Wednesday 25th October, 2011

Half Way Check-Up- See you in San Francisco

Today is a check-up prior to the fourth dose of chemo, hopefully tomorrow and marks the half way point through the 18 week chemotherapy treatment.

This is becoming a bit of a ritual. First of all, I have to have a blood test. We arrived at the pathology department at 9:30 and had about 30 minutes to wait. This is a bit easier now that I can manage the two flights of stairs from the entrance from the car park directly to the pathology department. The alternative is about a 60m walk to the lifts and a 60m walk back to the pathology department.

We had around an hour to wait before going up to the haematology department and as usual, we waited in Costa coffee.

We didn't rush up to the haematology department, because every appointment we have had to date has been late. Today was the exception. 20 minutes before the appointment time, Dr. Lowndes was looking for me.

The results of my blood test were satisfactory. I continue to be a little anaemic, but not enough to cause concern. Apparently this should mean that I am tired, but I haven't noticed!

I asked about the swelling in my feet and legs. Independently, the doctor noticed that I have put on 8kg (18lb) in 3 weeks. The two are related, I am retaining fluids. My waist measurement has not changed in 3 weeks. I have been given some "water tablets" to address this. I took the first one just after lunch and the effect was dramatic. I had to go to the loo every 10 minutes for about 2 hours, during which time, my feet shrunk noticeably. Last night, I prayed for the swelling in my feet to be resolved. I did not expect an answer to prayer, quite so quickly or in quite such a dramatic way.

Fluid retention can sometimes cause pneumonia or heart failure. So, I was sent for a chest X-Ray and tomorrow morning I have to have an echo-cardiogram to check on my heart, before the next administration of the drugs that may have caused the problem.

Another minor problem I have is an infected toe, closely linked to a toenail that appears to be ingrown. I have a heavy duty dose of an antibiotic to resolve this.

In the scale of things, these are all relatively minor problems. Overall, it looks as if the treatment is going well.

I asked about the longer term. What happens after the sixth cycle of chemo. I will have a CT scan to assess the success of the chemo. The consultant said that she expects that to show that I am in remission, which means that I will just need check-ups every 3 months initially to check whether the lymphoma is returning.

At that stage, I will be handed over to an orthopod to decide what to do about my fractured hip. There is a possibility that I will need surgery to insert pins, but that is unlikely. It is probable that I will need a course of physiotherapy to make sure that I am walking properly and to rebuilt muscles that haven't been used in almost a year.

I asked the 64 dollar question. Will I be able to travel to San Francisco in February for The Open Group meeting? The answer was a very slightly qualified YES. So expect to see Sue and I in San Francisco.

I have a quarter of a million Marriott Reward points, so we are planning to spend a week in Hawaii after The Open Group meeting as part of my rehabilitation. American Airlines seem to be co-operating. Tickets to Hawaii (big island) with a stop over in San Francisco are just $1100 return.

We left the hospital in good spirits. We need a new tumble dryer (I almost said that Sue needs a new tumble dryer). A quick visit to Curry's and on Friday we will have a new dryer delivered. My approach to cut through the selection process was to ask what was wrong with the most expensive one on display. The answer was .. nothing. It condenses (which means we don't need a hose hanging out through the window), it reverses (which seems to be a good thing) senses when washing is dry and has the best energy efficiency.

I managed a few hours work this afternoon.

This evening, Sue and I went to a prayer meeting at St. Mary's. If you wonder why I use every opportunity to remind readers that I am a Christian, it is my duty. We spent some time focussing on the following verse from the book of Colossians in the Bible.

"Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

Paraphrased without some of the jargon that gets in the way of communication, this could be paraphrased as

"Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity (to tell them about Jesus Christ). Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone."