AiF Health No. 21. Postcoid asthenia: how to restore strength after an illness 16/11/2021
People who are being treated for cancer are struggling not only with the disease, but also with the fear surrounding the disease. After all, many still even the word “ cancer '' and 'leukemia' pronounced in a whisper. This enemy & nbsp; and our heroes declared war & shy; nya, a resident of the Bryansk region Irina Furseeva .
How the diagnosis came about
Irina's illness, discovered in February 2020, like many others, was preceded by stress. Even two. One was associated with personal life & ndash; the middle sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, another & ndash; with work. After 16 years of service in one place, Irina had to move to another unit. She was torn between a new job and a home, three children, was very nervous and more often sick. Another cold lingered on. Low-grade fever, weakness, sweating did not go away. The doctors suspected pneumonia, although it was not visible on the CT scan. Blood test counts were lowered, but not significantly, so doctors blamed everything on infection. But one day, already in the regional hospital, where she was sent for a consultation with a hematologist, she donated blood again. When the result came, there could be no doubt about the diagnosis. “ The diagnosis sounded like a bolt from the blue. Life stopped and then flowed like in a rolling dream '', & ndash; Irina recalls. But by that time everything was fine: a happy event was expected at my sister's health, at work – a joyful event – eldest son's wedding. And then there was leukemia. '' “ Be careful what you wish for! & ndash; Irina now warns. & ndash; Only state positive things. ''
Irina was urgently hospitalized on the same day, had a bone marrow biopsy (found 71.5% of blast cells) and on the third day began chemotherapy. & Nbsp;
The family was and remains the main support for Irina.
Don't feel sorry for yourself!
Treatment for acute leukemia cannot be postponed. An insidious disease develops very quickly, but does not give characteristic symptoms & ndash; similar to asthenia after infection, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression.
The first course of chemistry lasted 45 days, the following (6 in total) were shorter. 'One of the' chemistry ' dripped around the clock, & ndash; Irina recalls. & ndash; I had to be tied to the counter with the medicine, sleep together, go to the toilet. I called her Tamara & ndash; “ Tamara and I are a couple. '' & nbsp;
Our heroine is sure: we must not lose heart. And, no matter how hard it is, you need to get up and move, overcoming the loss of strength, sweat with hail, nausea. Even when it was impossible to go out into the corridor, Irina walked through a tiny one-seater box: 10 steps – ndash; there, 10 & ndash; back. 200 & ndash; 300 steps per day & ndash; already good, otherwise after “ chemistry '' muscles can atrophy.
After the second course of chemotherapy Irina fell ill with COVID-19. Any infection is dangerous for a hematological cancer patient, because “ chemistry '' deprives the immune system.
The treatment worked. But & ndash; doctors immediately warned & ndash; relapse is possible. Irina was not offered bone marrow transplantation (BMT), but she went to Moscow to the National Medical Research Center of Hematology. It turned out that a transplant was needed, but a donor was required. Siblings are checked first. & ndash; siblings. Irina has two sisters, but the middle one could not be a donor due to oncology. Therefore, the genetic analysis (typing of blood cells to find out the compatibility of tissues) was made younger. Her biomaterial was 100% suitable for Irina! “ When I found out about this, there was such euphoria that I did not even feel the procedure of a bone marrow biopsy (a thick needle is pierced through the breastbone), & ndash; Irina admits. & ndash; But the doctor warned, TCM & ndash; not a panacea, but the continuation of treatment. Sometimes patients undergo 2 to 4 BMT. But I believed everything would be fine, and waited for the transplant like a New Year's child. ''
It seems to be successful
The sister, who in childhood was afraid to even donate blood from a finger, boldly went to the procedure. She donated blood from a vein, although there is another method in which bone marrow cells are taken from the pelvic bone under anesthesia. To stimulate bone marrow cells to enter the peripheral blood, the donor needs to inject a special medicine twice a day into the shoulder, and the third time into the abdomen (to prevent thrombosis). But the sister is thin, and Irina is rather large, and in order to have enough cells, the sister had to donate blood within 3 days, and not 4, but 6 hours each. All this time, you cannot move your hand where the catheter is located. It was not easy, although the staff did their best to make the donor comfortable. The BMT procedure for the recipient is much simpler and shorter, no longer than an hour. Everything takes place in a sterile box, where there is a conventional transfusion of donated blood through a subclavian catheter. A week before, the patient is given high-dose chemotherapy to completely kill his own leukemic bone marrow. Before the procedure & ndash; “ day of silence '': no manipulations are carried out, they are given a rest. & nbsp;
An increase in blood counts indicates the effect of transplantation. This usually happens pretty quickly. But Irina's numbers began to grow only on the 25th day. After BMT, patients should take immunosuppressive drugs for some time to avoid rejection of donor cells.
Not everything is going smoothly
After discharge, it was very scary to find myself without a sterile box, without constant monitoring and support from doctors. She was afraid even to walk from the sofa to the toilet, everywhere it seemed that germs were ready to attack. And the infection was not long in coming. After recovering, Irina developed GVHD (graft-versus-host reaction), which resulted in problems with the liver and mucous membranes. GVHD occurs in almost every other case. Many people confuse it with rejection, but in fact, this is how the immune system attacks foreign cells. Doctors say that such a reaction, on the one hand, is harmful, but on the other -; even helps in the fight against leukemia: immunity at the same time destroys the surviving tumor cells. & nbsp;
To 'lapping' immunity and foreign cells went smoothly, she had to take hormones, after which Irina gained 20 kg, which is now gradually getting rid of.
“ I turned 45 on October 16, 2020, & ndash; says Irina, & ndash; and on October 23rd there was BMT. Therefore, this year I will celebrate 45 + 1. I have now begun a different life, which I am rediscovering. '' Irina pleases not only the very opportunity to live, love, be with children, but also those who grew up after “ chemistry '' new, curly hair. She is happy that she can squat down again (and it was difficult to walk before) or eat what she wants. Although there are many limitations after BMT. There should be no pets and indoor plants in the house, contact with the ground is prohibited, a diet is required. You can only boiled-boiled, nuts, mushrooms, berries, cabbage are prohibited. All permitted vegetables and fruits must be peeled and poured over with boiling water (even bananas). Irina ate the first candy with nuts a year later. Cakes are still in my dreams. & Nbsp;
But there is also more important that the last fateful year revealed to her. Irina became a Peer Consultant. This is the name of people who, with their experience and support, help others to go the path that they themselves had previously traveled. The patient can become a peer consultant in hematology oncology six months after BMT. Irina wanted to be a peer counselor to learn more about the disease. But, having got acquainted with other patients, she realized: if then, at the very beginning, she had come across such a person, it would have been easier for her to survive the ordeal that had befallen her lot. Irina dreams of becoming such a person for others. And she also wants people to stop talking about leukemia in whispers and considering it a fatal diagnosis. She knows & ndash; it is not.