The term déjà vu is French and means, literally, “already seen.” Those who have experienced the feeling describe it as an overwhelming sense of familiarity with something that shouldn’t be familiar at all.
After a comfortable flight of a eleventy thousand hours I arrived in Moscow to a not so balmy -8.5°c / 16.7°f. Nice.
It’s been a true sense of déjà vu because I never really expected to be in Moscow again, let alone having HSCT again, but here I am.
A comfortable 50 minute* ride from the airport to The A.A. Maximov Hematology and Cell Therapy Department of the National Pirogov Medical Surgical Centre with the hospital driver, Vlad.
The Moscow traffic is CRAY. *2+ hours.
Warmly greeted on Level 3 by friend, past patient, patient advocate and Dr Fedorenko’s assistant, Anastasia and I was shown to my room #323 where I’ll be for the next month. Different but familiar, the rooms have been refreshed and the same patterned linen is somewhat comforting.
I connected to the wifi (first things first), made. few calls then unpacked and bam, I was weighed and measured and had an EKG – business has begun with some friendly staff faces of 2014 coming by.
Dr Fedorenko popped in, greeted me warmly and quickly put me at ease. We spoke briefly and he assured me with an adjusted and tailored protocol we will put the MS monster to bed once and for all. In speaking with him a few things were clarified and others still need to be detailed.
Here’s what’s clear…
1) I am the first international patient to return to Moscow for a second transplantation.
2) He has performed this second procedure on only 4 Russian patients.
3) The second transplantation was successful on all 4.
4) I will have only 3 days of chemotherapy, and one infusion will be into my spine (FUCK – but he said it’ll be pain free).
5) He said that together we’ve got this 100%.
So obviously I’m good with all of that, aside from the back thing but I wouldn’t be here again if I didn’t trust him and the process so I’ll worry about that when the day and time comes and take all of the drugs possible.
I slept early – so unlike me going to sleep at 7:30pm, only to be woken and told that there was some incident in the boiler room and that there was no hot water (like I cared at the time). Woke again at 12am and 3am and then 6am and by 7am it was action stations! Urine samples, blood samples (8 vials) from 3 attempts… they get the vein but then I have no blood, even though I have good blood pressure it’s always been a problem, but no biggie.
I imagine I feel like a pin cushion, if a pin cushion had feelings.
I then met Tash from Canberra, who was released from the isolation phase of treatment today. She’s a star and doing so well. You can follow her journey here My Race to Russia. I met her husband Ben too, who’s finding the cold challenging but is being a super support to Tash and a sherpa for me and keeping me with a modest stock of Coke Zero (DC is yet to be found).
My bed isn’t as comfortable as I remember, and in mentioning this to Tash she suggested I ask for a 2nd mattress to lay atop the existing one. Christ on a ship it’s 1,000 times better. Not like home better, but better.
There’s only a dusting of snow on the ground, it’s sticking and more is on the way but not any solid cover yet.
In 2014 I first shared a room and changed rooms 3 times including up to level 3. Like I said previously the room I’m in now is where I’ll be for the duration.
OMG the food is worse than I remembered. Am trying but have not immersed myself into the culinary delights of the hospital yet, don’t know if I will. However new on the scene today was cheese and macaroni pasta, just not together and never sighted in ’14.
Chatted to the parentals today too, they’d been out for lunch – Mum’s birthday, and Dad told me that the food was great but service was slack. I suggested he might want to trade places. Humph.
Anyhoo, I’ll manage.
My spirits are good and tomorrow should be a comfortable day with only the *meeting* with Dr Fedorenko scheduled to receive my test results and the proverbial green light to move forward to ridding my body of this active MS BS.
Love ‘n hugs,