T + 564 Having My Head Examined

I had my first trip to the transplant clinic in six weeks on 24th March and it was a fairly routine visit. My consultant decided to leave my ciclosporin as it was for the time being but when I return on 28th April she will look at starting to reduce the dose slowly. She said it could take as long as six months or even a year to get completely off it which was a bit longer than I was hoping but better slowly and effectively than too quick and I end up with a more serious outbreak of GVHD.

I had the second round of my childhood vaccinations after seeing the doc. My third and final round will be when I return on 28th April. That day will be a double clinic visit as I will also be seeing my endocrinologist to review my thyroid levels and maybe look at how I can reduce my hydrocortisone tablets and persuade by adrenal glands to take up the slack.

Overall I have been doing pretty well. My energy levels are good most days though mornings are often a bit of a struggle until the tablets have kicked in and my hormones have sorted themselves out. My skin still is in quite poor condition but twice daily applications of a good moisturiser helps and when I get the occasional outbreak of blemishes signalling a bit of GVHD activity two or three days of intensive application of Betnovate steroid cream quietens it all down.

On the 31st March I had a meeting with my line manager and someone from HR to discuss the findings of the company medical advisors' report I had done a while ago. It was all very amenable though I did have to correct the person from HR talking about a "return to work plan" because as I pointed out I have been back at work full time since January 2009, just not in the office every day. I suggested we call it a "return to the office" plan. The plan HR suggested was that I remain on 2 days a week in the office for another three months then increase it to 3 days for a month and review it and if it goes ok then do a month on 4 days and finally a back to full time.

This is of course all subject to how I get on with reducing my ciclosporin and perhaps more importantly my hydrocortisone but it is a reasonable time frame. In fact I am planning to start going back to the office 3 days a week somewhat sooner as I do enjoy being there and I might as well make good use of my newly acquired car.

Meet Martha

Having recently come into a little money by way of a former company pension fund being wound up I decided the time was right to get a new car. I'd had my previous Smart Car, Arthur, for four and a half years and he was starting to get a little expensive to run by way of repairs etc.

Aside from that though I have been very happy with Arthur and even after all that time I still found him fun to drive. Therefore I had a test drive in a new model Smart Car. They have made a lot of improvements and upped the specification of the various models including things like aircon as standard across the range.

I took possession of a silver and red Smart Four Two Passion on 25th March and since she is obviously just Arthur in drag she was named Martha.

Brain Scan

The other day I finally got round to doing something I had been trying to arrange for quite a while. Namely having my head examined. (Not a moment too soon I hear you cry.) This particular examination however was conducted by my friend (and erstwhile work colleague) Christian who is now conducting research for his PhD in Neuropsychology.

I offered to be a participant in one of his studies. ( They used to say a subject in an experiment but now they have gone all PC. ) This involved being set up with 128 electrodes in contact with my scalp to measure the electrical activity in my brain. I then had to conduct a series of tasks involving moving a cursor on the screen by means of a joy stick towards various coloured targets while my brain waves were recorded.

Christian is investigating the involvement of the Posterior Parietal Cortex in the creation of motor plans for target acquisition. I.e. when you are presented with a number of possible objects to reach how does the brain decide which one to get and then instruct the muscles to move towards it. ( The motor plan). That is probably not quite an accurate explanation of what he is doing but I'm sure he'll put me straight if he reads this blog. ( Which he never does ;o)

It was an interesting couple of hours and below is one of the traces for my brain. As Christian says, if you want to look at this way, here are my thoughts captured in a snapshot.


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