A.J. Walker

Multiple Sclerosis etc

A Non-Tea Infusion & The Pressure

A Welcome Drip and An Unwelcome Pressure
(or '
The Drip & Assumption is the Mother of')

Following my acceptance into the less than exclusive Covid Club I'd been inundated with texts and phone calls from the NHS (automated), GP, and from local NHS service teams. After sending the PCR test on Friday I got sent a text reporting the positive result to me on Saturday night. All very efficient. I'd been told previously that I may be able to get one of a couple of treatment options due to my MS. The options were tablets (a five day course) or a single half hour infusion (drip). I am not entirely sure on the true nature of the risk from Covid to someone with MS as opposed to someone without it. Indeed I expect the biggest risk from an episode of Covid to me would be the danger of it kickstarting a relapse. It is well documented that being at a low ebb, be it from illness or stress, can be a contributory factor to relapses. And so whilst I am not feeling that bad at the moment from it any treatment options which could spare me the unknown effects of a relapse had to be welcome. If I was offered the choice I would go for the infusion.

Yesterday morning I had a phone call from a local service team who asked a few questions about the Covid and when I first had symptoms etc. I was a little unsure whether it was Monday afternoon or the early hours of Tuesday when I first felt something uncomfortable at the back of my throat – and subsequently the ridiculously runny nose. But I said Monday, not thinking 12/24 hours would make much of a difference. By the end of the call though it did sound like I may have talked myself out of the treatment option as that would make it the seventh day since contracting it: the treatment needs to be taken very early doors (ideally within 5 days of infection) to be most effective. She asked though whether I could make it to a treatment centre if the clinical decision was made to give me an infusion and I answered in the affirmative. I was told if they hadn't called me by 4pm then to call them to chase. As it happened I got a call by 12:30 and was told to go to Garston Treatment Centre for a 13:30 appointment.

The Procrastinator at Garston Treatment Centre

An hour after the phone call then I was sat on a soft blue chair in a small white room being asked a few questions, and in no time I was put on the drip. I was put on
Sotrovimab (Xevudy) which is a 'neutralising monoclonal antibody', which apparently works by sticking to a spike protein on the surface of the virus, which stops the virus getting into the lungs and causing infection. The cannula was inserted first time and the drip did its thing (dripping) and half an hour so later the bag was empty and I guess I was fuller. Having had the treatment the risks of any infection getting so bad I could require hospital treatment are significantly reduced. In short it was a few hours well spent on Sunday afternoon.

The after effect of a hole in the arm. Well you wouldn't want to see the cannula in place.

Whilst I was there my O2 stats were taken and I was passed a monitor to use at home; I don't get to keep it, it's just a loan for a couple of weeks to take a fortnight of measurements. Before going I was a bit worried about the O2. I mean to my knowledge I've never had Covid before, but what if I had and just didn't know? What if the O2 results showed unbeknownst to me I'd been significantly impacted? I needn't have worried the results were normal (between 96 and 99%). And have continued to be 98 or 99 since I've monitored at home. I'll get a daily text from the NHS asking to forward the O2 result for the day, and I have a table to keep the records of three readings or so a day. Being able to record it provides at the very least some peace of mind.

I read some of my current book, '
Homage to Gaia' by James Lovelock, and the nurse seemed genuinely interested in it, writing the title down to look it up. Hey, I'm an influencer! Couldn't get much reading done during the hour and half there. There were the questions, the arm taken out by the infusion, the general chat and the regular blood pressure observations. But I got some reading done. However the blood pressure records were important. I've had medication for elevated blood pressure for years, but since the MS diagnosis I've taken my eye of the ball with it and not been taking the tablets (Amlopodine) or monitoring it; partly because of my focus on the MS/Copaxone but mainly because I've lost quite a lot of weight and got significantly fitter since becoming a drayman nine months ago. With this compounded ball of assumption & hope I'd decided I probably didn't need the pills any more. I've never been a fan of pills really. Okay, I may not be a fan of pills but I am a firm believer in assumption being the mother of fuck up…

The monitoring over those ninety minutes yesterday made me restart on the
Amlopodine as soon as I got back home – I think I've only got about ten days supply left over from when I stopped. I'll also start taking daily blood pressure readings from here on in so I've got records to give the GP as I look to get back to tablet popping. It nicely links in with the Gaia book too, as James Lovelock, in the chapters I'm currently reading, is going through several health travails (coincidentally his first wife suffered badly with MS for years).

When I got back home I had a phone call from a different Liverpool hospital. They '
had my medication ready' – what medication? 'The Covid treatment.' I told them I'd just been for the infusion. It appeared due to the involvement of the GP and the general NHS system there had been two routes progressed in unison without one trumping the other. There is so much going on with it then there is a danger that it must happen a lot, especially with time being of the essence. Well no tablets for me now. I was offered both the tablets and the infusion then; much better than being offered neither.

It's been a strange week. I have hardly left the house. But I've not felt too bad throughout and I expect the treatment can only help reduce the effects & risks. Waking up on Monday I still felt okay. Not going to do an LFT until the afternoon. I can't wait to see that dreaded line get fainter and then disappear. I took my
Amlopodine after my first (essential) coffee - and I'll take my blood pressure later. Today will have included a Copaxone injection to my left leg, an Amlopodine tablet, an LFT, O2 measurements, and blood pressure monitoring. It sounds a lot when you write it down (it's the long words), but it's not really. One pill (daily), one injection (3 times a week), and some measurements. After all if you've got the measurements you can dispense with the assumptions.

Incidentally, the wonderful James Lovelock is 102 and still very much with us.
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