Gilly was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia 18 months ago after having a variety of symptoms. She nearly died but 4 courses of chemotherapy put her into remission. The leukaemia recurred after 5 months and was treated with a bone marrow transplant.
After having a virus infection Gilly noticed a bruise on her leg then a swelling and blisters on her arm. She felt exhausted as if walking through treacle. She made an appointment to see her acupuncturist and herbalist the next day and phoned her GP for a home visit, by which time she felt disorientated, had palpitations and was going in and out of consciousness. The receptionist said they couldn’t send a doctor until the next day.
Gilly went by taxi to the acupuncturist, who took one look at her and sent her to hospital. Gilly described her symptoms, which now included photophobia so that she was covering her eyes with her scarf, and was immediately admitted and diagnosed with acute septicaemia, pneumonia and cellulitis. Later she was told she had acute myeloid leukaemia. She was given chemotherapy but within three days all her organs failed and she felt an overwhelming desire to sleep. She was moved into intensive care and told there was nothing more they could do for her.
Gilly spent 3 or 4 weeks in intensive care during which time she felt totally supported by the professionals and by her friends, and did not fear dying. She came back from the brink of death, was very weak and had to learn to walk again. She resumed her treatment with four courses of chemotherapy, each requiring a month’s stay in hospital. She complemented her chemotherapy with holistic treatments, such as reiki and massage, provided by the hospital. Her blood cell counts returned to normal and she was discharged after spending most of six months in hospital.
It took a long while for Gilly to recover and adjust to normal life. She received no rehabilitation services from the local authority and injured herself repeatedly by falling. She had six-weekly check-ups at the hospital. After five months she realised that her energy levels had altered and discovered that the leukaemia had returned. She spent 5 weeks in hospital then was discharged while they tried to find a suitable bone marrow donor for her to have a transplant. While waiting she was readmitted for 3 days because of an infected central line. When she went in to start the transplant preparation she was sent out again because her blood cell counts were not suitable. Eventually she went in for her transplant preceded by intensive chemotherapy. She is now recovering at home and takes a variety of medications to deal with the symptoms of rejection, which currently include a rash. She has a check up every week.
Gilly has taken no interest in finding out information about her illness and treatment, preferring to place all her trust in the professionals, both medical and complementary. Gilly has been gratified and overwhelmed by the support, both practical and emotional, that she has received throughout her illness from her wide network of friends and neighbours.