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26 Oct 2014

Sleeping in hospital is an odd thing because it doesn’t really happen. With the constant flow of drugs and fluids being infused and the regular need to have your blood pressure, oxygen levels and heart-rate monitored, there’s barely an hour a day when an alarm isn’t going bong or someone wants to stick a thermometer in you. Thankfully it’s in your ear otherwise you’d never sleep.

Sleeping tablets can help and offer a kind of absence rather than sleep in that you’ll often find that a few hours have passed when you think you may have been asleep but you’re not entirely sure. One thing is for sure, when you get out you never again take for granted a great night’s kip in your own bed.

My target for being released on grounds of good behaviour is about 3 weeks from now when hopefully my new immune system will have “engrafted” enough into my body to begin to provide a good defence against bugs and nasties. In preparing for the new cells, the chemotherapy and radio treatments wiped out specific immune cells and those counts are currently dropping fast. The standard measure for how vulnerable you are to infection is described as your “neutropenic state” and looks at the number of white blood cells present in your body. A normal healthy person will have between 2 and 5 units of neutrophils; at the moment I have0.32 and this will continue to drop right down to zero. At this point the new cells can start to develop with less risk of rejection as my own defence system has been wiped out and therefore can’t respond.

In a previous blog I explained how the body would release cytokine showers to decide what the new stem cells will become and in a few days this awesome process will hopefully begin in my bones and blood so that new neutrophils will develop and begin to fight off infections.

In the meantime I’m totally vulnerable hence having very few visitors, absolutely no sniffles and a fastidiously clean room – a cold for you could become a very serious infection for me and I’ve had enough of those. Some people hear the word isolation and picture all sorts of bio-hazard, Ebola suits but it’s really just a case of making sure everyone who enters the room is as clean and healthy as possible. You know I like a good fact so here’s today’s – my room has as “positive pressure air filtering system” which means the air pressure in my room is always higher than outside to ensure that all airborne contaminants are pushed outwards. That’s clever.

So if three weeks is my target, it gives me 21 days to fill and to be honest, it’s not exactly rock and roll in here. There’ll be landmark moments to report on and times, no doubt, of stress and worry but hopefully the brilliance of the medics will keep me on track and I’ll do what I’ve been doing all along and beat the odds. The record to get out is 16 days from transplant. I’m eyeing it.

In the meantime, what to do? Well here’s a challenge that took up a few hours over the last few days. Ok, it’s taken up virtually all of the last three days and driven me mad.

I’ve called it Catch 22 based on the idea of an outdated technology – the cassette tape. I’ve always loved sound equipment and, as Alison will attest, I love to have the latest gear. When I was 14 I begged to have an ALBA twin cassette stereo with graphic equaliser, 6 speakers and high speed dubbing for Christmas. It was way beyond their budget but my parents offered to buy it as long as I agreed to hand over all the other money I’d asked for from relatives. The mugs. I’m pretty sure they knew what would happen because I distinctly remember having enough cash to go out to buy some fairly massive headphones that, nestled amidst my rebellious barnet, made me look life Fozzy Bear, and a stack of TDK C90 tapes to facilitate musical piracy on a grand scale.

Every evening I would sit in front of the mighty ALBA, record button and pause pressed in tandem, determined to make a perfect recording of the radio top ten. A scene no doubt repeated the nation over with frustrated kids annoyed at their failure to stop in time to cut off the DJ announcing the next track.

The ultimate act of commitment regarding the broadening of one’s musical horizons was the creation and swapping of a mix tape – a time consuming labour of love and a skill long lost in today’s world of streaming and iTunes. A good mix tape could take a week to put together and still be open to much debate when discussing playlists in the school yard. Nowadays I can stream via Bluetooth any of the 5000 songs on my phone and listen to them through the car’s sound system – we’ve all got a radio station in our pocket which is great but where’s the fun? Where’s the challenge? 5000 songs on cassette would be bigger than a car and that’s where Catch22 comes in.

On a C90 cassette, you’d typically fit 22 tracks, 11 on each side.

An hour and a half to capture your life in music because that’s the challenge – to reduce all the music you love to just 22 tracks that define you, be they joyous, evocative or whatever. 22 tracks to define you.

Here’s my Catch22 – a labour of love – and I’ve given reasons for each track which you don't have to.

MJN's  Catch22
1. Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin – The first song I ever heard that made me go oh, yeah!
2. She Sells  Sanctuary – The Cult – One of the great intros, bridges the 70s, 80s & 90s
3. Dance Tonight – Lucy Pearl – An album given to me by one great friend that I’ve shared with so many
4. Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi – No night out or in is complete without the all-time great squawkalong
5. Vertigo – U2 – Perhaps not their best song but the greatest opening to any gig I’ve ever seen. Epic.
6. Feelin’ Groovy – Simon & Garfunkle – Memories of Dad’s record collection after mass every Sunday
7. Mumbai Theme Tune – A.R. Rahman – Watching the sunset with your best pal, beer in hand
8. Alright – Supergrass – Sums up my time at 6th form. A few scrapes, but we’re alright
9. The Riverboat Song – Ocean Colour Scene – One of the defining riffs of the 90s. Air guitar perfection.
10. I Believe in a Thing Called Love – The Darkness – Roadtrips in an old Peugeot 205, sunroof leaking
11. I’d Do Anything for Love – Meatloaf – Rock tour de force, epic video, everyone knows the words
12. Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana – The definition of teen rebellion, memories of a friend
13. She’s Electric – Oasis – House parties, camping holidays and one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen
14. Suspicious Minds – Elvis – Karaoke. Nuff said.
15. Let Me Be Your Fantasy – Baby D – Raving it up at the rugby club and for years later. Classic.
16. Hide U – Kosheen – A famous tune. A little known band. Amazing live gigs with Alison. Just us.
17. The Chain – Fleetwood Mac – Discovering that the F1 theme tune is a rock classic! Must hear more!
18. Sex On Fire – Kings of Leon  - Shout along, dance along, drink along modern classic
19. Gimmie Shelter – The Rolling Stones – Because you absolutely, positively have to move like Jagger
20. Nessun Dorma – Pavarotti – Italia ’90. Sport’s greatest theme. Ironically means “None shall sleep”
21. More Than Words – Extreme – It’s hard to imagine a more perfect recording of a love song
22. Fight Like Fury – Brian Dunbar – It picks me up off the canvas and hey, it is my song

So that’s my Catch22. There will be some incredulous head shaking I’m sure but when it comes down to it, I could have written a Catch100 and still been going. Even now I’m thinking, no room for Queen? Aerosmith? Is it too old school? Should there be some more dance or hip-hop?

Is this basically a longer Desert Island Disks? Yes it is. Is it cooler though? Damn right it is, so send me your Catch22s when you’re done. I’m looking forward to the number of times I wonder why I didn’t include this or that track. Just so you know, my list is 90 minutes 15 seconds long so the end of Meatloaf will have to get cut short. Doh!

Email your lists to marknoblet@hotmail.com  I may even announce the best alternative at a later date. 

Nigerian Princes and Oil Sheiks looking to stash their cash need not apply.

If you've recently been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma and have yet to receive treatment you could be eligible to take part in a new clincial trial. Read more here.



Happy Birthday Mark, may you get stronger every day and I will email my catch22 at some point or at least get my husband a fellow stem cell transplant patient of three years ago tomorrow! to do his! Keep fighting the good fight you're doing great.


Catch 22 is on it's way friend.

I await merciless ribbing for a distinct lack of "cool".

Ellie Dawes

Here are our choices! It was a very tricky process resulting in several strongly worded emails but I managed to hone it down to 22 just before everyone began emailing each other insulting animated gifs. 




Another great blog, Mark.

This takes me right back to my own time in isolation after my transplant. It's a really frustrating time and there is always a slight nervous anxiety as you await that first healthy white blood cell but it will come and when it does the end will be in sight.

I love the fact that you've kept your sense of humour up and I can completely sympathise on the sleep part - the thing that drove me mad was the beeping whenever you had to unplug the drip to go to the toilet! That and the morphine meaning that occasionally I didn't know which way was up. I tried to keep my dose as low as possible so that I could get out as quickly as possible and I imagine that yours won't be too high either given how lucidly you're writing!

Great idea on the song list - coming up with 22 songs that really do mean something to you really is much harder than you first think. You've got some belters in there and I'm glad that someone else went with an O2 number - mine was shot down from the worklist but will be making the grade on my personal list when I get round to it!

Keep your spirits up and thanks so much for posting all these blogs - they're great to read and are extremely useful for others who are about to go through a bone marrow transplant. Looking forward to the next update.


Hi Nobby
Hope you are doing ok pal..
this has take a bit of deliberation, and I'll probably change my mind in 2 minutes time, but here we go

1. You shook me all night long – ACDC.. Ancient but still love it
2. Last Nite – The Strokes..off one of the best debut albums ever
3. Baby I love you – The Ramones..was going to be our wedding song, but then Chantelle from big brother and Preston nicked it as there’s it had to be ditched for credibility’s
4. I’d do anything for love – Noblet & Dunbar , beautiful http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/headingleycricketclub/videos/quality-stuff...
5. Don’t stop me now – Queen, first band I saw live, Elland Road 1982 FFS, feelgood.
6. We built this city – Starship, great memories of a rugby tour to Florida a million years ago.
7. Wild Horses – Rolling Stones – no particular reason
8. Valerie – The Zutons / Winehouse / Hinks & Everett. Just love it.
9. Just Can’t get enough – Depeche Mode, classic 80s. still sounds great, top live song.
10. Run – New Order – brilliant album, memories of a few trips with wifey pre kids, it’s 25 years old now
11. Suspicious Minds – Elvis, as stated by yourself Karaoke classic, but what a tune, my first car came with an Elvis tape in the tape player, it got me listening to him, what a guy.
12. The Sound of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel – the sound track to a return road trip from Northern Spain through Andorra and the Pyrenees as the sun rose a long long time ago.
13. The KLF – what time is love. Featured heavily on a 1990 mix tape for a very eventful lads holiday
14. Jarvis Cocker – Don’t let him waste your time, great track of a Jarvis solo album
15. Gwen Stefani – Great Escape, previous singalong favourite in the car when the kids were smaller and would sing along, now I just embarrass them.
16. Example – Kickstarts, pop with a retro feel, good fun live.
17. Otis – Jay Z, Kanye ft Otis Reading, blame Jezza
18. Touch Me – The Doors, from a more (or less) innocent pre savile era, and memories of Linz dragging me around a graveyard in a bitterly cold graveyard in Paris looking for his grave before we asked a gardner and found out that we were in the wrong graveyard.
19. The Stone Roses – She Bangs the Drum, great album and just need to get my Manc quota up.
20. Runaway train – Soul Asylum – from the aforemention Paris trip, was being played on a very heavy rotation on MTV back when MTV played music.
21. David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust – Genius, and you have to say David Bowie in a David Bowie styleee.
22. Lou Reed – Satellite of Love, another timeless amazing album.


Hi buddy,
I'm thinking about my catch 22 - will get back to you when I've sorted it. Great idea and you certainly have a gift with inspirational writing!!
You're doing good
Take care x


This is tricky isn't it... I started at the beginning, going back to when I was little, and worked through to now... so it's a funny mix of stuff that was important at various times, but not necessarily all awesome music... so I'm going to just hang on and have another look at it with fresh eyes before I send it over to you :-) It's a goooooood challenge. Cx


hi mark , happy birthday to you sir keep the good fight going my friend and you WILL succeed , my best wishes to you , and heres your record for today . step by step , joe simon , its a fantastic northern soul song so KTF ===