Tuesday, 30 April 2019


I've never been inclined just to 'go for a walk'. I've walked because I need to get from a to b, I'm taking photographs for a blog, I'm exploring a neighbourhood, those kinds of things. Now I'm walking for my life.

As some of you already know (I left a note in the comments attached to the last post) I came out of hospital on 18th March. Unfortunately the chemo had only worked to a certain extent and the leukaemia has come home with me.

Last week I had a discussion with one of the doctors who arranges stem cell transplants. Right at the beginning she warned me that everyone who has this discussion with her leaves the room feeling grim. May as well share the grimness - and the hope.

The only way forward now is to have a bone marrow/stem cell transplant. If I don't I will die in about a year's time. They haven't got a named donor yet but they have samples in the lab and are working out if they can find a near enough match. If they can, and the donor checks out as healthy and still willing and available . . . I'll probably go back into hospital in about six weeks time. The chances of dying as a result of the transplant itself are about 5%. The chances of the transplant 'working' are 50 - 60%-ish. I'd be in hospital about five weeks. (Though after the previous chemos it took my immune system a lot longer than expected to recover so I'm bearing in mind that this 'five weeks' might stretch.) Even if it works, chances are that I'll be ill as I get over it - perhaps a couple of readmissions with infections. And I'll always be at an increased risk of other cancers, especially of the skin - will always need to wear suncream. An increased risk of cataracts too. Various other aches and pains. She didn't want to suggest this is going to be an easy ride!

'Transplant' makes one think of general anaesthetics but no. Chemo (and radiation?) will kill off my bones' ability to create 'my' blood cells. A transfusion will introduce 'someone else's' blood-creating cells. They will make themselves at home in my bones and from then on I will be producing 'their' blood. (I think this is it.) To go through this I have to be fit. My heart has been tested; and my lungs. And I'm walking. After more or less three and a half months in bed it was hard to get up the stairs when I got home. By 'going for walks' I'm getting stronger - ready to get knocked back again!

. . . And one of the places I walk is the People's Park. (I first told you about this park in December 2017 - A Parade of Bare Bottoms.)

In this urn dandelions and other non-planted plants have gone to seed.
I've never before met such a purposeful park. There are nearly always people striding out along the paths clearly for the sake of their health. Sometimes they are alone (maybe in tracksuits - tracksuits seem to be an early morning thing) often in groups. When I lived in Dorset I found myself getting irritated with joggers and runners. I'd be poking around in a bush to see what was living on the underside of a leaf and they'd pass at a steady trot, apparently oblivious to anything except their bodies. I'm trying to disentangle my prejudices. People who run - I admire. Just as I am stunned by the cross country cyclists in Yorkshire. So why I took against the keep fitters who lived near me, I don't know. It was something to do with changing the atmosphere of the place. Maybe it's because I guessed they were finding the track 'useful' rather than beautiful. But in this urban park, it feels very cheerful, people marching along and saying 'hello' to each other as they cross in opposite directions. Maybe it's because they seem very ordinary. They are ordinary people who want to be healthy and well. They are not a special race with water bottles. Meanwhile, there are others who come to sit and relax around the fountain which has water in the basin but none that squirts in the air. There's a little playground too - swings, a small slide, a climbing frame. There's something very purposeful about the way children play there. They don't hang around. They swing for a bit then leap off and run to the next thing to do.

Dead Nettles and Shepherds Purse in an untended urn.
Tell me, do you find yourselves reacting in a huffy or hostile way to people doing things in one place that you'd not object to elsewhere? Buskers might fit. There are good places to busk where the music adds to the atmosphere. And there are places where the same music would be downright irritating. Walking purposefully in a park is one thing. If I had to share the paths with joggers, that would be another.