So this is Emma, Bridget’s daughter, writing an update, as I know people are wanting to hear how things are going.
Today is Day 13 post-transplant. Upon diagnosis, when we found out all about the stem cell transplant, we were told that the whole process takes about three weeks – with the second week being the worst. They were not lying!
Things were going very well – almost too well, and Martin and I were hoping that she might be the third person in 6 years not to get an infection post transplant. Unfortunately that was not the case. First of all, when her neutrophils plummeted to 0.0, so did her platelets – to 10. Two bags of donated platelets (thank thank, thank you, donors) made a huge difference. Then yesterday morning when I arrived, she had a slight cough. By lunchtime it was a full-blown cough with accompanying blocked nose and painful sinuses, and by the evening she was burning up. Since then it’s been a rollercoaster of high temps, reaching 41.2, then down, then up, and on we go. Chest X-ray and CT showed nothing sinister, and the results of viral swabs and blood cultures are still pending. She was started on one antibiotic, then a second, and today a third – in an effort to cover all bases. Her PICC line has been removed, as it has been in 2 weeks. One of the nurses said that 9 times out of 10 it is the PICC line that is the cause of generalised infection. Her CRP, the infection marker in the blood, has doubled in the last 24 hours.
Despite all this, there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. The registrar this morning said that he expects her neutrophils, currently 0.0, to start rising in the next 24-48 hours. This will mean she finally will have some white blood cells to fight whatever infection is currently running wild. So right now, she sleeps a lot, and we sit, and wait. And eat a lot of biscuits.
I’ve learnt a few things this week. I’ve learnt that my mum is even tougher than I thought. I’ve learnt that I’m tougher than I thought. I’ve learnt that my mum swears like a sailor when she’s really ill (yes – even more than usual). I’ve learnt that it is a gift to be able to care for my mother. A gift I will always treasure. It turns out that time together is always precious, even if it’s under the most difficult circumstances.
And in between the fevers, I check to see if her inimitable sense of humour is still intact. I’m afraid I can confirm that it is.
I’ll post again in a day or two, when I hope things will look a bit brighter. Thank you all so much for the messages of love and support coming in from far and wide. Although she is too ill to answer them all right now, I know she will reply once she feels better. I read her all the messages as they come in and she likes to hear them, so keep sending them!