Bouncing Back

Gieco - Solo le Pido a Dios

I have largely bounced back from the chemo. Side effects gone, energy levels back up, and no sickness from my current low immunity. I feel the contrast in conference calls comparing Monday to Friday; although I  feel my lower haemoglobin count in my regular – and getting longer – walks. Every time I go through the bounce back phase, I feel a sense of wonder of both the body’s ability to recover as well as the acquired knowledge of my medical team that calibrates so closely how much my body can take without crossing the line.

Emotionally, the bounce back also helps. While worries remain, feeling well enough to be able to go for walks, work part-time remotely, and ‘potter around’ the house make a big difference. And am coming to terms with the implications for my professional life; getting to the neutral zone from dwelling on the endings related to having a leadership position, with the profile and satisfaction that entails, to some yet undefined more low-key role.

A somewhat funny, if frustrating clinic visit Friday. As part of the Surrender/Control duality, I try to control what I can, and surrender to what I cannot. Part of control is knowledge and I had dutifully, following chats with the haematologist during my stay at the hospital, reviewed some of the web sites he had suggested on allogeneic stem cell transplants. The result was that I was well prepared with a question list and a table to help me understand the various steps, risks, outcomes (the polite term for survival rates!), and side effects.

However, the clinician said this is premature – we will walk you through all of this once we have a donor. A fair amount of bobbing and weaving as I continued to try to get more clarity (in the backdrop of the election campaign, seemed kind of funny to be playing this game with a doctor and not a politician). Ultimately, however, did get a fair amount of clarity on:

  • Treatment aims at providing me with a new immune system that is less susceptible to mantle cell lymphoma, rather than wiping out completely any traces of my existing lymphoma (a nuance which I need to understand better)
  • I will only have a reduced intensity conditioning regimes in contrast to the high intensity regime. While all is relative – and I need to get a better sense of how this compares to my conditioning regime last time – lower intensity sounds a lot better than high intensity
  • In order for the transplant to work, my lymphoma needs to be stable. This may require some ‘salvage’ chemo given the origin chemo was not as effective as it should have been. Will get all the requisite scans etc over the next few weeks to decide what kind of chemo may be necessary.

I also pressed on timelines – both for me and my family to plan around, as well as my colleagues at work. Essentially, should one of my brothers be a match, transplant could take place as soon as 6-8 weeks, if not, could take an additional 4-8 weeks to arrange. We did not discuss the ‘if no donor’ scenario – again the layers of an onion approach to imparting information.

So all in all, still a fair amount of uncertainty but enough general clarification that I can help ensure as smooth a transition at work as possible, while finding a week off to sneak away with my wife before this next stage begins.

As I have been working part-time this week, less time for fun reading. Amazing how work gets in the way! I am half-way through Ian McEwan’s Atonement, a wonderfully written and crafted novel (the movie adaptation is also good).

Fewer movies as we are back into the school routine. However, we have seen one more Elizabeth Taylor movie (Butterfield 8, overly Hollywood and conventional),  Made in Dagenham, the formulaic feel good, but based upon a true story, of the struggle in England for equal pay for equal work, and Inside Job, the documentary on the 2008 economic meltdown and banking sector (which complements an earlier reading, John Cassidy’s, How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities, which provides a good overview of the history of economic thought and the development of the range of financial instruments and deregulation decisions and their consequences).


4 thoughts on “Bouncing Back

  1. Andrew,
    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I always feel that writing is very cathartic and am encouraging my husband (who has MCL) to do the same. I hope that he will.

    Jane Davis

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