It's not Monday – The Bangles got it wrong

Knights in White Satin

The title for my next blog post is an aberration of the Moody Blues song title, Nights in White Satin. The lyrics relate to someone grieving for the recent loss of a love while already falling in love with someone new, meanwhile sleeping in totally impractical satin sheets.

Having a stem cell transplant focuses the mind on the importance of neutrophils in human health. Basically, without them we are shot. Having a transplant is a race in time during which our body struggles to replace those neutrophils killed off during chemotherapy. The window of survival is small. You can’t put a bag of neutrophils up, your stem cells have to make them. As soon as your neutrophils get low, any opportunistic infection lays hold. The only weapon we have is antibiotics but even they are not enough for long without your neutrophils. When they are up and running they seek out and destroy every errant bacteria, every parasite, every fungal spore. One way they kill bacteria is by engulfment. Another way is by eating them alive. Without neutrophils and unprotected from the world, we would be dead in less than 2 weeks.

neutrophil engulfing an anthrax spore (red)

A neutrophil is one of many types of white blood cell, but far and away the most important one. Thinking about them led me to anthropomorphising them. I turned them into human warriors, but not modern ones. These were from the time of chivalry.

Of all English mythology, the tales of Arthur and his Knights are probably the most entertaining. Of the Knights, arguably it is Lancelot who is the most romantic. He is brave and strong and fearless and fights for his lady in battle. He stands at rest, head bowed, but ready to defend.

I love the little insight Tennyson gives us in his poem The Lady of Shallot. We sense that he is kind and caring and essentially human. A true white knight. When he sees the recently dead Lady of Shallot, we read;

But Lancelot mused a little space. He said, “She has a lovely face. God in his mercy lend her grace, The Lady of Shallot.”

For several days my neutrophils were at zero as I coped with fever after fever and then a few appeared, then the next day more and today they stand at 1.5, enough for me to go home. I have been without a fever for three full days. I have to go home. If I hang around here I may catch something else. I will be safer at home.

This morning Emma clipped my hair short. I was getting fed up of hair coming out in tufts and getting everywhere. I feel much better with it gone but my head is decidedly colder!

G.I. Jane

My life will be quiet and a bit restricted at least for the first month. No shops or businesses. No gatherings. Just two friends at a time. No hugging and no children. But I will relish time at home with Martin, in my own bed, surrounded by my own belongings. I look forward to walking slowly around the park in the fresh air.

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  1. Meg Hardie February 12, 2019

    Great news Bridget! Happy home coming and continuing recuperation day by day x

  2. Sarah February 12, 2019

    Home is always the best place … so great news! I know it’s been tough but good times are coming Sarah x

  3. Elleanor Morgan February 12, 2019

    Well G.I. Jane, this is great news and the description of the neutrophils is informative for the uninitiated. I feel that I now have more knowledge of stem cells than Joe public. You might be in solitary confinement for a month but you’ll still have friends to visit, including yours truly and Emma with you for a little while longer.
    Take care dear friend, even with that short back and sides you are “perfect”.

  4. Jenny February 12, 2019

    Home is your castle, enjoy it. Facebook will help you keep connecteed with the world! Take care x

  5. Tina Hunt February 12, 2019

    Absolutely no place like home! Excellent news, Bridget!
    Thank goodness for Social Media – you won’t miss a thing ! Looking forward to seeing you at S&T in the not too distant future

    • Bridget Gunnewicht February 19, 2019

      Thank you Tina. As soon as I have enough neutrophils to attend S&T, I will be back. X

  6. Rob Stockton February 13, 2019

    Great news Biddy, so pleased you have sufficient cell production to escape hospital confinement. Wishing you every progress for a speedy return to full resilience and a wonderful healthy life, full head of hair and your usual lovely self.

    • Bridget Gunnewicht February 19, 2019

      Thank you Rob for you kind and cheering words. I will be back at 308 just as soon as I can. X

  7. Jo Purchase February 13, 2019

    Hope things continue to improve, you deserve it. The new look suits you. I’m sure you will find plenty to keep yourself occupied for the next few weeks. Look after yourself and let Martin spoil you. Don’t overdo things. Love to you both xx

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