Since we first heard that Herbie was definitely having a Bone Marrow Transplant earlier this year we have worked very hard to stay positive and focused, not just for our own sanity but for Herbie and our other children. I can’t tell you how often we have been commended by friends, family, nurses, consultants and total strangers for our positive outlook and our strength. It’s always very lovely & flattering to hear this but I often think ‘what is the alternative?’ And ‘wouldn’t any parent do the same?’
So here we are , 175 days since Rufus donated his cells. It’s often hard to remember our time in Great Ormond Street in much detail, perhaps we are already pushing it back to allow new and happier memories. Some days actual transplant time seems miles away then suddenly something transports you back there in a second. That was the case this week.
On Wednesday we went back to GOS for Herbie’s outpatient appointment & Lily came too as Waseem wanted to see her as it had been almost a year since her last appointment. Herbie was thrilled that his big sister was coming. The mood in the car was happy and positive. We talked about the imminent future, Christmas, birthdays etc with a different , more hopeful tone. I won’t deny that last Christmas was pretty rubbish despite my efforts to keep the spirit alive, even me, the Christmas queen, lost the Christmas sparkle. The birthday celebrations got cancelled, the family get togethers only saw some of us and this year we have plans to turn what Herbie & I refer to as last years Hard Candy Christmas (there’s some Dolly Parton for everyone right?’) into something a little more soft and squidgy!
We arrived early and walked from our usual parking space , past Russell Square tube station down to the hustle and bustle of GOS.
We were met by Hiral and Charlie, from the BBC crew, who wanted more footage , especially of Lily, for the series. Once we arrived in Safari it was the usual drill. Herbie was called in for weight, height etc whilst Lily went off to film with Hiral & Dan. His BP was rather high but he was so excitable that Waseem wasn’t overly concerned.
As I had been checking in I felt a hand on my arm and it was Vicki, Jack’s mum , who we seem to bump into every appointment now. Looking at the gorgeous Jack it’s hard to believe that I started reading their blog almost a year ago and what has happened to us all in that time. It’s funny how people you hardly know seem like old friends, bone marrow transplants do give you a bond with those you share the journey with.
We went into see Waseem. He looked genuinely pleased to see Lily & Herbie looking so well. It was agreed that Herbie would restart the wean of MMF that was stopped months ago and if that went to plan in two weeks we would drop the steroid (prednisolone ) by another 2ml per dose. The steroid creams were to be used every other day & in December we would repeat scans etc and hopefully stop the Micafungin iv. We were more than happy with that plan. Herbie asked again about returning to school and Waseem said he thought he could do a few hours here and there , hopefully be in the Nativity, with a view to proper reintegration in the new year.
Lily looked well and he was pleased that there had been improvement in her lung function. He said that for now the BMT was on hold. Music to our ears! He was very pleased to hear that she did PE had managed no days sick from school, was off on an adventure weekend and had played a gig on Saturday!
Both children needed blood taken, for Herbie this is easy using his Hickman but Lily had peripheral bloods taken using a little numbing spray. Hiral and Charlie were filming this with a new member of the crew!
Before we left for home Herbie and I had another job to do. We returned to Level 5 to Robin and a Fox Wards with cards and magazines for two BMT buddies.
Our BMT buddy Milan, who came into transplant about 2 weeks before we did in April this year, is still in his same room in Fox and has been now for nearly 7 months. I’m sure you will read this and be touched by the thought of this, a young boy, the same age as Ru, being stuck in isolation and unable to go home post transplant. I can assure you that once you have been in their for ten weeks you feel nothing but admiration and love for these people. His wonderful parents, juggling work, hospital and another child whilst maintaining positive outlooks and determination. We know how tough that is for ten weeks let alone 7 months. It was great to hug his mum and catch up, although we couldn’t obviously go to see Milan himself. I just wanted his family to know that we think of them.
Just to prove how special they are, they gave Herbie a gift too! Still thinking of others! Herbie was thrilled when we got to Robin to see Rehka through the window, he shouted at her and suddenly she burst through the door to see him, closely followed by Ella, another of his favourites. It was wonderful to catch up with them and we all had hugs.
Herbie gave them the card and magazine for Jacob who had his transplant in May like Herbie but has recently returned to GOS following a bout of illness. We didn’t want to disturb him or his mum as we know things are a bit tough right now but I was thrilled to bump into Lucy, his mum , on the way to the lifts and catch up. Another strong family, juggling work, two other children and being away from home.
Finally, after goodbyes , promises to return to say hi again soon and messages of support, we left. Herbie was thrilled with his gift but I knew we were both thrilled about having the luxury of leaving to go home…being back there brought it all back.
We travelled home and got back in time to run indoors for coats etc for Guy Fawkes /Bonfire night celebrations. I quickly opened the post and was emotional to find this letter confirming guest entry for us all to Camp Bestival 2015!
Then it was off to Dans parents house for the family fireworks and. Herbie’s first family get together since March. He was thrilled and so were his cousins and friends.
So after a fun packed day we move forward into the next phase of recovery. Weaning off of more meds, gradually visiting school and hopefully an immune system that works properly.
our thoughts are still with our BMT friends, Milan, Jacob, Jack and Erin and their families who are having tougher times.
It just shows how fragile each stage of this process is…
Oh and if you are feeling a little bah humbug about people getting festive a little early think again, they may have reasons for it that you have no idea about. Everyone deserves to decide when they want to start feeling Christmassy whether it’s November 1st or Dec 24th. X