A bloody mystery, salad days and pork pies (Part 26)


The equivalent of around three bags of blood has gone missing from my body.

Needless to say this came as a bit of a shock yesterday.

Since being discharged from hospital on Monday with the viral chest infection I've been feeling a little drained and run down.

I also found it hard walking to the shops without getting out of breath.

But I just assumed all this was down to my body slowly recovering.

On Thursday I came back over to Rotherham hospital to continue with the Photopheresis treatment for Graft versus Host Disease.

Merry Christmas from the photopherisis team!

Blood samples were taken but the levels of my haemoglobin - the substance which carries oxygen around the body - came back alarmingly low.

And it was all going so well too!

Once again I was being taken really good care of by the staff in their festive attire. Tea, biscuits - even a fresh fruit salad with cream was knocked up at one point. Salad days indeed!

But then those numbers came back.

Any leukaemia patient will tell you that they become obsessed with their 'counts' - the measure of how well their bone marrow is performing.

I described all this in previous posts but if I am to be grateful for anything it's that post transplant my new bone marrow has been producing healthy levels of red blood cells (which contain haemoglobin), platelets (which stop you bleeding to death) and white cells.

It's one aspect of my treatment that has not been a problem.

Normal levels of haemoglobin in healthy males range between 13 and 18 (grammes per 100 millilitres). Mine had been stable at around 12 for weeks so I've not really had to think about it.

But from Monday to Thursday it had dropped from close to 12 to just over 8.

That's a lot in a very short space of time.

Just as a rough guide, a hospital bag of blood (around 300mls) will boost your haemoglobin count by one - so you can imagine how difficult trying to get by with the best part of a litre missing can become.

As I've said before (God, I'm tedious) my background is physiology and I know that even if this drop was attributed to the infection it's just too much to lose over that time period.

Frankly, I was cacking it.

So what else could have caused it?

The answer, it seems, lies with the Ribavirin therapy I received to treat the chest infection. One of the side-effects listed for some patients is haemolysis - the breaking down of red blood cells.

When this was explained to me I did feel a little more at ease because at least there seemed to be a logical reason behind what was happening.

I could also understand that a couple of bags of blood would be a good solution and should see me right for Christmas.

But now a bigger problem emerged - when was I going to pick up my pork pies?

The splendid stand-pie from Shepley butcher Gordon Dyson

It's so difficult sometimes living your life from week to week, never knowing what lurks around the corner and being unable to make any firm plans.

I have tried to embrace this new existence so no longer get annoyed when the plans you do make have to go out the window yet again.

Immediately when faced with these snags my brain now turns to how they can be worked around.

For example, today I had to finish off some Christmas shopping in Sheffield and then head over to Gordon Dyson's butchers in Shepley, Huddersfield, to pick up some magnificent pork pies. They are amazing if you haven't tried them.

The original plan was to have the photopheresis and then complete all those tasks later in the afternoon. Get home and pick up Poppy from her work's do - also in Rotherham.

The counts were too low for photopheresis treatment this morning so kindly the staff at Rotherham ordered me up two bags of blood - which I know from previous experience takes quite a few hours.

This gave me enough time to shop and then return to Rotherham for the transfusions.

Each bag takes around two hours so I should be done by 7pm. I decided writing this would help pass some time while my new A+ blood drips slowly into me.

The transfusions should boost my energy levels and make me feel tons better. My counts should also improve so that I can come in to complete the second photopheresis treatment in the morning.

Please nothing else before Christmas!


Well, I tell you what, Ad, you know how to stop a girl feeing sorry for herself! Here I am quietly bemoaning a Christmas and New Year spent offshore, and there you are just trogging on as ever, through setback after setback. So my early New Year promise is to love it out here - cos there's lots worse places to be!
Anyway, enough of that - THANK YOU! to you and Pops for my amazing Christmas card - santa over the rig - love it!! It's in the centre of a shrine to Christmas on my wall - I'll send you all a picture!
I'm going to miss you all very much on Christmas Day, but as I say, new positive head on to match yours, and I can't wait to talk to you all. Have a fantastic time this weekend chez Giblets and enjoy - don't let Poppy get too close to the sherry bottle and all the rest on the whisky! lots of love, Helenxx

Way to go Adrian.Nothing like a bit of blood to perk you up. Have a lovely Christmas xxx

What a bu....!
We are connoisseurs of pork pies so beam us up a piece of Dysons please! Lots of love Uncle Brian and Aunty Lucy

Dear Adrian

May your days till way after Christmas be totally and absolutely boring on the medical front!

And please post more pics of those pork pies - they look totally scrumptious!

Here's wishing you a wonderful, peaceful and happy Christmas.

Love and light
Steven's mum

Hello Adrian

There`s never a dull moment with leukaemia,is there?Hope you managed to pick up your pork pies and that blood has done it`s job.
Your blog titles are getting more and more surreal! Was instantly gripped!!
Your Hb level has been maintained amazingly well - that`s really good.
Here`s to a happy Christmas for you and your family - no more dramas now!
Best Seasonal Wishes

A butchers in Shepley. My my, how you've changed.
What's up with that farm shop in Netherton you turncoat.
They do the best Cornish pasties in the country (there is no scientific evidence to prove this, but it is a fact).
Anyway, see you're still rattling about with the cancer thing, but frankly meat and pastry-related items are much more my sphere (see earlier giant faced picture) - will you be launching a new web log (note - no contraction of the words) for you more ravenous readers.
If you want to win any more awards then you should think about diversification.
If not a pasty/pie/growler (southerners and middle classes; look it up) chat site, how's about one on festive pork related products - ie stuffing, them little sausages, bits of bacon etc ad infinitum
I think we should be told.
Have a good Christmas Sudders and all the best to Emma aka Poppy aka Pops aka Kate Middleton/Chelsy Davy!

I hope that the transfusions make you feel a lot better!

Is that a giant pork pie or a carnie plate? I was going to say you should have been holding it to show the true perspective but with your giant hands that probably wouldn't have helped!

Hope the blood does the trick and you and Pops have a very Merry Christmas.

Thinking of you.


It's one thing after the other for you isn't it? At least there always seems to be a logical explanation for everything that is happening at the moment within your very busy body! I hope that the extra blood you've been given helps you to feel a bit better in time for Christmas.

Best wishes to you and Poppy for a happy Christmas. And best wishes to you both for 2008 - I hope it will be a much better year for you.

Julie x

Hi Adrian

I was really inspired by your blog and congratulations on your recent award. Thanks for making me smile.

I am a freelance development producer, I come up with programme ideas for television and radio programme for all of the main broadcasters in the UK.

I am currently working on an idea exploring illness and death and looking for someone who could be the main presenter. I think you would be brillant.

I would love an opportunity to discuss this further with you.

If interested please contact me on simonepennant@aol.com.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Happy Holidays and my very best wishes


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Adrian Sudbury published on December 21, 2007 8:43 PM.

Out again and replies to readers (Part 25) was the previous entry in this blog.

Merry Christmas to everyone! is the next entry in this blog.

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