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Posts tagged ‘multiple myeloma’

The transplant

Last week Father In Law had his stem cell transplant. He was admitted to hospital on Wednesday, battered with chemo on Thursday, and had the transplant Friday.

One of the things we have struggled with is the contradictory information issuing from a range of specialists. Coming up to the SCT, we could not get an accurate impression of what was involved. The first estimate had Brian in hospital for a couple of weeks; then we were told it would be four to six. There were dire pronouncements of Brian’s response to the transplant: according to his oncologist, he would be unconscious for a week and allowed two visitors a day under strictly controlled conditions.

As soon as we arrived back from South Island, we called into the Bone Marrow Unit at Auckland Hospital. Brian had a pic line installed pre-transplant and was in positive form. In the BMU pantry we met a patient two days out of his SCT. Although he looked grey, he was up wheeling his IV around and fixing himself a milkshake, which was rather comforting.

We saw Brian just before and after his transplant – the procedure itself all went to plan. The preparatory blast of chemo strips the lining of the mouth, so we were warned he could get pretty miserable. On Friday he had a sore throat and that was the start of it.

The next few days were terrible. We called in to see him on the Saturday and he was in severe discomfort, exhausted and nauseous.

“D’you think you’ll survive?” I said and Brian was good enough to manage a weak chuckle – or he might have been gagging.

“Don’t you think that was a bit tactless?” asked Husband later.

“I’m not the one who went on about the fish and chips we had for dinner last night.”

We had been told to expect this, but it was still a tense and anxious time for everyone. When we visited the BMU on the fourth day after the transplant, we knew Brian was fighting his way up when he talked about the features of his I-Phone for ten minutes.

I have never been so thrilled to listen to geek speak

“Think I can touch my forehead!”

Father In Law is in good form – at the moment he’s in Sydney at the Formula 1 racing. Prior to harvesting his stem cells, he underwent a three-day dose of savage chemo. He subsequently lost his hair, which was a bit of a shock; it is easy to forget how sick he is. 

He might have retained some, except that he liked to demonstrate his accelerating hair loss to visitors by ripping it out at the roots: 

“Aw yeh, all falling out – look! Make a jumper out of that.” 

He has a ruptured disk in his lower back, but at one stage when his drug regime made him impervious to pain, he would high-kick around the kitchen. 

“Haven’t been able to do this for years!” 

“You know, Brian,” I said one morning, “just because you CAN – mind the light – doesn’t necessarily mean you SHOULD.” 

“Think I can touch my forehead! Ungh!” 

The other day he went for a routine heart and lung check. With both apparently in spanking condition, he doubled the smoking and drinking and tortures Rosina: “I’m in great shape! You should have the old bellows checked out – might have to give up the fags, old girl.”

Father In Law

Father In Law is doing really well and is obviously thrilled to have Husband home. He is on some fairly wicked drugs (please note: no connection between the drugs and Brian’s joy at seeing his son again). Rosina calls him ‘Extreme Brian’ when he’s wacked out on the happy pills – he has been known to go out and feck rocks at the neighbours at 03:00 hrs.

After some false starts, his stem cells were harvested last week and the actual transplant operation/procedure should take place sometime next month

Just hyperventilating

Although we had agreed to leave the Middle East at the end of 2007, realistically we were looking at January, possibly February 2008. When I was in Ireland, Husband rang me one night to give me a pep talk on stress management:

“Niamhie, I know we said the end of the year, but does it matter whether it’s January or February, or even March? Or April?”

“Husband. We’re leaving in December.”

“Yes, but what I’m saying is, you’re going to get all worked up – you know, when things aren’t happening fast enough – and you should relax – take a chill pill! I mean, we know we’re leaving, so it doesn’t matter if the date slips a month or several. Does it?”

“You know what I’m stressed about right now? That my husband obviously does not know me AT ALL.”


“Just hyperventilating.”

“You should breathe more.”

Shortly after Husband’s father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, we booked one-way flights to Auckland, departing Dubai on 24 December.

Originally, we planned to sell the Springs villa before the end of 2007. However, in early November the resale market was sluggish and we decided to rent the property.

The Tenants were the first people to view the house. Mr and Mrs Tenant were almost more anal than I am, so inevitably I fell instantly in love. When they were noncommittal, it was all I could do to stop myself dropping to my knees and begging them to move in rent-free.

Later the same day, Mr Tenant called and offered to take the house and asked for first option to buy. The deal felt profoundly karmic: The Tenants were being kicked out of their furnished villa on 20/12, which was the precise date Husband and I had agreed the house should be ready for occupancy. Then they bought our BBQ, fridge, oven, washing machine, wireless router and Husband’s motorbike.

The least I could do was invite them around for a barbeque. Mr and Mrs Tenant turned up accessorised with three children. The only tense moment was after the meal, when Mrs Tenant came into the kitchen to help load the dishwasher.

“You’re not one of those people who washes things before they put them in the dishwasher, are you?” she said.

“What, me?” I said. “NO! GOD no. Do people actually DO THAT? You’re joking. Scary to think there are nutsos like that roaming around in the world. Unsupervised. Must be a real worry when you have kids, is it?”

But later it was hard not to feel resentful as I washed and reloaded the dishes.

Shortly after signing the tenancy contract, with habitually spectacularly impeccable timing, Eid was announced to fall three days before The Tenants moved in on 20/12. As landlords, we were required to paint and clean the house, but we only had one day between the shippers and the Eid holiday. We realised we were going to have to clean the house ourselves.

On 15/12 Husband and I had painters falling over us as we conducted a final sort through our stuff. Husband didn’t take it well and there were Words. At least I didn’t have to go to the trouble of bursting into tears; at that stage I was crying pretty much permanently. On Sunday the shippers came and I wept through the entire ordeal. On Monday I finalised everything with The Tenants, closed our phone and Internet account with Du, went to DEWA (water and electricity) for our final bill, organised New Zealand dollars, picked up Husband’s motorbike engine from KTM, and picked up Husband from work.

As I drove him home, Husband told me he would have to work over some of Eid. Again, I didn’t throw a wobbler so much as simply ramp up the bawling to full-blown panic attack.

“You’re going to lee-hee-heave me with all the clea-hee-heaning!”

“Baby! Of course I won’t,” said Husband solicitously.

Instead, while I spent Tuesday and Wednesday scrubbing the house down, Husband fixed his motorbike in the back garden. It had been broken for six weeks. I’m telling you, THAT will feature in future arguments 🙂

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