Hospital – 16 April 2007

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I don’t recommend bone marrow biopsies for routine amusement.

I’ve been in hospital since Friday 13 April, because I spiked a temperature of 39 degrees. I went first to the Rosebud Hospital Emergency department, because that’s where the duty haematology registrar from Peter Mac suggested I go, as a matter of urgency, to get a ‘septic work-up’. A septic work-up consists of blood cultures, urine cultures, stool cultures, and any other sorts of cultures take the fancy of the nursing or medical staff you encounter. So, I got there, the triage nurse was duly impressed by my story (though no-one there knew what mantle cell lymphoma was, unsurprisingly), and I got put straight into a bed in the emergency department. Whilst there I was looked after well, but it was clear that they were uncomfortable about managing me. So I got transferred to Peter Mac. I got there at midnight, with a slight detour – the patient transfer people got confused, and took me to Monash Medical Centre first. I had to tell them they had me in the wrong place, they checked with their despatch people, and agreed that, yes, I should be at Peter Mac in East Melbourne. So here I duly came.

I had IV antibiotics – piperacillin – for a day and a half, then changed to oral antibiotics (Augmentin Forte). And I had the lacklustre hospital food, followed by the hospital boredom. I listened to podcasts of The Religion Report, The Health Report, and The Science Show, then Brave New World. Thank goodness for iPods! I dozed. I received IV fluids. I had another two units of red blood cells, and another unit of platelets (I was still anaemic and thrombocytopenic). And I mused that I could as easily have been doing all of this at the Rosebud Hospital. Never mind.

This morning it turns out that it is likely that I didn’t have an infection (which is the danger when your neutrophil count is very low, like mine was), or if I did, it was some sort of not terribly dangerous viral upper respiratory infection, as I had a runny nose. My neutrophil count is on the way back up, which is nice.

I had a bone marrow biopsy this morning – this time I opted for a local anaesthetic and no sedation. As I said, I don’t recommend bone marrow biopsies for routine amusement. I was supposed to have a new PICC inserted today, but that has been delayed because my next chemotherapy cycle (2A) has been delayed. I’m still to have a dose of rituximab on Wednesday, but I won’t have cycle 2A until next week. I’m not sure of the reason for that. I should have asked. My treating consultant, David Ritchie, has been around today, but the rounds haven’t happened yet. Anyway, I am going home. It will be nice to sleep in my own bed for a few days. And eat food I want to eat. My appetite is so easily disturbed right now. If something puts me off eating, then I don’t want to eat. I’ve lost 3kg in a week.

I feel bad about the amount of disturbance and emotional pain that this rollercoaster (and it is only a gentle rollercoaster so far) is having on Peter and my parents especially. I try to minimise the impact as much as I can, but its hard on them. Everyone is doing so much to make my life more comfortable and pleasant, and I really appreciate it. I wonder what I can give back – what I do give back. I know I need express my thankfulness and appreciation much more effectively. I fear eroding the goodwill of others. In a way that is an unrealistic fear, because the goodwill is, in most cases, an expression of love and therefore not dependent on caprice. God expresses his love for me through the actions of these people. His love, care and compassion – and the way I accept those determines how I accept the gift of God.

I was musing about healing on Saturday and Sunday. I realise well that although I’m going through a healing of the body, there is a real need for me to have accept healing of the soul, of the spirit. There is much pain and disorder there needing to be healed. Some of this happens through prayer and meditation. Some of it happens through the love of others. Some of it happens through the exploration, with God, of the sources of pain and disorder, some of which is rooted in history – things that have happened.

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