Tag Archives: germs

The Sniffles



Stop what you are doing right now

I have a cold. I am talking bogies, phlegm, sneezes and a lost voice, sort of cold. Well, I do not have it now, I had it two weeks ago, but I did not think to tell you about it at the time because it as just a cold, and unless you are an attention seeking weakling, a cold is not a big deal. Everything about my cold felt familiar, which is to be expected given the fact that I am 29 years old and I thus have been around bugs and other peoples’s snot for 29 years. You know what I am talking about, the colds, they are pretty common.

With this cold, my first cold post transplant, I did not want to create a fuss, why would I? After all the side effects I have experienced, I actually find the symptoms of a cold quite pleasant, for they do not distinguish my body from everybody else’s the way everything else does. You know what I experienced with it, because you have had one too, there is nothing sinister about a blocked nose and a croaky voice is super sexy, unless you cough something up with it.

In my mind, having a cold was good, I have longed stopped washing my hands when I touch a door that is not in the compound. Opening up my body to some lesser bugs, builds up my immune system, right? I do not want to live in a protective bubble. I am far too lazy and far too restless in equal measure.

Even though I thought my cold was no big deal, from others, I sensed panic. Oh my gawd, beware of the snot, she has cancerrrrr and a compromised immune system! At first I was told to monitor it (I went and sat in rooms full of strangers and air conditioning instead), then I had to postpone my counselling because other cancer patients do not like colds, and then, I got quarantined and put on antibiotics as a precaution. Normal people don’t get that, they get Lemsip or the supermarket equivalent if they are feeling thrifty. I experienced vigilance.

So the moral of this story is that I cannot just have a cold. I cannot suffer in silence. I have to ring a bell and wear a sandwich board, and winter is coming…. Sniff, sniff.


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Precautionary Measures

As I try and get on with the meaning of life, I am ever aware of the fact that I now have to take certain measures to ensure that I am not struck down with hysterical diarrhoea again or a bad bug of bad bugs. Post transplant, I am ever aware that I have to be cautious when it comes to all things germ related. I can confirm that this is caution is tedious. Everywhere I look, everywhere I go and everything I do represents potential danger. So imagine what it is like in London.

If I am not careful, I could develop a complex. If I am not careful, I could experience something that is less than pleasant. It’s a catch 22.

The caution is not from the unexpected (https://ejbones.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/hand-washing/), a stem cell transplant does compromise one’s immune system after all. Everything I read prior to my transplant told me that my immune system is now pants.

Wash, wash, wash, they said. Be clean, they said. Avoid disease, they said.

* Wash your your hands wherever you may go, before you do anything and after you have done it
* Do not put anything dirty in your mouth
* Do not go abroad for 12 months
* Only eat food that is dead of all things, not just the obvious
* Do not eat reheated food
* Do not let somebody sneeze into your mouth
* Do not lick the seat of a public toilet

The list goes on and on of course. And on. Fortunately for me, and I am trusting their judgement on this, my Medically Trained People are not as rigid as my Internet research implied. I am back on the raw cherry tomatoes for example and that is a marvellous thing. If I think that is marvellous, imagine what I thought when they said I could go abroad, not too far, three months after my transplant date. On this subject, I am playing it by ear.

I do not know how much of a threat coughs and sneezes actually are to me. My bloods are back to normal, but I swear at ten points in my recent history, I was told to avoid the coughs and sneezes for they spread diseases, but then just the other day, I was told that I was being needlessly cautious.

The dilemma!

There is a part if me that wants to be overly zealous, and live in a plastic bubble of cleanliness forever and ever and ever, and who disinfects after and during every encounter with Bruce. The other part of me wants to stick two fat fingers up and myeloma and my transplant and suck down a dozen oysters in rebellion.

In reality, I am doing neither.

I cannot help but see a threat to my health in almost everything now. As a thumb sucker, this new approach to cleanliness, is cumbersome to say the least. I stroke the dogs, I was my hands. I come in from the outside, I was my hands. I just lurve washing my hands. I carry antibacterial hand wash in my handbag. I really do. I draw the line at the face mask, despite having some hidden in the mess that is my bedroom,

If it was just my hands, that would be one thing, but it is not. Germs do not restrict themselves to hands. In my life to date, I have very much thought that exposure to germs is a good thing. I have not licked any toilet seats, but when it comes to food, for example, I have always thought that a little bit of germ exposure builds the immune system. Unless I was catering for somebody, I would never was my fruit or veg, well, apart from the leek, for those things are muddy. Now, if I want a strawberry or currently, the overly priced fancy cherry tomato, I have to wash them and dry them to eat them. My current preferred method is the sieve. A sieve? I just want to eat them. I have never understood people who wash an apple and then dry it in a hand towel. I understand now, they had all undergone immune compromised treatment as well.

I may have accidentally tasted a few prawns a weeks so ago, and reheated a soup, and ate some cold meat, but prior to doing this I did wash my hands. A day later, I experienced some unpleasantness from the bowel. Was it just a coincidence or did my lack of willpower let me down? We will never know, but the paranoia ruined the experience of eating these things in the first place. The propaganda worked. I was suitable scared and now for the foreseeable future, I will have to be sensible. Yawn in my face why don’t you.

More excitement is to come. I have to have a flu jab. The question now is, when does this have to stop? Can I have a follow up question? Okay. When is enough, enough?

And if you have managed to reach the bottom of this blog, I think the word count alone is a testament to my anxiety, either that or I need an editor… I clearly am a sucker for the propaganda.


As for now, be clean little ones. Be clean.


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Preparation II

Based on previous advice from the Medically Trained People https://ejbones.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/priorities-an-update/, somebody has had a super special wash to rid him of evil germs. He also got a new face, for a treat, just like my manicure…All courtesy of Mamma Jones of course for I do not have a tumble dryer and my hairdryer is temporarily on loan.

Unlike me, EMan is not looking forward to our vacation. He doesn’t appreciate the drop from the hospital bed to the floor. The arm cannot reach there… Any fall may also necessitate another shower and prolonged separation.


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Hand Washing

A myeloma sufferer nearing their transplant date has many things to worry about. I can say this with the greatest authority, for I am a myeloma sufferer nearing her transplant date.

My greatest worry at the moment is not the 2% mortality rate, the high probability of mouth ulcers and lava like shit or the weight loss. Oh no, my greatest worry is how the hell I am going to remember to wash my hands in my new immune system-less body.

I have been told that I need to wash my hands after I have been out in public or handled money, before I prepare food, before I eat food and apparently after I have gone to the potty. Okay, I knew the last one already, and almost always did it.

In my adult life, I have strongly believed that one should expose themselves to some germs. I thought it made me strong. Sure, I washed my hands after I disposed of my waste or handled raw chicken, but that was my limit. Anticipating a world where I have to wash my hands after I shake somebody else’s does not sound like a fun one.

I am a thumb sucker. I love the comfort I get from it, but it’s not going to taste very nice covered in antibacterial hand wash is it?

Am I going to have to start opening doors with my elbows? Should I wear a mask in public? How much does hand wash cost? Is there a cancer benefit for people who are medically required to wash their hands more? How dry will they get from all this washing? Will I need a bigger handbag to accommodate the hand wash and moisturiser I’ll have to cart about with me? And what if I wanted to taste somebody else’s lollipop? Will I have to buy my own?

I have never licked a door handle, but knowing that I can now never lick a door handle seems unfair. I feel like I have missed out.

It’s a can of dirty worms.

Fortunately, I am pragmatic. If I need to wash my hands like an obsessive, then I will. I have enrolled myself on an intensive hand washing course. Apparently, every time you wash your hands you have to wash between the fingers and the wrist with soap for at least 10 seconds. I will find out whether I passed in June.

Wish me luck. I’m reaching for a First.


Antibacterial hand wash is not a sufficient substitute for soap and water. Medically Trained People are advised to use it twice before washing. True story.

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