Thursday… Good news!

Yesterday saw me getting the train up to Kings College Hospital for my four monthly haematology check up. This was the second time I have been to Kings since the Bone Marrow Transplant unit co-located there. There was a little more organisation, although blood samples (a regular armful!) are taken elsewhere in the hospital first.

I saw Dr Kazmi, the consultant, and we had a long chat. He confirmed that the after five years in remission, although there is always some risk of relapse, the statistcs take a sharp turn in my favour! He confirmed that my blood counts were good, and although my immunoglobulin levels are still slightly low, they are not that far outside the normal ranges. There were no physical abnormalities, so I am now on annual check-ups! We had a chat about the GvHd, and how good the ECP treatment was in improving my quality of life.

Good news! Next check up is at the eye clinic when I need to discuss getting my cataract operation done.

I have an old friend, Melinda, who is a consultant at King’s, so we were able to meet up for lunch (thank you!) before hand, and catch up on things, and I also saw one of the nurses (Debbie) who looked after me during my various stays on Samaritan ward at Guy’s! Small world!

I got home safely, ready go to sub-aqua club, when I received an e-mail about my dissertation result. Not completely good news as I didn’t quite get the required marks, but not a complete failure as I can revise and re-submit. I am waiting for a list of things that I need to address for the re-submission. A bit disappointing, as it means I won’t graduate until next year, but not a total disaster.

So onwards and upwards! (even though I am going diving this weekend!) 🙂

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Friday… The last ECP?

Lausanne1It is about time I wrote a longer blog, and I did promise some photos from my trip to Lausanne. I did wonder if I was going to be able to go at one point – two days before departure I walked into the living room at home, and noticed a damp carpet. Closer inspection showed the central heating radiator had sprung a leak.Lausanne5

Fortunately I was able to find a replacement next day (when the plumbers’ merchants opened after Christmas) and with some help from Mark, mananged to remove the old one, and fit the new, which although a different make, lined up with the pipework, so the job only took about 90 minutes. Better still, the carpet seems to have dried without any lasting stains.Lausanne2

So I did get away and the picture here on the top left shows one of me taken on the hills just above Lake Geneva, just before going off to Loèche-les-Bains. The second photo above shows the steam coming off the outside bath! For obvious reasons there are no photographs from the inside looking out!

Lausanne4This photo (above) shows the sun setting on the mountain tops around Loèche-les-Bains. And the next day, a cable car, shown here took us to the mountain tops, well, at least the lower levels. Very picturesque and there are, as usual, more photographs in the gallery. The top cable car station was also the terminus for another cable car, of a slightly different type, but again with the spectacular backdrop of the Swiss Alps.

Lausanne6After the two days in the Alps, the remainder of the time was spent sight seeing round Lausanne. I certainly felt very well and very refreshed after my trip! The final photo (below) shows Loèche-les-Bains from the cable car during the descent.

At the moment I am sitting in Gassiot House at St Thomas’s Hospital having just completed the first ECP session, with the second tomorrow morning. Will it be the last? Well, there are certainly no more appointments booked, although I am being called for review in March, which will be in eight weeks time, to see how I am getting on. If the skin GvHd does return I can have more treatment but the hope is that it has stabilised.Lausanne8

My next haematology check-up in the haematology clinic (the ‘Late Effects’ clinic) is next week, when I will be reviewed to see how the side effects of the transplant (primarily the GvHd) are affecting me. One thing that has become apparent is that the minor side effects are attracting far more attention than perhaps they did before – things like the dry mouth, and the dry eyes, – which although important, tended to be overlooked against the backdrop of the lymphoma.

This January is the fifth anniversary of the blog, the stem cell transplant was on January 19th 2006, and it is four years since I was rushed to Southampton, and during my stay there, Olivia was born on January 15th. This morning I took her to pre-school! So lots to be thankful for – especially my anonymous donor.

And 2011 has certainly got off to a good start – may it continue ‘Onwards and Upwards’!

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Thursday… Winter bites!

Winter SceneI suppose we are no worse off (and probably better) than most of the country, but this was the scene that greeted us this morning. (and more pictures in the Gallery).

It seems to have been a long time since the last entry, longer than I normally leave it, but quite a lot going on. No sign yet of another contract, but feelers are still out there. I have been up to London for my penultimate ECP session, which went as uneventfully as usual, with the last one scheduled for January 2011. January 2011 – seems just round the corner!

I have also had a really bad cold for the last few days. I always get at least one really nasty one a year (since the transplant – but small price to pay!) but I think I picked this one up from Livvy.

OliviaI have been on (play) school pick up duty a couple of times, bringing her back here, cooking her some tea (Scrambledy eggs!) and looking after her until Vikki can pick her up. It feels really odd hanging round with other parents – a real travel back in time! And it has been a while since I posted a photo of Livvy here – quite a change – she is nearly 4, born if you recall, when I was having a couple of health snagettes in Southampton General.

And with Christmas round the corner, it will soon be time to get out the decorations, and decorate the blog in its traditional festive manner! Watch this space.

So all ticking along – may things continue Onwards and Upwards!

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Saturday… Lots of catching up!

Phew, where to start? It has been a couple of weeks since I last “blogged” so there is quite a bit of catching up to do!

The biggest adventure was a 12 day trip out to France with friend Mark, to his house for a working party. We drove over on Monday the fourth via Brittany Ferries. It is a longer crossing than the catamaran (not running since it had a close encounter with a buoy in the harbour at Le Havre!) So we were delighted to find another piece of French motorway had been completed, giving continuous motorway to within about 10 miles of the house. Not counting stops, we completed the journey in just under six hours.

CarIt was a working week so we had trips to the various ‘bricolages’ for wood and components to add a new window to one external wall, change an external door for a more modern one, remove a fireplace and move an internal wall. For some of the work, a neighbour of Mark’s (in France – Ben, a Dutchman) came and assisted, while I did other necessary jobs like mowing the lawns, making coffee, preparing food and so on.

We made good progress getting the window installed, and almost completing the one door, and moving an interior stud partition wall before we flew back, leaving Mark’s car at the airport.

houseIt wasn’t all work, we did go out for a meal or two, and Mark’s wife flew out for the weekend. I did little local exploring in the woods nearby. All went well until the last bit where I lost my bearings, and rounding a corner in a field, came face to face with a ‘Limousin’ cow. I beat a quick retreat, climbed up a bank – and found myself in Mark’s back garden – I had just walked round the house and not seen it!Lintels

After I arrived back on Friday 15th, we had a visit from Martin and Stephanie, friends from University. We met up at Beaulieu, and went out for a meal (thank you Martin!) with a trip to the apple fair at “The Vyne” National Trust House near Basingstoke. They left on Sunday morning, and on Monday I was off to London for a postponed ECP session.

apple_fairThat went smoothly as expected and I was home on Tuesday evening. I did have an appointment at the eye clinic, and my eyes are much better, so I am now using less aggressive eye drops – but still not able to wear contact lenses 🙁

I had a slight “wing mirror” encounter on Friday night, just clipping it as I passed another car on a narrow bridge. This popped the glass out, but it was retained by the heating element wires, so I thought it would click back in. Alas no, there was a part that had dropped out, and when I went to buy the replacement part, I was told I had to buy a complete motor assembly. Ouch! I ordered that on Wednesday and collected it on Thursday, and fitted it that morning. You don’t realise how much you use the external mirrors until one is missing.

TrafalgarThursday saw me driving up to Corsham for a dinner to celebrate the glorious victory of Admiral Lord Nelson at Trafalgar. An excellent evening with many old friends present. On Friday I drove up to see my parents.

However on the way I stopped off to see the people at LeukaemiaCARE. I haven’t done very much with them lately, but I am going back to help on the 24 hour careline, so it was good to drop in and catch up with some new faces and (Meg!) And discuss “stuff” :). So a hello to Tony, Dawn, Nikki, Veronica, Tricia, Meg, Mike, Steve and Becks. And see you all again soon I hope.

HailSo I am at my parents having a break- the weather was lovely this morning – we have just had a hailstorm! I had been hoping to go back to France with Mark on Monday, but last week I was approached by an agency with a possible contract offer. MY CV has been submitted, and interviews are this week. I don’t know if I will be called for interview, but it is worth waiting to see. It will be for about 40 days of work, which will be useful!

I have lots of photos as well – only a sample here – which will be on the Gallery when I have uploaded them.

So on all fronts – Onwards and Upwards!

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Thursday… post ECP

A busy bank holiday weekend! I was at a BBQ organised by someone from the Dive Club on Sunday (thank you Dave) an excellent afternoon, finished with a round of croquet).

On Monday I went up to Corsham to start clearing out my flat. I have moved most of the things, but I’ll be going up next week to finish moving out, clean it and hand over the keys. However on the way back I stopped at one of my old work colleagues just in time for a BBQ – thank you Gareth!

Yesterday it was up to St Thomas’s for another ECP session which was successfully completed today. This may possibly be one of the last as I was reviewed by a dermatologist and it has been decided that I will have two more sessions at the six weekly intervals, and then stop for three months with a review next March (3 months on) to see how I am getting on. Another small step in “getting my life back!”, Next week I have a haematolgy review and then I shall be going up to Corsham to finish clearing out the flat.

And on that note, I sent my details off to a diving medicine specialist and had medical approval to go SCUBA diving again – another small step! So this winter I think I shall be doing some refresher training in the pool and I hope get back into the water next year!

Onwards and upwards (although not in a diving sense! 🙂 )

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Thursday… Chilly June!

Pity about the weather – too good to last! ECP went well, although the early Sunday morning start meant that I had to travel up on Saturday evening for two nights in Gassiot Hpouse at St Thomas’s. Not too bad although the street noise on a Saturday is pretty bad, and of couirse I lost an evening at home! But we did clean up BBQ for a bit of al fresco cooking! The ECP itself was uneventful, and on completion I nipped downstairs to the eye clinic.

The considered opinion is that I don’t have conjunctivitis in the infectious sense, but I am suffereing from mechanical abrasion caused by the dry eyes, another GvHd symptom. I have upped the artificial tear regime, and I also got a prescription for another artificial tear – eyelube which, I’m told, “stings a bit”. I’ll find out tomorrow when I collect the prescription from my GP, but the more frequent use of the artificial ears has helped. I have another appointment with my optician tomorro, so we’ll find out if there has been an improvement.

I was at a trade exhibition yesterday looking at shiny web applications – which was interesting, and back in the office today, and back home again tomorrow afternoon.

And I need to find a dentist. I seem to have lost a filling – but finding one is not easy :(.

Still – Onwards and upwards!

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Monday… it’s damp!

It is a stereotypical damp Monday morning here in Corsham, which is a bit of a let down after the lovely weather of last week. I went home on Thursday night, ready for my trip up to London for the ECP on Friday and Saturday. The ECP was uneventful, although I left it a little late leaving for the station, fortunately the train was 10 minutes late!

The journey back on Saturday was longer than normal, with part of the journey (between Basingstoke and Eastleigh) completed by bus. Still, all done and dusted for another six weeks or so, although there are some other check-ups in May.

And that really is it. We went out for a drink with Sue and Mark on Saturday evening, and I came back to Corsham last night.

So – Onwards and Upwards!

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Tuesday… plans change

I should have been getting ready to catch the train up to London for my two days of ECP. However I had a ‘phone call from the day centre yesterday afternoon to say that one of the machines had developed a fault, and wouldn’t be repaired in time for me to get my treatement. The centre is pretty heavily booked, but it now runs seven days a week, so I am having the first session on Friday afternoon, staying up overnight (as usual), and having the second session on Saturday morning. It really works better for me as it saves a journey to and from Corsham, although it is a pity to lose a Saturday at home. Still, can’t be helped.

The only thing missing is my laptop! I left it at home on Sunday night as I was expecting to be travelling back yesterday, so this is being written from work.

Still, the sun is shining, so on that note – Onwards and Upwards!

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Friday… Oops!

I was sitting happily at my desk yesterday afternoon, when the ‘phone rang… “Hello, this is St Thomas’s Dermatology Day Centre – did you know you had an appointment for ECP this afternoon?”. It appears that my dates of 29th and 30th were at variance with their booking system! (I take the blame). After some discussion, we have re-scheduled it for the only blank spot they had, whioch is next Tuesday and Wednesday, and that nearly didn’t happen because of lack of accomodation. Slightly embarrassing!

Funny too, because in the last few days, I have noticed my shoulders getting stiff, and one or two minor skin signs that I was due a treatment session.

Tomorrow is the Wedding Fair – the fourth year Felicity has organised the event – which promises to be bigger and better than the previous ones – and if the fine weather continues (Iceland permitting) it should be a good day.

So as I have things to get ready for it, I had better finish here – Onwards and Upwards!

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Thursday… more ECP

I’m writing this from my little room in Gassiot House, the hostel for patients staying for consecutive days of treatment – and it is a bit warmer than I have known it in the past! So this afternoon was the first of the two sessions of the ECP – and as usual, it passed uneventfully. The second session is tomorrow morning, so I hope that will go uneventfully too.

My cold seems to be getting better, and I don’t feel quite as breathless as I did. I still have a bit of a cough, but nowhere near as bad as it was.

I had a good week last week, with the final push to complete the coursework. Once I had got into the correct mindset’ it seemed to flow well – and the program (or – to be strictly accurate – script) ran as I hoped it would and did what was required of it. The weekend was spent writing up the reports on the design, and it was submitted electronically on Sunday, with the hard copy in the post on Monday!

So with spring round the corner, and the clocks going forward in two weeks, very much a case of “Onwards and Upwards”!

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