Day 13: Look, mum – no tears!! (Thursday 10 November)

If you can, please give blood. It’s easy, costs nothing more than a little time, and really, truly saves lives. Cancer patients, car-accident victims, babies, old people, you name it – there are many of us who have been recipients of blood products that may not be here today without your generosity. Please keep giving. Contact Red Cross (Australia) on 13 14 95 or

Well, well, well.                                                                                                                                                                      

No, I’m not talking about three holes in the ground. I’m talking about how great, or ‘well,’ I felt when I woke up this morning. I’m not sure if I felt normal or not, or if I even know what that is anymore, but I know that I woke with no pain and that I actually felt refreshed from the night’s sleep. Braddy’s foam layering really worked a treat. What a welcome relief.

I had to show up at the hospital at 740am this morning so that blood could be taken to get things ready for my DCT (Dendritic Cell Therapy). Fortunately it was a nice day, not wet and not too cold so it was pretty easy to get there on time. So, I bounced in (a slight overstatement) at the allotted time and then, just like almost every hospital I’ve ever been admitted to, I began to wait. And wait. And wait. Aaaaahhhhh…  just like home. Sometime after nine I started to see some action.

Around 100ml of blood had to be collected so that it could be sent to Beijing and have magic weaved in it to then be returned to me in a fortnight. I’ll get around to finding a reputable link to information about Dendritic Cell Therapy in case you want to know more about it, but basically its cutting edge, Nobel Prize winning sort of stuff. No, not available in Australia. Yet *she says with a glint in her eye.*

After 45 minutes and with the assistance of three nurses about 100ml was finally extracted from my stubborn veins. For some reason we just can’t seem to get enough pressure out of my picc line so it is very hard to get the blood out. Very annoying, but we don’t have a solution for that one yet.

Money matters

Last night after the banks had closed we were told to bring 25000 RMB (nearly $4000) to the hospital today to pay for the DCT. Slight problemo. We were down to about 2000 RMB in cash and the ‘trusty’ Australian banks have not been terribly accommodating insofar as international money transfers are concerned. We’ve now spent the first $20K cash that we brought here so we had to think fast. Western Union? We’ve never had a reason to use it before but hey, millions of people around the world seem to use the service every day. We got on the phone to our friend David in Brisbane before he went to bed and arranged for him to send money to us here in China via Western Union the next morning. The plan (hope) was that we could make use of the time difference between here and there, and that the money would be available for collection by the time we needed it at nine o’clock. And what do you know. It worked!!!!! Amazing. It gets better though.

Brad was worried he’d have trouble communicating at the Western Union agency about picking up the money so he got onto an online translation service and printed out a range of phrases to help guide him through the transaction. He showed up at the bank which acts as the WU agency with his printed phrases and within a minute or two one of the bank guys turned to him and said, “No worries, I speak English. How can I help?” It turns out that the bank teller had an MBA that he got at the University of Birmingham. So we got the cash that we needed to get today’s treatment started. Now the question is whether Macquarie Bank can get its act together and transfer the money we’ve ordered by the time we have to pay for the next SPDT instalment on Monday. We shall see.

Panda’s blood

Today was meant to be a quick day (I seem to be saying that a lot). All that was on the agenda was taking blood for DCT, the vitamins and KLT, and SPDT. Five to six hours tops. They said I was going to have a blood transfusion today and said that might add an extra hour or two. By four thirty this afternoon I was done with all the infusions and treatment and was getting ready to hightail it out of there. We had big plans. A massage (at a different place to the one we tried before) and dinner at a little restaurant we found that is run by a Chinese woman who used to be an English teacher.

Almost just as the last drop of KLT was being infused and my mouth was starting to water at the thought of dumplings in hot and sour soup, Dr Yia (the young doctor) showed up. Bad sign. He bounced in with a little too much spring in his step for my liking and announced that the blood was on its way. What??!!! I thought they’d forgotten about that, or changed their minds or something. Nope. I didn’t exactly hide my dissatisfaction at having my plans for the afternoon obliterated. They briefly talked about the possibility of holding off on the blood and giving it to me tomorrow. But no. You see, I have Panda’s blood so waiting a day to give me a fresh serving of it was definitely not possible. Panda’s blood? Yes, rare stuff. Something hard to get and something definitely not to be wasted. Of course I have a rare blood type to go with my rare cancer. Being ‘rare,’ starts out pretty fun but the novelty soon wears off.

We tried to do the maths on how much longer I’d have to stay in today. I was told that I would get 200ml of blood and that it would be done in an hour or two. It turns out that is the polite, Chinese way of saying you are having 600ml of blood, and you will be finished in four-five hours so cancel all your plans, settle in and suck it up. Brad left around six to go and do something more interesting like work on his tax return and I kicked back with some more episodes of Tara. Until my iPad battery ran out. I know those things last for 10 hours but I wonder if they could make a 14 hour long-life battery that I could buy to last through an entire day in the hospital? I may have to write to Steve Jobs’ (RIP) successor to suggest it.

Despite all this I am very pleased to report that there were no tears today. Not one. This is a new daily high! What’s more I’ve even come up with a TPP (tear-prevention plan) in anticipation of more pain from ripping the plastic off my arm each day when my line gets covered up for the sonar treatment. Arm waxing. A bit weird maybe, since I hardly even have any hair on my arm but why not?  On our day off on Saturday I am going to find a beauty salon and get half of my left arm waxed. One-off pain for long term gain.

By 930 tonight after fourteen long but relatively stress-free hours in the hospital I was freed. That of course led to the next problem: dinner. Brad had been out scouting the neighbourhood for where we might eat only to find that our regular haunts had all closed around 830pm. Things were not looking good. I hate to say this but our only option to eat close to ‘home’ at 10pm was to go and visit Colonel Sanders *hangs head in shame.* We consumed the eleven secret herbs and spices, sans greens, and walked back to the hotel feeling just a little bit wrong.


Day 13: Just the medical stuff

110ml blood removed for DCT. Vit C, Vit B6. KLT. Dexamethasone sodium phosphate (?) (Something to stop me from reacting to the blood transfusion), 600ml blood (American, not Chinese), SPDT.