Sunday, June 29, 2008

Blood and Ottawa

On Wednesday it was noted that my hemoglobins were a bit low, so on Thursday I had to get two blood transfusions (my 25th and 26th, for those keeping count; my 37th and 38th overall). As I've mentioned before, the whole procedure is actually quite boring. This one was more so because (a) the clinic was completely full, and (b) there had been a mix-up with my cross-match, which meant it had to be looked for, determined to be missing, and then redone. Even though I got there at the respectable hour of 9:00 a.m., I didn't leave until 5:00 p.m.—a new record.

The time was passed by reading two Invincible trade paperbacks, watching two episodes each of Battlestar Galactica and How I Met Your Mother, reading a few articles in Interactions (an Association for Computing Machinery publication on human-computer interaction, or HCI), and listening to a Studio 360 podcast. Oh, and napping as best as I could.

It really is a lot of effort to do nothing all day. I went home and ended up falling asleep early.

Anyway, earlier in the week we loaded up the car with all of my immediate family (except my sister, who was at work) and drove down to Ottawa to consult with transplant specialists to get more information and decide which way to go in terms of my transplant. My original thinking had been to undergo a fourth chemotherapy treatment that would use different drugs in the hope that it just might put me into remission, as bone marrow transplants have a better chance of success if the patient is remission.

However, after speaking at length with the doctor, it seems that this isn't the best way to go. It's felt that these chemo drugs won't have a great chance of getting me into remission, a sentiment shared by several of the hematologists at the hospital (including my doctor) and myself. I already knew that, but was willing to go for the long shot. The specialist's experience, however, suggests that it would be better to get the transplant while I'm in the best shape possible—that is, as healthy as can be aside from the leukemia—rather than ravage my insides in the hopes of getting into remission.

What it comes down to is that any choice I make is a risky one; I just had to choose which path is, in the long run, the least risky. After thinking about it for a little while, I decided to go for the transplant as soon as possible, without being in remission. We haven't sorted out all the details yet, but assuming my schedule, the Ottawa Hospital's schedule and the donor's schedule all sync up, I should be undergoing the transplant procedure in late July or early August. I'll be spending the weeks leading up to that preparing in a variety of ways (more on that later) and trying to get myself in the best shape possible, through a careful combination of diet, rest and exercise. I'm also hoping to enjoy a bit of the annual Fantasia film festival, especially as it's probably the last film festival I'll be able to attend for 2008.

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