Considering that I’m nearly fifty-one years old, I’ve had very little experience with needles. Discussing my illness with my GP I realised that I have only had a couple of blood samples taken in my life, prior to my CLL diagnosis.
I discovered that a 1996 test, when I had pneumonia, showed elevated white counts. Was this the first manifestation of my CLL? I will never know of course, but perhaps it was affecting me even then. That test, thinking about it recently, was the first time I can actually remember having samples taken. The next time of course was the time I was in for the heart examinations. I eventually discovered that my heart would last a good few years yet, the blood pressure was under control and that I would have to have prophylactic antibiotics prior to any dental treatment for the rest of my life.
A few days later a letter arrived that was to have more serious consequences than I realised for a long time.
“A high white cell count was noted on your blood tests. I have passed this on to the Haematology department who will be contacting you”.
That was in August 2005, and by November, and a few armfuls of blood later, I had the official diagnosis of CLL. Dr. Strangelove had already told me that was what he expected, and so it turned out to be.
Since then, I’ve had my arm punctured many times, and have reached the following conclusion. I am a wimp; a wuss and a big baby all rolled into one. I don’t like having blood samples taken at all, something that a grown man should have no trouble with. Something that a grown man with CLL should certainly have no trouble with.
Dr. Strangelove took himself the most recent sample himself. Let me give you some idea of what happened, and perhaps it will help me deal with my bloodletting issues.
There is something, well, strange, about Strangelove. I can’t really put my finger on the bloody pulse, so I’ll start with a description, from the opera cape to his widows peak via the morning suit with waistcoat, and his strange insistence on staying in the shadows, and those oddly piercing hypnotic blue eyes.
I sat with a pillow on my lap, a tray of empty vials and a couple of packs of sterile needles glinting in the light reflected from the corridor outside. He sat in front of me, and I was transfixed as he placed a strap around my upper arm and ripped open the packet of the largest needle. Unable to move, I watched the needle enter the vein and blood flow into five vials. Strangelove’s mouth twitched in anticipation, and I could see his canine teeth lengthen in the hypnotic gloom. He wiped his brow, straightened up, wrapped his cape around himself, and left the room.
I hadn’t expected Strangelove to take samples himself, but thinking about it afterwards, it makes a certain macabre sense. I imagine that I will face far worse at some time in the future, but I am resolved to stop being such a wuss from now onwards.
I wonder what a BMB will do to me?
I’ve been thinking about my upcoming chemo treatment and what it might do to me besides help with the blood counts, the fatigue, the night sweats and the day sweats and the meat sweats and even the thinking about the sweat sweats, the cramps, and the enlarged lymph nodes.
In other words I have been thinking about side effects.