3 days a week. Obviously my wage will be cut by 40%, but that's still better than I can get from the government. I'd rather be working than sitting around vegetating, although I'm not sure if I'm physically up to it yet. There's only one way to find out.

So I'm going in to work next Wednesday, all being well.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Tests completed

I had my bone marrow test done last Wednesday. Although I had to book in at 8.30 I wasn't operated on until well after 10.00. I'd not had anything to eat since the night before, and nothing to drink except a sip of water with my drugs, and boy, was my stomach rumbling!
Eventually I was called down to the day theatre where I lay on a bed and presented my backside to the world. I had a local anaesthetic and chatted to the nurses while the doctor poked and prodded my back, looking for a suitably bony place to dig. Once she was satisfied that she had the best spot, she took the sample. I have no idea how it's done, or how much marrow is taken, as I was concentrating on charming the nurses with my witty repartee. It felt much like when you get a dead leg, or bruised buttock. Not particularly painful, but not pleasant either. A bit like root canal work at the dentist really.

Once it was complete, I was wheeled back into the ward, where they took my blood pressure and temperature and brought me a cup of tea and a biscuit. After a few minutes I felt well enough to have a refill of tea, and after another set blood pressure/temp measurements, was given the all clear to be collected.
I had a large padded plaster on my back, and was told to keep it dry for a couple of days. As the day wore on, any pain I felt eased, and I forgot all about the plaster until I was having a shower a couple of days later. It came off quite easily and there's hardly a mark on my skin to show what had happened.

The next day (Thursday) I had a CT Scan. I've had a couple of these and they're quite straight forward. The most uncomfortable part is having the canella fitted for the injection. They scanned my abdomen from my upper chest to my groin area, and I was passed through the scanner on a moving bed/table. I had my arms above my head and had to hold my breath as the scan was made. They inject you with some dye that helps them identify the blood vessels or organs and the injection causes some strange effects. Firstly, you get a strange metallic taste in your mouth as the injection goes into your veins, followed soon after by a warm feeling in your groin area that feels as if you've wet yourself. Very strange.
The scan took but a few seconds and then I had to wait for 15-20 minutes before they removed the canella from my arm.

My appointment with the specialist isn't for a month. This will allow all the bone marrow results to come trough. Certain tests take a few weeks to come through, hence the delay. I'll have a blood test on the morning of my appointment, and then the specialist will be able to ascertain where I am in my recovery, and how much remission I can expect. The last time I saw him he was confident that judging by my results so far, I can look forward to a good remission (whatever that means).

The other news is a bit more worrying. I have been able to claim on my insurance for critical illness, and the monthly payments have been invaluable in keeping our mortgage payments and other bills up to date. However, they only pay out for a maximum of twelve months and this next payment will be the final one.

So I have to consider returning to work in the near future.