The treatment

23 05 2011

It has been some time since I last wrote. Either because I was too busy being sick or too busy enjoying the less sick days.

Once the specialist know whats wrong with me, he started me with a specific type of chemo regimen. Its called Hyper CVAD. In summary (according to Wiki), “the term ‘hyper’ refers to the hyperfractionated nature of the chemotherapy, which is given in smaller doses, more frequently, to minimize side effects. ‘CVAD’ is the acronym of the drugs used in courses A and B. CVAD (Cyclophosphamide, Vincristine, Doxorubicin (also known as Adriamycin [brand name]),and Dexamethasone (the D in hyper CVAD- this last one being a steroid)). The other part of Hyper CVAD is Methotrexate and Cytarabine. The protocol was originally developed to treat leukemia in young, fit and ambulant patients, but has since begun to be used more widely.” There are also Intrathecal (IT) insertion to my spinal cord (also called spinal tap affectionately by doctors) at every cycle (8 planned in total) to inject the chemo medication to my  spinal canal (intrathecal space surrounding the spinal cord), and not to mentioned the painful bone marrow aspiration (BMA) at every start of the chemo cycle to see the latest blast count and effectiveness of the previous cycle exercise.

Hoyeah.. at least the doctor considered me as young, fit and ambulant.

I initially checked in to Hospital Sultanah Aminah (HSA) on 4th April 2011. Bringing my reports from Johor Specialist Hospital (JSH), the hospital admitted me to a class 3 ward, Ward Dahlia. Standard procedure I guess. I spent overnight before I get to see my hemothologist specialist, whom then transferred me to his specialised ward, the Hemotology Ward.

The ward is much much better than in ward dahlia. Everyone here is getting the same room and treatment either you registered as class 2 or class 3 patient. Theres no patient here registered as class 1. I’m not sure why. And the only difference class 2 and 3 here is the way the serve the food to us. Class 3 in blue trays and class 2 in proper plates and cups. But the attendant sometimes got confused and mixed up the settings. Oh well.

The building is sitting proud on top of a hill, sandwiched between the Monash University Campus (still within the hospital compound), and overlooking a magnificent view of the Tebrau Straits and Singapore. It’s very peaceful here and no wonder it used to be the royal and 1st class ward. Sound effects of the birds and ‘unggas’ provided a resort or forestry feeling while staying here.  

I registered as class 2 patient as I used my wife’ s guarantee letter. She is a teacher in a government secondary school. Chatting with a university mate whom visited me recently, we reminiscent how we actually planned that as we choose our spouses, one would work as a government servant and one in the private sector. To enjoy the best of both worlds.

Indeed we had, I had better pay while my wife enjoys better job security. My company provided private medical benefits for the whole family such as unlimited outpatient treatments at panel clinic and claimable if the treatments were from a non-panel clinic, and insurance coverage for specialised treatments. She had the benefit for public medical coverage, housing and car loans and other public servant benefits for our family including here parents.

The hemotology ward was built-in 1929 initially as the royal ward. Sometimes later it was converted into the first class ward and now becomes the hemotology ward. It is a two storey building with day clinic at the ground floor, and on the 2nd level there are 8 room s with 2 beds each. Theres a ninth room with 3 beds slightly bigger than the rest of the other rooms used as isolation room in case of chronic of infections and there are risk of infecting other patients. Every room had their own toilet and every bed has their own sink and clothing cabinets. Its like staying in a cutting edge 1st class ward during post independence 60’s.

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