Monday, 28 November 2011

Tiger, leopard, baby elephant

A white blood cell.
I need lots of them.
My white blood cell score last Tuesday was 1.4 megatons per millilitre (or something). I had been given medicine to boost my score higher than 2; anything lower, and my body would be unable to take the punishment of chemo. We rolled up on Wednesday to get my new score and crack on with the chemotherapy. I was gutted to hear that my immunity levels had actually dropped to 1.1, and chemo was therefore out of the question. Again. Chorio needs to be whacked hard and fast, so my worry rate increased.
Moniek preparing the syringes.
Sponsored by Fray Bentos, dedicated to the Conway.

White cell boosters could become a regular necessity, so Moniek had to learn domestic syringe skills. My worry rate spiked. The nurse injected another dose into my self-squeezed belly fat during a live demonstration. The side-effects of this potion are bones which ache to their very marrow, bronchitis-light, and monsoon sweating. It’s not fun, and not conducive to writing a blog.
The tiger-leopard
We waited by the tropical fish tank for the blood lab to open on Thursday morning. Moniek joked about my long-overdue hair loss, and grabbed the back of my head. A big clump came off in her hand and the joke fell flat. An hour later a borderline white cell score of 1.9 arrived, and Dr Karmen decided to go ahead with the B-mix chemo. I sighed with relief, and jumped into the bed to be poisoned.
The chemo depleted my white blood cell score again. Moniek gave a practice injection under medical supervision. Her technique was that of a beer-swilling darts player going for treble-twenty. I over-squeezed in panic, trapping the needle in my spare tyre. The nurse was shouting ‘let go of your fat! let go of your fat!’ but, despite the mild chaos, Moniek was given her needle proficiency badge.

Dr Karmen reviewed my data and called me to the clinic on Friday for yet another booster. A gruelling 5-day major cycle was drawing near, and so a plan was agreed for Moniek to give me another injection on Sunday. We were given a cool-bag to transport the medicine to the fridge at home.
Instrument of torture

My sister Elaine arrived on Friday afternoon. I was full of aches, coughs and sweats but cheered up immensely by her arrival. Her suitcase was full of gifts from well-wishers including a box of Quality Street which, as it turns out, are also enjoyed by the Dutch. Our ensuing gold coin debate had nothing to do with Eurozone matters.
My hair was dropping rapidly, so I offered the girls the rare opportunity to hand create a half tiger stripes, half leopard spots ‘style’. 5 minutes later, I was completely bald save for some easily ridiculed ‘baby elephant’ bristles.
Moniek needed to inject the booster medicine on Saturday, so I made elaborate omelettes to delay the inevitable. The actual size of the needle was, admittedly, quite small - but the psychological trauma it created was massive. Unfortunately, Elaine photographed the entire drama.
The baby elephant and Elaine.
My next major chemo cycle is scheduled to start tomorrow. Dr Karmen ordered more tests to check if (a) my white blood cell score was considerably higher than 2, and (b) my Chorio count had dropped from 6.7 since last week. We avoided the rain and nervously awaited the results under the awning of a coffee shop.

The nurse called mid-afternoon: white blood cell score 50, Chorio count 2. There was much cheering, hugging and chocolate eating.


  1. If I was any good at photoshop I would transplant Elaine's hair onto you, and your bristles onto her and see if anyone (including our mums and dads) noticed. You two look so alike - 2 peas in a pod. Great news the white bloods are well boosted and fab news the chorio count is so low. If the Chorio count gets to zero what does that mean? Are you glutten for punishment having Elaine there to ridicule you at a time like this? haha. Just kidding, I'm heartened that she is there with you and Moniek. I will be at church on Sunday and will put in a good word for you. xx
    Melinda = PS, Nina has Dehli Belly and Paul is already pretty much bald so you are in good company!

  2. Mate, that's fantastic news!!!
    I think I've developed OCB (Blog) this week. Just glad to hear all moving in right direction. When I first saw the torture pic I had a flash back to the rock city steps and trev's attempt to elleviate your stomach ache.

  3. Highs & lows in spades. Glad that the Blog has been refreshed as I'm getting the same condition as Whippet. I did have to do a double take on the photo of the injection process, could have been so very different.

    The numbers seem to be moving along in the right direction, but the impact on the process & the waiting times must be unfeasibly frustrating. Hang in there baldy.

    Rachel sent over some pics of a time back when you had a fuller head of hair. Not wishing to distribute these too widely I've sent them to Elaine, Hugh, Kate, Trev, Moniek, my sister...... Not that it's much of a consolation, I looked far more of a prat!

    Anyway, overjoyed that;
    a) Round 2 is up & running,
    b) Elaine is there to keep everyone's spirits up,
    c) the QS debate has reached the physical testing stage & I look forward to a full diagnostic report in due course.

  4. Very strange to say, but fantastic to hear that you can continue the chemo, as is so important now. Must be weird that your life is all around numbers. But very good to hear they get the desired value!!!

    Good luck the coming days with the poison in your body and trust it does the work it needs to do.

  5. We all seem to have OCB I think!

    So glad to see a new update with such awesome news on the numbers........keep on kicking it mate.

    Hope the next round of chemo does the job. I would offer you my old vinegar treatment but maybe save that for another day!

  6. Superb news Rick on the Chorio kick arse count. Keep it up fella! It's amazing how a little prick can make a grown man cry! (read in that what you will fellow bloggers). Keep up the fight.

  7. Well kick ass numbers like that need to be toasted so I will take it upon myself to crack open the Christmas Baileys and drink to your ever decreasing chorio numbers and increasing white blood cell numbers!! Oh and I think perhaps I may have a touch of OCB too!! Xxxx SNAP x

  8. Rick, you're doing great, mate! I've spoken with a few of the old KPMG gang and everyone is rooting for you. Good luck with round 2 & best wishes.
    By the way, doesn't it worry you that Moniek has developed Bobby Dazzlers' hands?

  9. Rick, glad for the update (I have OCB too) and also glad for the decreasing Chorio numbers - your reducing numbers was top of my list this year for things to be thankful for at Thanksgiving.

    It seems that Elaine has been able to bring the Magill brand of humour to Singapore with her, I hope that's proving a good distraction!

    Best of luck for the next round and thanks for making the blog update.

  10. Go Moniek Go!!! Stick it to him, now's your chance to get your own back for all those lentils Rick consumes just before bedtime.....Ditto the Whippet!

  11. Have to say the injection process was hilarious, but now I feel quite guilty as I had to leave the chemo room this morning when the nurse was pumping saline in/blood out of Rick's chest tube.

    He's doing brilliantly - very, very proud of him, and I'm incredibly lucky to be here to (a) not be suffering from the normal OCB and (b) be able to confirm that Moniek is the angel you all think she is.

    I'm not so happy about the hideous multi-chinned photo of me, but I suppose I can't complain about my bad hair day.

  12. Rick
    great to hear that things are going in the right direction. Don't worry about the hair loss, you are in good company!

  13. Ricky Magill you are The Man!! Great to hear the 'blood work' news mate. Also comforting that everyone else is equally obsessed about the blog - think I've read 'click' 5 times so far. Perhaps we should set up a 'support group' - My names Des and I'm a blogaholic! Rich would you like to share?....
    Anyhow enough of the waffle - we really should address how much you look like The Hood from Thunderbirds? Can we have a photo in an elaborate Chinese cloak with Gold shoulder boards please!

  14. Des, superb. Straight to the issue of the day. I was thinking Ming, but needs work on the eyebrows. I can post over a stick on variety from the costume shop on Southampton Row. £4.50 with John McCririck sidies thrown in for good measure. May have to check that they're not ginger mind.

    Elaine, I'm with you re the chest tube bit.

    Oh yeah, & not forgetting the man of the moment, keep it up Rick / Ming (Mk2).

  15. Mate, i'm with you on the whole needle bit - so on ya all round. Fab results and you really are in good company with the hair thingamo, Jus has (lack of) hair glare on any photos requiring flash photography these days!

    Oh and defo OCB all round!!


  16. Des - despite a full search of Orhard Road I haven't been able to find a gold shoulder-padded outfit. Despite this the resemblance to Hood is uncanny - especially when Rick had the tubes coming out of him earlier just like the Thunderbird strings.

    Ian - not so sure about Ming. He didn't have much facial hair before and now I'm not sure he could pull off the big mo' .

  17. Elaine, very valid point. I'll forego the McCririck sidies & splash out on the £4.95 full Ming eyebrow / big mo kit.

    If we are moving into 'mo' territory, is there a hint of Ghandi in there (the nose has potential)?

    I guess the industrial chemistry is being embraced as much as one can. Thoughts are with you all (& has Moniek checked out on a 9 dart finish yet?).

  18. Hi Rick. Thrilled that the news is positive and progressing in the right direction. Wishing you well with the next round. We've joined the OCB gang too. Keep up the good work blog King.... And celebrate with a green triangle!

  19. PS I prefer the purple chocolate covered brazil nuts. Even though you're miles away from us you're still close in our hearts. Keep up the good fight.

    Remember " if you are going through hell, keep going" Winston Churchill.

  20. Elaine, you are in SE Asia and you can't find a simple item of Oriental Evening wear?? Plymouth is hardly known for its ladyboy community but even my local charity shop could yield a decent Hood/Ming outfit. Plenty of scope in that last sentence for some 'abusive repost' bloggery!
    We need that photo - last time I saw Rick in a dress was at Trent Poly 'brick-counters' party. A rather shear leopard skin number I recall - Nice!

  21. Words won't say it enough, the news is totally fantastic! Biggest hugs to you and all the other blog addicts, its wonderful newsxxxx

  22. Rick, my old mucka and fellow winder-upper of O level English teachers... Its 2.06am here in Prague and I have just read your blog from start to present.. I may never have known yr situation if it wasn't for a brief bout of paranoia about deleting "real" emails in among the 122 which Yahoo had ID'd as spam. And there you were, along with various generous offers to improve my "skill with ladies" via a certain blue pill...

    Mate, what to say? I'm overwhelmed at the sheer courage you've shown to endure all that it has taken so far to get you to this point. Keep fighting - and keep writing - knowing that people the world over (even those like me who haven't seen you for years) are thinking positive thoughts on your behalf and wishing you well, in every sense.

    And finally (in case it hasn't cropped up yet):
    "He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy!"

  23. I do believe I have a photo of Rick in a school girl outfit complete with pigtails somewhere...if we're going down that road!!

  24. Matt, what a stunning memory. The O Level teacher in question was I believe Miss Thomas. She was roughly 4'9" or something. The only flaw in an otherwise cast iron plan that you & Rick hatched in a nanosecond was to mistime the laughing / concerned face scenario as she switched between the two of you with finger wagging. Great use of such fine phrases of 'you could do so much better if only you applied yourself!'. The resulting 'phhhaaa' from you in her face I believe was the last straw from which your English tutoring never recovered.

    I'll send over a few 80s photos for you now, which with a fair wind & a generous heart, Rick will share on the site for the good of the OCB community.

    Fond regards to Singapore & all the best wishes a cold Monday night in the home counties can drum up.

  25. Ian, I was thinking more of Mr. Hinchliffe (?), the owner of the 3rd worst perm at Sandy Upper - after Rick & Leigh. But the attitude towards "applying ourselves" was much the same as the previous year with Miss T., the poisoned dwarf :)

    Thx for the photos - I'm in no doubt that Rick will get one helluva boost from the site of you in those blue Playschool presenter strides - tremendous!

  26. Mate what a rollercoaster you are on but fab news about the numbers! All hero worship to Moniek who obviously scored a bullseye this time.
    Still rooting and a tooting for you over here Lovey. Take care.
    Cath, Graeme, Heather and Grace xxx