MJN
Posted by
MJN

A stitch in time

MJN
Posted by
MJN
13 Nov 2014

What can you do in 6 weeks?

Time ticks by. Our lifestyles and jobs dictate which units of time mean most to us; for mums the number our hours of minutes until the next school run; for builders the weeks left on a job; for shift workers the balance of days and nights; for students the number of hours until the next night out; for MPs the number of moments before the next half-truth slips in the ether….

For teachers the measurement of time is complex and compounded by the constant shifting of Easter. Indeed the placement of Easter in the calendar can make or break a year. You see, a half-term is a basic measure of time in the school year and can vary by 3 weeks or more. If a half term is measured at 5 weeks then this is simply too short an amount of time to impart the requisite learning about what the Romans did for us to have adequate impact so surely a 7 week half term would be more beneficial, but no. After 7 weeks everyone is fried and the learning has stopped embedding itself in tired brains and besides, how much is there to learn about aqueducts? 8 weeks? Don’t get me started.

Ofsted used to visit on a 3 year orbit around a giant sun of fear but now the pattern of predicting their arrival is less astronomy and more astrology. “Hello, is that the Ofsted galactic helpline? I was wondering if we’re likely to get a visit whilst the moon is in Venus’ second house or if it’s safe to book a trip to Whitby?” If you set up such a line, you’d make a killing.

But by far and away the most important period of time in the school calendar starts in July and Ends on September 1st – the 6 week summer holiday, because 6 weeks is a long time.

Day +21 today – 6 weeks since I was first admitted for transplant and overcame the initial stumbling block of infection – that’s right folks, an entire summer holiday in the same room. 5 weeks since the old line was removed and the new one was put in. 4 weeks since they started bashing my old immune system into submission and 3 weeks since several little bags of pink cells were introduced to my blood on what has become known as my second birthday. Since then I have been poorly again – dangerously so at times – but with the care of those looking after me and a fair chunk of willpower, I’m back on my feet. So where is my body heading today?

To compare it to a normal person’s body, it’s operating at reduced capacity but it’s running pretty well. The all-important neutrophils  (the body’s defence against infection) have fluctuated but are now pretty high, actually around a normal level, although their powers are very much reduced by the immunosuppressant drugs which stop rejection. Positively though, I’m not totally defenceless and I can look at stilton cheese once more without the fear of combusting.
My Haemoglobin which carries oxygen to the body is very low – about 60% of normal – so I get tired easily and the platelets which help clotting are about 20% of what you’d hope for so you can see it’s a long rebuilding process which will be aided by rest, exercise and good food once I’m released.

In 6 weeks my body has undergone what is widely regarded as the most brutal medical treatment that a human can withstand, such is the magnitude of the change, shock and subsequent adaptation required to survive and begin to thrive. It’s right at the beginning of a 2 year path of rebuilding, reintegrating and developing into a single body built from 2. Presently I’m like an infant from an immune point of view and in a few months’ time I’ll go to a doctor for childhood immunisations like MMR and I’m now once again exposed to chickenpox, common colds and stomach bugs in way that I haven’t known for 33 years. That’s quite a shock to someone who never got ill before all of this.
In short my body and I have to learn to defend me all over again so if you haven’t washed your hands, you’re not coming in. 6 weeks of lying down has left my muscles wasted and weak and I know for the first few days simply ascending the stairs to the bathroom will require planning and a degree of gritted teeth. Walking to the shops will seem like an expedition.

In a primary school, the single biggest change you see in children takes place in the first 6 weeks of school life for the 4 year olds. It staggers me year on year to see how a group of individuals, some of whom literally could not point to their arse or elbow, are nurtured by teachers with endless patience and evolve into little people who are beginning to think for themselves, walk in a straight line, question their place in the grand scheme and discover how the world will treat them all in 42 days.

The next 6 weeks mark the start of my new journey - the Consultant has just arrived to tell me if I’m ready to take my first baby steps…..

Comments

Anonymous
13.11.2014

Hi Mark, reading today's blog makes me almost see you trying to jump around the room you sound that positive! All at IHOM thinking about you-can you believe that at the end of next week the stage goes up for 'nativity' rehearsals!

Take care.

Anonymous
13.11.2014

Walk on Nobby, you can do it ! We're all behind you x

Anonymous
13.11.2014

Here's to lots of rest, exercise and definitely huge and vast amounts of good food once you're released. You are an amazing inspiration Mark and Ali is just the best xxx Rachel, Andy and Sam

14.11.2014

Another brilliant blog Mark!

After your setback in the previous blog it's great to hear that you're back on the road to recovery and knowing that you're now out and enjoying a bacon sandwich at home is absolutely fantastic - I look forward to reading the blog (after you've had some well earned rest of course!)

Your story has really captured the hearts of us all at the charity and your blogs are some of the most well read on the website. Keep up the good work!

I've been where you are now and it should get easier from here but as you've already alluded to in your blog there will be a few bumps along the way as your immune system is like a small baby's and you're starting from scratch. However, we're all right behind you and every day that goes by you'll get that little bit stronger.

Enjoy your first weekend at home.

Anonymous
14.11.2014

Hooray, hooray, hooray! So happy for both of you, what a difference 6 weeks can make. Nearly made me cry with relief and joy that you have made it though your isolation (even 6 weeks in one room would be a challenge, let alone the real reason you have been there!). So glad that you and Ali can move on with the next stage in the comfort of your own home, but knowing the constant support of the 'Noblet Army' is always there right behind you both - (ask Ali about the Army if she hasn't explained it!).
Lots of love from Katy, Gary and Chloe xxx

Ellie Dawes
17.11.2014

Oh my gosh, a whole summer holiday in one room sounds like such an enormous amount of time! Especially as us non-teachers only remember these summer holidays from when we were kids when they felt like they lasted for aeons. 

Andy told me this morning that he saw from your #FeelAlive Friday tweet that you're back home, we're so thrilled to hear that! Wishing you lots of rest and recovery over the weeks to come. Also, good work getting back on the stilton in time for Christmas - festive essential. :)

Anonymous
17.11.2014

Whoop! Fabulous news Mark. Enjoy every minute, meal and comfort of home. X

Anonymous
18.11.2014

Fantastic news Mark! Home at last! We're all thinking of you and supporting you! x

George smiling, wearing a bow tie and silly hat for New Year 2017/18
19.11.2014

Time flies when you're recovering from a transplant...

Really enjoying your writing, Mark. Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous
19.11.2014

Hey Mark.
I'm very late catching up with your blog but it has been amazing, moving, and amusing to read! Your journey and your strength are mind-blowing. Delighted to hear you are home and hope you've mastered the trip to the kettle!
Sending you big, big love,
Lucy xxx

Anonymous
20.11.2014

Mark

Your dad gave your blog address to the Guardians of the Galaxy one night in the pub. (Is the groups name understated??). Its so pleasing to note that you are out of hospital and starting on the road to recovery. With that in mind, I felt I had to pass on my tip for nutrition, one that will have you pawing the ground in no time, bellowing like a demented cartoon bull. Its simple, pigs liver, full of iron and oh so tasty (you'll have to check if its safe). I ate pounds of the stuff when a starving student. So many recipes but the favourite was to place the succulent fried liver and onions on a barm cake, brown sauce optional. A friend and I thought of setting up in competition to McDonalds, suprisingly it didn't happen, perhaps I could approach Dragons Den to back us?

Anonymous
22.11.2014

Keep up the positive approach buddy - you really are an inspiration to us all! Thinking of you and Ali always xx