No, I’m not talking about a new reality TV show mash-up.
I’m talking about these guys, familar to my Facebook friends from the time of my stem cell harvest in October 2012:
To recap: around about 800 million of these bad boys are currently sitting in a freezer in EastLondon, ready to rescue me when the time comes. This is the aforementioned ‘stem cell transplant’. As they’re my own cells, this is an autograft, affectionately known as an ‘auto’. If I was having someone else’s cells, that’d be an allograft or an ‘allo’. (If I ever write more about allografts, I promise to call it ‘Allo ‘Allo and write it in Fronsh). You should all get onto the donor registry: it just involves swabbing your cheek with a thing and sending it off somewhere. I will find a link and post it – or please someone else do. And, er by ‘you’ I guess I don’t mean you people with myeloma like me. You goddamn healthy people, I do mean you. Take five minutes and someone out there you’ve never even met might be given an enormous gift of extended life one day.
But back to the frozen warriors. I did have a little anxious thought recently that they’ve been hanging out in East London rather a long time. What if they’ve all gone native and started wearing skinny jeans, growing fluffy beards with short-sided hair and hanging out in Hoxton? Frankly, I don’t want a load of hipsters on fixie bikes riding over the horizon when I’m a wilting damsel in distress, I want terrifying medieval warriors on big f-k-off horses. I’ve since reassured myself that a) that’s probably not really their thing, just look at them and b) they’re in a seriously cold freezer. They probably don’t get out much. And all the hipsters have gone to Peckham.
For those of you more literally- and scientifically-minded, you might be interested to know that they were extracted from me by this amazing device:
I’m pretty sure the bag that looks like urine is the stem cells. But I may be wrong. I also can’t remember what the machine is called for sure, but it may be an apherisis machine. It basically spins all your blood round in a big spinny thing, and because different bits of your blood are different density, the computer-guided whatsit can then dip into just the right fraction and fish out the warriors. Clever eh?
This all follows a big dose of chemo and ten days of special injections to get your warriors (AKA haematopoietic or blood stem cells) all revved up and swimming about in your blood stream rather than chilling deep in your marrow, which is where they usually hang out where there’s no particular sh*t going down.
But how does your blood get into that monstrous contraption to be spun around, I hear you ask? And don’t you need your blood? Well, out one arm, back in the other (minus warriors). Or if you’re really lucky, maybe out of your groin. Here is a rather odd photo to demonstrate that of Yours Truly. Luckily, no groins were involved in the fishing of these stem cells. Head cropped both for anonymity and vanity (I was wearing a wig, after all) so apologies for that.
It took about four hours and I couldn’t move my arms or things beeped to tell me off. I had to keep squeezing that egg thing. I don’t think I ate the sandwich. I had to pee, that was interesting.
They were then whipped off in a dalek-like contraption and a special car to their current icy destination. There they sit, a bit like ready-meals of terracotta warriors. I think I got enough for at least two or three transplants.
So there you go.
Yours, educationally yet (hopefully) entertainingly,
Headless the Great xx
PS thanks for all the comments and emails and general encouragement, it really helps. With all the praise for my attempts at writing my head may soon swell so much I can’t fit my Viking helmet and I’ll be too big for my elkskin boots, but thanks. True thanks.