Today was supposed to be a free day for me for the most part, only requirement was to be present in the morning for Dr. F to come in and do the daily checkup, basically it’s blood pressure, listening to lungs, heart, takes pulse, looks in mouth, etc. But I had informed Anastasia earlier in the day that my menstrual bleeding had stopped for the most part, so I was cleared to finally get that pesky pelvic ultrasound out of the way. That ended up not happening until around noon. Now as a reminder, most everyone will have completed this in the original testing before getting an answer on treatment, I just happened to be on my period during the testing stage so it had to be put off a few days, no biggie.
Now you ladies out there that have had children recently most likely know all about the transvaginal ultrasound, commonly done in the USA during early pregnancy. Basically in order to confirm pregnancy they will do a transvaginal ultrasound between 5-10 weeks and then if you have a high risk pregnancy they may do numerous transvaginal ultrasounds to check cervix length, fun times. And then of course if they suspect something is wrong in that region of the body, your gyno may request one. Although if you are planning to freeze eggs for the future before this procedure begins you most likely will have several during that process. I myself have only encountered this type of ultrasound during pregnancy to measure cervix length. I opted to not freeze eggs prior to this procedure, I’m content with my two kiddos. This procedure can send you into menopause, hence the reason some people opt to freeze eggs, although several women have went on to have children naturally after HSCT, you never know.
So basically for the ladies this is probably the worst of all the tests that you have to undergo here. You go in the room, the lady promptly tells you to drop your pants and undies and lay on the tables with your legs spread, she then lifts up each leg and plants them down on the table where she wants them to be. So there you are, naked from the waist down, laying there with nothing covering you up. Back to the fact that any sort of modesty goes completely out the window here. Then out comes the probe…. They waste no time here, without any warning at all, they just shove it in and start moving it all around to the images they need. It most certainly was not the most gentle transvaginal ultrasound I’ve ever had, but tolerable. Then it’s quickly over and you get instructed to get your clothes back on and then they escort you back to the couch in the hallway to wait for your nurse to come retrieve you and take you back to your room.
Obviously the results were sent right to Dr. F because within a matter of minutes he was in my room to discuss the results. Everything looked good and so my treatment is still on schedule to start tomorrow. He spent a little more time discussing what would happen tomorrow and then he was off to tell a couple more people the good news that they were accepted for treatment and will be starting on Sunday.
So after all that I was free to do whatever I wanted to for the rest of the day. It’ll be the last day of true freedom before treatment starts tomorrow. I decided to explore Moscow a bit more via their metro system, aka their subway. Thanks to the parents of one of my fellow HSCT buddies here, I have a metro map and they also made me a set of directions on how to get to the nearest metro station. They said it was about a 10-15 minute walk to the station and they were right, it actually is quite a distance away from the hospital, easily walkable for me, but would be more difficult for someone with more mobility issues, the tram is definitely closer. But you could take a tram to the stop right before the road that leads to the metro. But the metro system here in Moscow is truly amazing, it’s a little dated but you can literally get anywhere in the city via the metro, and like the trams, 50 rubles ($0.77 USD) buys you a one way ticket to wherever, as long as you don’t exit the system, you can go wherever you want under there, cheap way to visit lots of their neat artwork and sculptures in the various metro stations. Downside is everything is in Russian, so you have to look closely at your map to figure out where you are going, counting the number of stops before your destination is the easiest way to do this. But if you get off at the wrong stop, no need to fret, literally these metros come by every 1-2 minutes, so there is no waiting period for the next ones. And the closer you get to the center of the city the more packed they are, as in standing room only. The further you get away from the city center, they are pretty deserted.
My original goal was to go a couple different places and look at some older buildings, but while I was riding on the metro I started people watching and it made me really curious about how the Russians in Moscow actually live. When you travel to a country, typically you see the sights and you don’t get a good glimpse into what life is actually like for those that live there. So I decided to do a loop on the metro system where I rode one line all the way to the end, then hopped on another and ended up connecting back to my original route to get back to the hospital. I stopped off at a few stations and went up to the surface and walked around a few blocks and really just wanted to take in the whole Russian culture. Things I observed today. Everyone here has iphones, people tend to dress fashionably at all times, women of all ages are obsessed with nylons and pantyhose, tight pants of all types are in fashion for both genders, nobody speaks any other language at all other than Russian and they still have payphones… But on a more serious note the people here are very friendly and compassionate. When elderly people would get on the metro, everyone would get up to give them their seat, people would offer to help them off/on the metro, people actually hold the door open for others at places and everyone here is very family oriented. In walking through areas that were predominately apartment buildings, most of them had giant playgrounds for kids and parents were out there actually playing and interacting with their kids as opposed to ignoring them and playing on their phones, which is what everyone does here in the US. People were actually sitting down places and having real conversations as opposed to being focused on their phone the whole time. It was an interesting experience actually just exploring around the city and watching how the people here actually live. While Russia may look like a poorer country in many ways, the people here do make up for it. They truly are happy and loving life, the news does not give an accurate portrayal of this country at all. And I will say I traveled around Moscow today alone and I speak zero Russian and had no problems, felt no fear, felt completely at ease the whole time. I’m glad I spent my time exploring the real Moscow, the touristy stuff can wait for another day. A few pics from my day.
Now back to the daily food posts. I only actually ate 2 meals here today, breakfast #1 and breakfast #2. The first breakfast was about the norm for here. An oatmeal type dish, yogurt, and bread. This oatmeal concoction today was a bit more appealing than some in the past, I easily downed the whole thing. Breakfast #2 was a chunk of beef, a hard-boiled egg, and 2 cooked apples. I didn’t take a picture of the second breakfast because I was off doing my pelvic ultrasound right after it showed up and when I got back I was hungry and ate before I could take a pic. But here is breakfast #1.
I skipped lunch because I wanted to explore the town, but I made it back to the hospital in time to get dinner, but it never showed up. Where I’m at right now in the hospital there are 3 of us in this little section and the other 2 ladies are gone for the night and I’m guessing the food gals seen their doors were locked and just turned around and headed back, so I made up my own dinner. I brought a few packs of microwave mac and cheese as backup so cooked up a pack of that and had a Clif bar and some other snacks with dinner. Not the healthiest but it worked.
So that was my day. Treatment starts tomorrow!!!! I’m excited but yet nervous at the same time. The first phase of treatment is 4 days of IV steroids and two stimulation injections each day. Steroids are given at 11:00am each day, stimulation injections are done at 11:00pm and 3:00am. Yes you get woken up at night to be given one of these injections, the price you pay to try and rid yourself of MS… So 11:00am tomorrow the fun begins, we’ll see how I react to the steroids….