Thursday 12 December 2013


His body abused, but his mind is still free. Are you so blind that you cannot see?
Free Nelson Mandela - Special AKA

Two trips to hospital this week. The first an "emergency" (see below), and the second for my monthly tests and bone drugs. In all the excitement, I forgot to ask for any of my results, beyond that they are "OK, no different from last month"

It was Gyles' birthday party at the weekend. But I'd been brewing a cold all week and woke up with a temperature of 38C. We agreed I should phone the hospital.

Does this sound overcautious? It does, a little, to me. But... well, I'll spare you the scare stories (you can imagine how they end). I know that my immune system is still compromised. My neutrophil counts are good, but neutrophils are "non-adaptive": they fight generic infection. If I happened to get something my neutrophils couldn't deal with, I would be reliant on my adaptive immune system (the bit that learns and remembers), which is led by lymphocytes. My lymphocyte levels are still very low (myeloma is a disease of lymphocytes).

On top of that, if just so happens that last week I'd certainly been exposed to more infection risk than normal, as I spent half a day digging out a blockage in the pipe to our septic tank (of which, best no more said).

Still, I was reluctant to make the call, because I knew what would follow. And sure enough it did: a trip into hospital, three hours sitting in a ward having blood tests and waiting for results, in which nothing particular showed up, being prescribed antibiotics, and sent home.

One of the nurses managed to alarm me a little further by saying it was good I'd come in now, because at least if anything flared up and I needed to be admitted, I'd probably be home again for Christmas. I'm not sure if that was meant to be reassuring?

Having by now missed the party, I got home and went back to bed. I've learnt this last years that it is usually better to rest when I feel ill, rather than battle on. And sure enough, on Monday morning I felt much better.

Better except for the frustration at missing the party, and the lurking suspicion that I've just had a textbook case of man-flu. It's ridiculous, really, for me to accuse myself of hypochondria, but that's what it feels like. Not that anyone else has accused me of hypochondria, I should clarify. The doctors all took me perfectly seriously. My parents – who had come for Gyles' party – were helpful and sympathetic, and poor Marisa, on whose head it all fell, as ever, got on with everything with the same grit and determination as always. She's had practice, of course, but that can't make it easy. Certainly doesn't make me feel any better about the whole pathetic charade. Even the children take it in their stride – Gyles seemed totally unphased by my absence from his party.

I hate myeloma, in the little things as much as the big things, that it does.