I had no intention, when I started this ‘What would you do if you had a year to live?’ exercise, of being diagnosed with anything more serious than a cold. That’s how we are. Bad things may be lurking somewhere down the road, but they’re never going to happen this year.
Well, as I wrote in the previous one of this series of posts, I have now been diagnosed with something. Something called ‘Polycythaemia’. Not life threatening, so long as it’s treated. But also not curable, so something that now partly defines me. And is certainly adding an edge to what I’d thought would be a series of largely philosophical posts.
“My bone marrow is producing too many red blood cells. This is a relatively rare condition called Polycythaemia, most often caused by a genetic defect and leading the blood to become thick and sluggish through the over production of red blood cells. Therefore increasing the risk of strokes or heart attack. I’m still having various tests, but in the meantime my red blood cells are being kept at safe levels by regularly having pints of blood taken from me.”
So at the moment, though I’ve been diagnosed with this, I’m still going through tests to try and establish the particular cause of the condition in me. These have been blood tests up until yesterday, when I went up to Ward 7Y at the Royal Hospital here in Liverpool, for a bone marrow biopsy. I won’t go into the details of this, it’s not that kind of post, other than to say it was very skilfully done, but you wouldn’t want to have one every day.
No, my reflections are more about Ward 7Y, where I’ve also been a few times to have pints of blood taken. This is the Royal’s Haematology Department, dealing with a wide range of blood disorders, of which mine is nowhere near the most serious. When I’m in there, there are usually other people having chemotherapy. Quietly cheerful, for the most part. Quietly determined to live. And there so often that they’re very well known to the staff. Yesterday a nurse came into the waiting area to call for someone and momentarily forgot her second name. Because she always thought of her by her first name. A friendly place, above everything else.
But such a crowded place for them all to work in, and us all to wait in. As you’ll know if you’re a regular reader, I think the Royal is one of the worst designed buildings in Liverpool. The fact that miracles are regularly performed there is entirely to the credit of the NHS staff.
Talking to the nurses yesterday they have great hopes of the new hospital, now being built around the current one.
Meaning that for the next few years there will be 3 Royal Hospitals spread out along the road here.
We did some work in here a good few years ago and particularly noticed the quality of the original Victorian building works. The beautiful tiling and the way all the screws in the woodwork of the whole place are precisely aligned. Let’s hope the design of the new Royal learns more from this original than from the current one. The staff on 7Y and all of the other wards deserve it. And so do we.
As for me, I’m deep into Medical Land now. Frequent blood tests, investigations, consultant appointments. Something every week, several somethings some weeks. Very glad to be self-employed and so in control of my own time, as these appointments are already at the level where any employer would be having to be very sympathetic and supportive indeed.
So I’ve slowed my work down, as I’d intended to anyway. But now I’m not just judging work by whether I’d want to do it if I had a year to live, but also by will I have the time to do it? The ‘quietening down of the rage to succeed’ which I wrote about in an earlier post, has now been replaced by an even quieter acceptance of reality. Life is what matters and quietly getting on with what I need to do to preserve the quality of it, together with doing some bits of work I love, and living here with Sarah are what matter most to me now.
Later on today I’ll be back at my main hospital, Broadgreen, for an Ultrasound Scan to see how my spleen is doing in all this. Getting the 68 bus to that particular part of Medical Land. Life, I’m glad to say, continues.
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