I have been wearing spectacles since I was thirteen years old, because I am short sighted. I can vividly remember the stupendous headache I suffered after wearing the first pair I had ever had for only a couple of hours. Brits of a certain age reading this will be able to picture the Hank Marvin style frames that I thought were trendy at the time. A couple of years later I had progressed to a gold wire framed octagonal pair, with a slightly pink tint. By the time I was driving my own car, still aged eighteen, I had a pair of prescription dark tinted lenses fitted into some pilots style frames for use in the car, and for looking cool generally. Those pilots glasses were, unfortunately, the best shades I have ever owned, and all attempts to find shades that were as functional since that first pair have been futile.
When my first cycle of Chemo began in May 2007, I was expecting a total of six rounds, and that today – 29th August 2007 – would be day one of round five.
Yesterday I attended Dr. Strangelove’s Tuesday outpatients clinic at the
castle nosferatu local hospital. I expected him to discuss the latest results, and suggest a cat scan, in order to assess the progress of my treatment to date. I fully expected to be taking home a large bag of drugs from the nosferatu Chemotherapy Day Unit, with the usual admonishments to stay out of the sun, eat no garlic, get in touch straight away at the slightest sign of a fever or any symptoms of a cold, shivers etc.
I was not looking forward to the next five days. Last month, my fourth round, I had felt miserable during that time. During my consultation Strangelove confirmed my feeling that the discomforts of treatment are cumulative, and I was not imagining that each round was worse than the last. I had spent half that week lying down, as previously described.
Looking at the blood tests however, Strangelove agreed with me that the counts were all in the “normal” range, and he didn’t want to make me do two more rounds of chemo, as there was no need. I had to double check that I had understood the implications of all this, but I was right, I had understood, and I think that if my smile had been any wider, the top of my head would have fallen off. He said that the synergy of the two chemo drugs, Fludarabine and Cyclophosphamide, had given him good results in the past, and I had been particularly sensitive, and hence successful.
My next scheduled appointment with Strangelove is at the end of November, and I am delighted with this news.
There was no mention of the word remission in our discussion, nor had I expected it. In the CLL community, there is some debate as to whether the word should be used at all in connection with our illness. I am a realist, and at some stage, I expect to be back in treatment again, but I am optimistic that it will not be for a decent length of time. I will get a little hint in November when I get the results of my next blood tests.
I skipped away from the consultation to make my next appointment at reception.
“No more bloody chemo for me!” I announced, smiling at the ladies and a couple of people waiting at reception.
The reaction from everybody within earshot was heart-warming. Genuine broad grins and congratulations as they shared my pleasure.
If you happen to be in Sedgefield in the next few days, and see a manically grinning grey-bearded bloke, you will probably understand why.
People amaze me sometimes, with their opinions and beliefs. I’m fairly certain that this is a subject I will return to time and again, as it seems to be that rationality is under attack wherever I look.
Happily, one of my favourite Professors, Richard Dawkins, has just had a couple of programmes broadcast on Channel 4, and they are available on the internet. (Is it sad that I have favourite professors?)
The two programmes, entitled “The Enemies Of Reason”, took a broad look at alternative therapies, and how Dawkins feel they are undermining rationality and science in general. Covering such esoteric arts as light therapy, ayuverdic therapy, a healer who claimed to have given Dawkins extra DNA in the Atlantean style, crystal healing, angels and homeopathy: Dawkins gently and politely tried, and failed, to elicit any evidence of the effectiveness of the various treatments.
In one segment of the film, Dawkins was on a treatment table, having his feet pummelled by a therapist. His commentary told us that this had been a very pleasant experience, and he had enjoyed the treatment. He went on to suggest that the conditions created by alternative treatments; the undivided attention of a sincere, caring, concerned therapist, are exactly those that are most effective in creating the placebo effect, well known to modern medicine.
Based on the thought noted above, I would like to nominate my barber for the title of “Alternative Therapist Of The Year”