Friday, 31 May 2013

Straight To The Point

Just thought that you would like to know that the clot that was in my heart has now gone and my heart is healthy again! Thank God!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

The Shadows

Today I find myself at the pinnacle of confusion. If I were to describe my last week in one word it would be ambiguous. Blurred would suffice too, I have had this feeling lingering in me, over me and around me; I am unable to pin it down. I can't really describe it; the closest description would be a deep pit of melancholic quality that confuses and clouds judgment; a fog, perhaps. Irritable. Unsettled. Scared. Everything inside me is telling me to run, but this prison is an impenetrable fortress. I find myself thinking about what life could have been, wanting what life could have been. I lose myself in thoughts of a kinder life, a fairy tale if you will. But fairy tale endings don't exist. Is there an eject button? To be honest, I would settle for a skip button. I have come to far to turn back but the path that lies ahead holds unspeakable horrors. Why must I travel forward? Surely there must be another way. I have entered the wilderness where dreams die and nightmares prevail. It is like I have suddenly awoke to find myself lost. In some way, I guess this was inevitable. At some point, my fears would catch up with me and I would be faced with two choices, destroy or be destroyed. But I am not ready. I am not strong enough to fight this fight. 

Others marvel at my positivity and outlook, but the truth is bleak. The truth is that my light is fading. I feel a small part of me die day by day. I have masked it thus far; now it has surfaced. Yet, I shall not yield to this soul destroying monster. But, I am fighting an invisible enemy. I can not tell you for sure what has awoken this monster; there has been no defining event, no sudden attack. It lives in the shadows. It's nature unknown but its effects powerful. 

The key to fighting an enemy is to know its weakness. It would transpire, that in order to take a shadow captive, the weapon of choice is Light. Shine light on a shadow and not only does the shadow disappear, but culprit is exposed; more often than not, it is exposed as a miniturette, a fraction of the size of its shadow. What is my shadow? I can only offer a suggestion. I think my shadow goes by the name of Responsibility. But not the responsibility that is rightly mine, but the responsibility that I have imposed on myself. Being a patient has been a huge challenge for me. All my interactions and roles have been blurred and my boundaries have been breached. I am in an environment where I am constantly switching between roles of patient, colleague, friend, counsellor, motivator and empathiser. It is this that has been secretly siphoning away my livelihood. I don't know why but I feel responsible for the people that I interact with. I feel like I have a duty of care to them in whatever shape or form that it may take. There is something deep inside of me that passionately compels me to be a friend to the friendless, to laugh when they life and cry when they cry, be it with a patient, friend or colleague. 

The truth is that this is not my responsibility, but it is my heart. The effects on my own well being would be completely different if I wasn't a patient. This is something that I forget, or maybe ignore. I hate being a patient because for me, it has connotations of being a victim and of being useless. There is a deep seated drive inside of me that urges me to always be useful, to always fight, fight even to death. The role of patient is in complete contradiction to who my mentality says I am. But I am wrong. Every soldier needs time off the battlefield to be ministered to, to recover from the wounds sustained. Whether I am currently on the battlefield or in the army hospital is debatable. But one thing is for sure, there are times
when I need to be sure that I have taken myself off the battlefield and allow myself to recover be it physically or emotionally.

The lesson has been learned and the shadow has been taken captive. The Enemy has been defeated; all it took was a little Light.

Monday, 27 May 2013


People. They come in all shapes and sizes; a funny breed wouldn't you agree? But what is really interesting about this species is their personality. The age old argument of nurture vs nature is still relevant. But maybe the choices that are made, either for us or by us, shape personality; maybe who we are is a reflection of our choices. 

People watching is a fun past time of mine. Sitting by a window in a coffee shop and watching people going about their life interests me. What are they thinking? How are they feeling? Where are they going? It is possible to tell a lot about a person without even speaking to them, but it is when you converse with them that you find out if you were actually right. 

Being a patient in hospital can reveal much about, not only yourself, but others too. People from all walks of life, without exception, come through these doors every day. As an inpatient, it is a privilege, and a debatable
blessing, to be able to meet so many people. We all have different stories, we have all made different choices that has led us to this point were our lives will intersect for a little while. One phrase that is thrown about here is just be true to who you are. An interesting concept but unfortunately not incredibly helpful. For example, if who you are is confused and broken, should you then live your life being true to that? The truth is, we are all, myself included, are confused and broken. As I listened to the painful stories that made up a life, it dawned on me that there is no difference between the person talking to me and myself. But for some reason, we are on very different trajectories.

I think that this is a result of one single choice. It is a choice that was made that changed the direction of my life. There is no other reason why my life has not ended up like most of the stories I have heard apart from this one choice. I chose to let someone else make the choices for me. But not just anyone. I chose someone who will make the right choice every time; someone who always, without fail, will do what is best for me, even if it means enduring hardship for a little while. His name is Jesus and He is God. It is only now, when I look back at the journey I have travelled can I see where He has intervened and where He has made course correction adjustments. It is a hard thing to do, give up the driving seat, and it's always painful at the time; but I know I will never make another choice because I know God and I trust him which is more than I can say for myself.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Which Way To Go

Most of you will know that I have been wrestling with the decision regarding the bone marrow transplant. I have now made that decision. In light of my odds improving due to the cancer being in full remission, I have decided to go ahead with it. The whole process still scares me and the complications are very real and daunting, but sometimes, when the facts are confusing and the future unknown, you just need to go with your gut instinct. All I can do now is trust that God has prepared me for what lies ahead and will take me through it. What’s next? Well, they are still looking for a definite match; they have a potential match but they need to do further testing to confirm it as a definite match. If all things go according to plan it is likely that I will begin the transplant process in mid July.

But at least that’s that. However, there is another decision to be made, one that came out of the blue. I was told recently that there might be a way to preserve my fertility through egg harvesting. They process would take about two weeks. They would stimulate my ovaries with hormones so that it will produce about ten eggs. Just before they ovary is about to release the eggs, a needle will be inserted and the eggs will be collected. The eggs will then go through a freezing process and kept until they were needed. Later on, when I decided that I wanted to get pregnant, those eggs would be thawed and fertilised using IVF. The fertilised egg would then be placed back into my womb with the hope that it will implant into the uterine wall and continue on to full term.

Sounds good so far. Erm, not quite. The success rate for one egg going through this entire process and becoming a baby at the end of it is two percent. Since they take ten eggs, the total chance of success is twenty per cent. For me that was a deal breaker. I am not overly keen on IVF in any case, mainly because of the emotional price you pay when going through it, so case closed...or so I thought. Even though I would not opt for IVF now, how do I know I won't change my mind later down the line? How do I make a decision about a child that belongs not only to me but to somebody else when he is not there? Regardless of how I feel about IVF, the question still remains. Do I go for egg harvesting in the event that I change my mind later on?

As with any procedure there are risks associated with the egg harvesting procedure. If I were to have it done it would need to happen at the end of this cycle of chemotherapy and before the bone marrow transplant. But to be honest, my main concern is putting my body through unnecessary strain before a very harrowing procedure such as the bone marrow transplant. But am I being short sighted, selfish even? I don't think so, but how can I be sure? Later on down the line, if I look back at this choice and regret it, I need to be able to justify to myself why I made the decision that I did.

I'm not going to go for egg harvesting. There is only so much medical intervention my body can take. If I was starting off from a one hundred percent healthy position, then the outcome of my thoughts may have led to a very different ending. But the thing is, I love the concept of adoption and God has granted me peace with no regret. A child is a child and whether you love that child or not is governed by a choice, not genetics. Love, isn't
 that funny feeling in your stomach, nor is its purpose to make you feel better. What then is love? Love is patient in the face of stubbornness and kind when provoked. Love does not hold wrongdoings against you. Love is humble and rejoices when others succeed. Love is gladly serving those who hate you. Love is a protector of the truth and a warrior against the snares of destruction. Despite the bleak circumstances and in the face of adversity, love always protects, it always trusts, it always hopes, it always perseveres and above all, it never fails.

Love is a choice. The default emotion in any one of these situation would be anything but love. If this is what love is, then it sounds impossible to do. True. But there is one who has done it. There is one who has been in all these situations yet still chooses love. His name is Jesus and He is God. He is the one who enables us to love in the way that He loves us. I have been adopted and am loved by the King. It is because of this that I will choose to love whichever child that may be entrusted to my care in whatever way because love never fails.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Chapter Three

Or maybe I should entitle this post "Chemo On The Rocks". Can't quite decide. The start of this cycle brought me crashing down to earth from my happy cloud of denial with a snap crackle and pop. Allow me to explain. I came back into to hospital, after a wonderful two and a half week break, on Thursday 16th May. I had my Hickman line put in that day, and I have to say that out of all the line procedures I've had done, that one was definitely, pardon the pun if you will, a cut above the rest. But the success of that was to be short lived. I started chemotherapy the next day, fully expecting it to go smoothly, without properly preparing myself for what was to come. In my mind, I was still in holiday mode. Alas! The sound of shattered dreams was all that remained. I had a reaction to the chemotherapy which was similar to the encephalitis I had back in cycle one. The symptoms were more or less the same although the intensity was thankfully significantly less. Needless to say I was quite ill and not a happy bunny. On top of that, they are also treating me for an infection. They are not entirely sure what it is, or if indeed I do have one, but my body seems to be responding to the treatment. I've had some time to recover, so I'm more of a happy bunny but still not a bouncy one.

I haven't had another dose of chemotherapy since Friday, but they have decided to restart the whole regime  again tomorrow at a lower dose. I really hope my body can tolerate it this time; if not me and the docs will be having some words! As always, will keep you posted!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Turning Point

Could it be? Have I spoke too soon? Could this really be the turning point? Well, to be honest, I think that it is a mini turning point or maybe it is the equivalent to turning in deep thick mud as oppose to smooth ice. So. Some good news and some bad news. Let start with the bad news first shall we. There is something wrong with my eye. The docs think there is some sort of inflammatory process going on. It's not really affecting my vision, so that's good. The silver lining to this episode is that they want to let my eye settle down before starting anymore treatment which means I will definitely have this coming week off out of hospital and may even have the week after that - in total, I'm guaranteed to have two weeks off but may have three. 

And now for the good news. In my lasts posts I was talking about how the cancer is in remission in terms of when you look at it under the microscope but not in remission when you analyse my DNA. I had the results of my bone marrow biopsy today and it shows that I'm in total remission in both categories! I can't tell you how relieved I am to here that. I sort of still can't believe it, part of me worries that they have got the wrong patient! So this changes everything. It changes how I view the decision on the bone marrow transplant. I am now leaning more towards having the transplant; I know I will be accepting all sorts of horrible risks, but at least the risk of me dying has significantly dropped.

So there we have it. A turning point.