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My Bone Marrow Transplant

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

I made it to Day +100. Any feelings of relief are tempered by the realisation that we still need to see the results of the bone marrow biopsy last week before the final sigh of relief can be exhaled. Normally, we would now be packing to return to Manila, but Singapore are keeping me here for another 3 months to make absolutely sure. A decision I am not unhappy about.

Why is 100 days considered a milestone? There is no medical reason. Back when transplants were first being done in a limited number of hospitals, patients would ask how long they had to stay close to the transplant centre and someone suggested 100 days, and it stuck.

It’s HK Sevens weekend, the weekend last year when they woke me up in the HK Sanatorium ICU. I was confused, disoriented, angry; I could not talk, my hands were tied down to stop me pulling out the ventilator. I could not drink anything, people had to spray water into my mouth to keep it moist. I was being fed intravenously. Because I was still semi-conscious my mind was playing tricks on me and the staff looked like large cats because of their uniforms. I remember some friends being there, Cap, Joey, Elcee, Linds, Hiroshi and Yvonne, Todd Slater; I know there were others but I don’t remember them. I remember the in house TV being on a channel which just seemed to repeat a program about Elizabeth Taylor’s jewellery collection.

The view from the ICU was of the south end of the Happy Valley racetrack. It took me a long time to work it out.

Physiotherapy to clear out my lungs was started. The physio would cup my back hard for a couple of minutes to loosen up the phlegm and then stick a tube down and suck out what they could. It’s a distressing experience when they stick that tube into your lungs. There was one male physio who kept calling me “mate”, which I hate. So I flipped him the finger. He asked me about it when I could talk later and I explained why.

But enough of that. We spent a wonderful evening with Bobby and Debbie Coloma at their apartment about 5 minutes drive away, my third evening out since the transplant. Pizza for dinner followed by chocolate and Camomile tea! Bobby is a Vinyl buff and we spent the evening listening to Dire Straits, Nirvana, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Guess Who and others. You just can’t beat vinyl for the dynamic range and sense of openness in the music. Even an original ’70s copy of “Let It Bleed” sounded wonderful.

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