Both her and Dr F (as you can imagine by now) were PHENOMENAL. They did the paperwork that was asked of them, even though it was not 'normal'. I should have been their easiest person of the day.... I know there were 4 people having their Chemo and Dr F had 3 STEM CELL TRANSPLANTS that day...on top of all the other procedures that he is ALL OVER.
You may have read on my Facebook page how he calmed me down....
He came in to do normal 'obs' and knew I was S.T.R.E.S.S.E.D....(I'd already cried with Anastasia)...
He took my hand (he always does when taking blood pressure), he stares over his mask quite intensely and says:
"Mary - this is not a problem. You no longer have MS. THIS is your victory. Do not let this travel worry you after you have been so amazing and bright.
WHAT IS THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN? You stay with us another day? Is this so bad??
YOU NO LONGER HAVE MS. You will do work to improve your established symptoms and maybe they improve.
Today??!! THIS travel worry - this will NOT be what you remember of this experience."
And how right he was! Now I am home - all I think about is the AMAZING TEAM AND THE AMAZING, AMAZING, AMAZING experience I had.
The care I received was like nothing I can describe, the love, the different experiences (chemo days versus transplant day versus isolation etc)...the other patients, the carers, the POSITIVE attitude of EVERYONE....the process, the 'no fuss/no muss' attitude of everyone..etc. Apart from Crappy Chemo Days (okay - and maybe some of the meals) - ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING WAS POSITIVE - EVERYTHING!!
If there is ANYONE reading this blog that is wondering "Will I / Won't I" look at Russia....all I can say is PLEASE DO!!! You are not obliged to do or pay anything until you get to Russia and you can remove yourself (if for some insane reason you wanted/needed to) at any time. The waiting list is LONG so at least get yourself on the list - then research like crazy; fundraise etc - BUT GET YOURSELF ON THE LIST!
If I can pay this forward to you...then that's my advice!
I travelled alone, I did 'all my myself' with no Russian language or experience and I was unable to walk anywhere ... and I did it! (Mind you I NEVER felt alone, the language barrier was NEVER a problem, I always felt supported, I met the most fantastic patients and carers) so I feel like MY timing was perfect....I felt at peace, calm, happy.
But I digress - so on Thursday morning, I had my discharge meeting with Dr F which was wonderful - apparently I am SO NORMAL - WHO KNEW??!!
I asked LOTS of questions about precautions and he was onto everything.
(I must add...we were talking about precautions at home etc and I asked about our pets so he proceeded to whip out his phone and show me picture after picture of his ...15kg CAT!! Talk about break the tension. We were in fits. OK - I concede - Russians are funny...)
I gave my Russian letters to those I had written to, along with guardian angel pins, gave Dr F some UGG gloves; Anastasia a beautiful leather band with an Aussie Pearl (thanks to Leskes Jewellers Port Fairy); and cake for everyone! Plus some cash to a few...felt pretty great giving $1000 rubles out willy-nilly...(which incidently is $20)... :)
Alexey (driver) came to collect me just after noon (I still didn't know if I was able to fly) but Dr F and Anastasia said "we love you but ...JUST GO". My Aussie friend had also actually handled things AMAZINGLY WELL so unbeknownst to me, all was well. It was 4 degrees when I left and it snowed that day.
Alexey and I got to the airport and check in was a breeze - cruised through customs and was popped into the Business Lounge....they were so accommodating - no one even asked for a medical record of ANYTHING even though I was in a wheelchair, masked up etc.
The flights were divine (Business Class). My first flight had only 4 of us in Business Class so I even took my mask off for a bit. I ate the food (that was HOT) and enjoyed (probably) too many coffees and Godiva chocolates!!
Dubai was my 'fear' as I had a terrible time on the way over, but again - no drama. They met me at the plane in a wheelchair and again, took me to the Business Lounge. Poor old Dubai. They popped me in the lounge and the lady said DO NOT MOVE and we will come for your at 1.20am. So...I didn't move...1.20...1.25...1.30...1.35am...I starting waving down people that had wheelchairs but none had my boarding pass...(slight panic)...then 'my guy' came and whizzed me through to the gate...LAST ONE TO BOARD. Not happy Jan.
Fortunately/unfortunately the plane was full so there was still a LOT of mucking around before take off so I was well and truly settled before we took off....and again a lovely flight: 8 hours sleep possibly being the highlight!! (Lying flat with a mattress and pillow) OMG! I'm ruined for economy class forever after...
And then just like that I WAS TOUCHING DOWN IN ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA!!
I started to cry just at the prospect of seeing Piper, Andy and Mum and Dad. People who know me...I fixed up my make up (remember - I have on a mask, hat and glasses)....and the staff helped me out of the plane, through baggage collection and customs in record time....and then I was out!
I saw Dad first and then everyone but of course they had to wheel me away from where everyone else was trying to get out so they wheeled be 'out of the way' before I could hug everyone. It was beautiful. I'm tearing up now just thinking. I had Piper on my lap, we were all crying and laughing...I was home.
We had a night in Adelaide as I had my Haematologist appointment on Friday (great guy seeing me on his day off) so we went to our Hotel in Glenelg and just caught up....it was DONE.
Ok - take a breath...