Tuesday 14 December 2010

My body and my blood

It began as it did

What a mixed day I had today and I was left with my mind speaking to my mind seeking comfort from my heart my head settled on my shoulder as I contemplated about what to do next.

Tomorrow seemed such a blur as hour passed hour, the weight of events left me seeking the soporific inactivity of sleep and dreams that would close my mind to the realities I faced.

I got up so early this morning to a major change activity at work; the implementation went so smoothly as each colleague pulled all stops to deal with each eventuality that arose that we were finished just in time to be prepared for my fourth quarterly check with my consultant.

It was supposed to be at most a 2-hour meeting with me being able to return home to the day having taken the equivalent of a long lunch break at least that was what I expected.

Bloody news from the bloods

During the change my treatment consultant called, the bloods were telling stories that needed immediate attention; even she had forgotten I was calling in to see her later today. I needed to make a call, book an appointment and arrange a battery of other blood tests to chase down an infection that had recurred – that was par for the course.

Our lives are documented to certain embarrassing indicators that bloods tell laboratories arriving as corroborated news when readers of those runes tell you why that queer feeling was most exceedingly queer indeed.

I braced myself and completed the change as if nothing had happened, my mind in overdrive but not in panic, my rational mind putting things in perspective, what complex beings we are, I am amazed at the resource a person can have to cope in times that can be so troubling.

Just the way it is

The medical facts I have to face are without sentiment, the medical staff review the charts, discuss their findings, recommend a course of action, however, very little of this medical reality can be the subject of objective discourse with friends, family, acquaintances or colleagues, you obfuscate with generalisations about results, decisions, procedures and complications.

I dressed up, packed a bag of Christmas gifts to my medical consultant, my treatment advisor and the hospital chaplain and rode my bicycle to the hospital with just over 10 minutes to spare.

The initial measurements were taken, weight steady over the last 6 months, blood pressure was fine though if you read up on those numbers they were borderline pre-hypertensive – there is a fight in my system, something keeps it going and it is just as amazing as an everyday miracle that you get up each day to a brand new dawn.

Since we last met

My medical consultant called me in and we exchanged pleasantries with an introduction to another intern, I generally have no qualms to people in medicine gaining knowledge from my medical condition to serve as part of the body of knowledge they would acquire to help others, I guess I could be quite an entertaining patient, never a tense moment, it almost ends up like a social visit as we weave through the medical intricacies spiced with the varied amusements of life in general.

My observations over the last three months were my left foot had become a bit stiffer than the right one, like I was becoming flat-footed; an orthopaedic shoe inlay might be recommended because it affects my gait and sometimes my posture and it can be quite uncomfortable for long walks.

After the serious pains I had just about 6 weeks ago and the opioid pain medication that dealt with the issue, there was quite a large shedding of skin in the area of the original cancer lesions, this was to be expected and that was documented in the medical notes.

The left shoulder had acquired just about a square centimetre of stubbornly dry skin, which was observed and considered indicative of an infection that I would receive treatment for.

We can endure this

The medication was working well for me, I did not need a new set of pills though having never been a recreational drug user the world of that stoned feeling that comes every now and then does not leave one too comfortable but it is all manageable. I am told a new range of pharmaceuticals are coming on stream in the next year all geared to addressing the uncomfortable contra-indications but we will cross that bridge when we get to it.

The tale of the bloods was encouraging, the immunity indicators had improved considerably despite fighting an infection, and the prognosis is that after treatment one would crest that threshold that allows for the prophylactic elements of my medication regime to be withdrawn.

Meanwhile, there was that visit to the laboratory to address the treatment of this niggling infection and I was there on time. Once blood was drawn and swabs taken the historical context of the medical situation made for a whole set of circumstances that left me rather deflated.

Researching the stalemate

There would be no treatment now and I might be facing an invasive procedure that I am not particularly keen on, I need to discuss those options to arrive at some course of action and treatment.

As I got home, I trawled the Internet for research material on these sets of circumstances and all indicators show in my view that the numbers are conclusive enough that the need for an invasive procedure can be refused. I have never had an invasive procedure ever in my life apart from two biopsies, one taken when I was 8 and the other last year which was dermatological with regards to the skin cancer lesions.

I would rather endure the aggressive form of treatment and have the consequent serological tests confirm treatment success or failure but no crazy science and that is my resolution.

With myself by myself

However, I am yet to discuss this all with all the parties but we shall start from a particular perspective, it so happens to be my body; in many ways I have been careless and in others rather careful but having seen and felt what this body has been through and what my mind had had to weigh in terms of options and consequences this is one place where the challenge is on the side of medical science to persuade me of the course and reluctance does not begin to describe my aversion to the popularly accepted but controversial procedure.

That was my day in which I bore gifts, we talked about culture, we exchanged ideas and laughed about doctors who don’t follow the advice that they give their patients or in the words of my consultant, doctors enjoy the fine things of life too, whilst the pastor was having the last rehearsals for the carol service and I found myself being many people to myself just to keep myself together for the challenge that awaits me.

Life is somewhere between easy and complicated, being my own friend, my own confidant and my own advisor means I have created quite a lonely life for myself and here is where I get to talk about it – what an outlet, what a relief, a catharsis indeed.

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