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My Bone Marrow Transplant

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

We are  home! We were ready to leave the flat an hour before I had booked the taxis. A strange feeling to be kicking your heels when you so desperately want a journey to start. Igna went in one taxi to the budget terminal, Linds and I to Terminal 2 in the other.

The taxi driver dropped us off at the Business Class entrance. Of course the GST Reclaim desk is at the other end of the terminal building. So we got some exercise walking all the way there and all the way back to BC check in.

We checked in and were 10Kg overweight. This after unloading a suitcase full of “non-essential” items last night as I mentioned. Plus the stuff that Phil kindly brought to Manila last week.

More GST bureaucracy after Immigration then to the SQ Lounge to chill for 45 minutes before going to the gate. My belt buckle set off the body scanner so I was frisked. The guy felt the lump under my shirt which was the CVC ends in their pouch. “What’s that?” he asked. “A catheter which goes into my heart, want to see it?” I replied. “No thanks sir.”

On to the plane and the emotion started to hit. I started to get tears, no idea why; sadness, relief, happiness, a sense of loss all intermingled as I thought of the past 6 months and what I had experienced. I am tearing up now writing about it as the emotions well up again.

We pushed back in torrential rain and taxied out and took our place in the queue. The windows were streaming with water as we gradually got closer to take-off, was Singapore crying to see me leave? But with 2 planes left in front of us it eased off quickly and had stopped before we accelerated down the runway for take-off. The rubber left the road at 12:34pm and I was crying as we climbed and banked away from my home for the past 6  months. We renewed friendships with people we hadn’t seen in many years, we made new friends who we will miss. That chapter of my journey closes.

The flight was uneventful and Manila was in bright sunshine when we landed at 4pm. On the approach I could see our apartment building. It hit me that somehow I had never doubted that I would return home.

Immigration and Customs went smoothly and the car was waiting for us when we got to the pick up point. Sam came rushing over and gave me a big hug. I swear he has grown again since I saw him a few weeks ago. We were listening to Snow Patrol on the way home, and as we passed McKinley Hill we were listening and singing along to “Chasing cars” and the tears started again and the closer we got to PPT the more they welled up. And I was sobbing and Sam was hugging me and I was desperately trying to stop before we got to the front door of the building and Sam sensibly switched the music off and that allowed me to get my emotions under control in time. And it’s hard to write this through the tears.

Because that’s what these diseases do to you, because you never know if the treatment has been successful, because you have so much to live for and can be robbed of hope by a bad blood test result. So you ignore that, and most of the time you can push it so far back in your consciousness that you almost forget that it exists because you feel fine. And then you think of someone or see someone who you love so very deeply and the emotion just hits you, that sense of sadness that you could be robbed of precious time with those people at any time and you worry terribly about how they will cope without you.

And you go on; you take the drugs, you are careful about what you eat, you keep the catheter clean, you wear a mask in crowded places. You do the things you need to do to stay as healthy as possible while the body and the new immune system play their game of Last Man Standing. And you spend time with your precious ones and your close friends because you know what really matters in life. I don’t need the fancy watches, the expensive art work, the designer clothes, the latest iGadget. I need time with the ones that I love and care about deeply.

And I still can’t put into words adequately all the emotions that are welling up in me since the journey home started this morning. We have been together as a family several times in the past 6 months but somehow for me being together in PPT in Manila is different. This is home, this is normalcy. I am so happy to be back here safely, so grateful for continued health, that I have made it this far, for the wonderful friends who always rally round us. But I am also so aware that many, many, others haven’t had the opportunity to have the superb medical care that I have received, and that brings feelings of unworthiness with that nagging question “Why me? Why have I been so blessed? I don’t deserve it.” And that’s the other side of the emotional seesaw.

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