Friday, May 28, 2010

The side-effects

This is more for transplant peoples, just thought I'd share.

I had this dark freckle on my foot. Not really too big, a teensy bit raised, but not what I would class as a mole or anything. I don't know how long I've had it, maybe a couple of years, I couldn't be sure. I was aware of it, especially since skin cancer is a *huge* deal post transplant (Usually, when the UV rays or whatever cause cells to multiply abnormally (cancer) the body naturally fights this itself and corrects it. It happens a lot and without a person ever knowing, but without a good immune system this process is damaged, that's my basic understanding of it!) Anyway, my mom caught sight of it one day and pressed me to have it checked out.

My GP wasn't overly concerned. My dermatologist said he'd remove it there and then for me, except when he described what he would do, I freaked and said I'd think about it (since he wasn't overly concerned either).

So skip a couple of months later, and I'm off to America for the summer. My mom is still pressing me to have it dealt with. So I ring my GP who cannot fit me in until July(!). My dermatologist is the same. I then ring the Beacon Hospital who said something similar but we explained about how I would be away for the summer. Their timetable is to have a consult done on a Wednesday and then any follow up work done on a Friday. So they tell us, fine, we can go see them this Wednesday considering how I will be going away. (When I say "I" phoned and "we" explained, I obviously mean my mom, because she's better at these things than I am.)

So on Wednesday morning, we strolled up to the hospital and the lovely lady doctor saw me and I showed her the offending article. She had read my notes that I had had a transplant so was at an increased risk. I was about to ask her to just look at another freckle I had on my shoulder when she interrupted (and immediately, I was like 'ugh' since I loath it when people interrupt) and told me that, in fact, she would like to do a whole body examination as it was best to see if there was anything else. I loved that attitude. Following the examination (where she found one other suspect which should be monitored) she asked me had I found anything else which I wanted her to look at (she had this magnifying thing that looked like what detectives use when they're inspecting diamonds) and I showed her the dark freckle but she said it was ok.

She then said she felt it was best to definitely remove the thing on my foot. So she went out and rang the plastics clinic and sent me right up. The doctor there went through what would be done and said that he could fit me into his procedure clinic that afternoon.

So that afternoon, I had it removed, which was painless after the local anesthetic. I just can't walk now, but I'm trying very hard to put weight on my foot and getting it to work again.

There are two issues with this story. Firstly, I am extremely fortunate that we are able to afford to pay for all this (seeing two doctors in a private hospital and a GP for a referral letter the day before is NOT cheap). If I had waited until my hospital decided to do something and then gone on a waiting list for a public plastics clinic, that could be months. There is something about that that is not right at all; money shouldn't mean better health care, but yet, it does. We caught this one well in time, but it's so important to not get caught in that position when it's too late.

Secondly, I am going back to see this dermatologist once a year for a check up. I would recommend that all transplant patients do this if your clinic does not offer it. Or just do a self check and make a mental note of dark freckles. Prevention is much easier than treatment.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Summer's a coming

My exams are over. I am beginning to believe that summer is almost here. My passport arrived, I have travel insurance, I have picked flight dates, I am getting excited. It still doesn't feel real yet, as there are one or two more hurdles to be leaped over and I'm a bit nervous that it is mid May already.

I am (hopefully!) becoming a certified lifeguard in a couple of weeks. Yeah, random.

I joined a gym a few weeks ago, and the day of my induction I went to hospital and spent a few days on IVs and fainted a couple of times. Joining the gym is a traumatic experience.

So I eventually went back the other day. It's a circuit system and I highly recommend it. There's no tricking around on treadmills and bikes, it's weights and stretching and jogging. So far, I have been twice, the day before yesterday and today (my aim is every other day). But I really do enjoy it. However, it would appear my heart rate is a bit higher than they would like. You stop every eight minutes and check it and they have a chart which shows where you should be. They assured me it was probably the medications I am on. I think in reality it's because I am not fit AT ALL. I actually got embarrassed about how high it was (it was pushing 200 at one point), but once you go red on the chart, you take a break. I was actually red on the chart after my stretching, which confirms I am very unfit or that the gym thing for me truly is traumatic! So all in all, I look forward to having my six pack by next Saturday. I'm realistic like that you see, which probably explains my previous success with gyms.

In other 'news', I am browsing post graduate courses at the moment, both Masters degrees and PhDs. Mostly because I don't want to have to go get a job when I finish college and without the rich husband, I can't live my life with maids and butlers, playing tennis in the mornings and golf at the weekends *just* yet.

I found a couple I really like the look of, the selection for one seems very competitive, the other more attainable. Our class in college is *extremely* competitive. To the point where some students when they hear certain useful information will hide it from others. I enjoy the competitiveness because it motivates me to do better, but yet I'm not bitter when I don't do amazing either. I also don't agree with the hiding of information, because that's just a bit daft, but thankfully that is just one or two people.

In final news, and I say this because I have just checked I have stocked up for when this backfires, but I have been able to go over three weeks without any stomach/intestinal medications. And I haven't modified my diet. It makes me wonder is this whole fiasco is stress related. But as I say, having just announced that, I have my supplies ready to go for when I am riddled over in pain on Monday having cursed my luck!

I have just reread that last paragraph and feel maybe I'm being a bit... eh personal! But it's just so anyone reading who might be going through similar things, to be aware that stress can clearly have a huge impact on the processes in your body! So therefore, keep an open mind when assessing the need for medication. Not that I am advocating NOT following medical advice or anything....

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

I should be studying, volume 423535

It's 11.47 PM and I should be studying for tomorrow's exam. But I started getting distracted and thinking. In our class we had this competition. It was an international competition, but everyone in our class had to enter it. Our group came joint first with another group, but the other group were picked as winners and got to travel to Atlanta, Georgia for five days to go to some conference. It was very cool, actually. Our group were disappointed obviously, but not really THAT much, like we weren't that bothered by it, but would have been delighted had we won nonetheless.

But the group that did win had a lot of problems. Firstly, they had become so strained that they weren't on speaking terms by the time they left to go to America. And they had to spend the trip in the same hotel room. One said that while she was happy she went, it was the week before exams, so she wasn't too keen on being away not being able to study. Which was a fair point.

And *then* the volcano went and erupted and caused chaos. Instead of returning to Dublin on the Sunday, they were stranded - in Boston - until they eventually managed to escape on the Friday (I think?).

So I was thinking, how dreadful would it be, the cost, the fact that the group were having problems, the lack of study. And then it occurred to me, if it was ME, I would have run out of drugs. I usually bring about three days' extra with me anyway, but it would not have been enough.

So then, because I'm "studying", I googled the cost of *one* of my drugs. On this website, where it offers great deals, it would charge €1580 for a month. Now despite the fact that with that deal, I get 12 Viagra tablets, I couldn't imagine the stress of trying to sort that out in America.

It's really true, things happen for a reason!!! back to studying...