The Secret Illness

I've had a weird couple of weeks. Something happened and I decided to keep it out of the public realm. It's been the first time since my diagnosis that I had a serious hiccup and didn't write about it in the moment.

There is a difficult balance between being candid in my blog and maintaining some privacy in my life. Even two and half years on, I haven't quite got that equilibrium right. Honestly, I think I was a little embarrassed to be unwell again. Nothing quite compares to what I went through before, so it makes everything else seem insignificant.

So, I've been off work for two weeks and spent a week at Whipps Cross Hospital, my local. Before admission to the ward, I had been stuck in bed with a really high fever. Strangely, I didn't have any other symptoms. I was just insanely hot and nothing seemed to cool me down.

Many ex-cancer patients will agree with me on this one - fevers are terrifying. When I was undergoing chemotherapy, it was drilled in from the first day that any sign of fever meant an urgent visit to A&E. Now, off treatment, it was very confusing. All of those negative feelings came flooding back with every increase in my temperature.

Without the complications of chemotherapy, a trip to A&E was not necessary, but I knew I needed some medical intervention, so I booked in with my GP. Considering the complex nature of my medical history, the GP insisted on being cautious and referred me straight to Whipps Cross Hospital.

Within the hour, I was needled up, having blood tests, swabs and cultures taken, and on intravenous antibiotics. Next came the waiting game. It takes a very long time, especially when in a small hospital, for these results to come back. I spent the next four days on the Acute Assessment Unit while the tests were analysed and my fever was controlled.

The plot thickens, however... While all of the blood cultures and swabs came back negative for any sign of infection, my blood levels went haywire. Haemoglobin, platelet and neutrophil levels (all pretty vital components!) plummeted. These cells are produced within the bone marrow, so it's suspected that these changes are linked to my stem cell transplant a year ago.

And that's the story. I'm out of the hospital and back at work. My blood levels are steadily increasing, my fever is gone and I feel almost like nothing happened. I'll be meeting with my consultant haematologist, Dr Virchis, in a week, but I'm still not entirely sure what any of this meant.

It just serves as a reminder that although I've made it through my treatment, there are lasting vulnerabilities that I need to take care of.

Joshua Lerner

Hi! I’m the 'star' of Livin' With Lymphoma. The blog was founded on the 31st October 2013, on the day I was diagnosed with Stage 4B Hodgkin's lymphoma. I hope you find it funny and informative.

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