Today was the day that treatment started for 3 out of our group of 5 here in Moscow, the other 2 start tomorrow. My day started out a bit earlier than I expected. At a little past 9:00am, Dr. F came into the room and did the daily vitals, he then told me that the nurse would be in shortly to start my steroids. He wasn’t kidding, in less than 15 minutes I was getting stabbed with a needle and my steroids started dripping. For those without MS following this blog, the steroids given are methylprednisolone, aka Solu-Medrol in the USA. Almost everyone with MS has undergone this at least once and most people have some sort of side effects from them, common ones being headaches, extreme energy, and inability to sleep. My past experience with them started out with horrific vertigo, dizziness, and nausea and then that faded to just inability to sleep. So we will see how tonight goes, my problem times with these are always at night.
The neat thing about the meds here is that they come in a glass bottle as opposed to the bag most of us are used to, so rather than watching the bag gradually get sucked down, you get to watch the level actually drop in the bottle. Here’s what mine looked like:
I think my bottle finished in about 20 minutes or so, didn’t really pay attention to the time. Then the nurse brought back my pill container, right now it only has antacid pills in it that we are supposed to take before breakfast and dinner.
After that was done, Dr. F told me I was free to leave and go have fun for the rest of the day and to just ensure I was back before 11:00pm when my first stimulation shot was due to occur. So that is exactly what I did, I went and played the tourist role today and seen the well-known sites of Moscow.
Started out by heading over to the Metro which is really quite a walk, and hopped on one and rode it up to the stop near the Vega and met up with a fellow HSCT buddy and her hubby, she starts treatment tomorrow so was off all day. We rode it up to the Red Square stop and got off and began to enjoy the sites. Today is one of the only days we were able to see Red Square, it has been blocked off the past few days for preparations for the big parade on May 1 for some big Russian holiday and then next week it will be blocked off again until May 9th when they celebrate Victory Day with a huge parade and celebration. So during these times, Red Square is only open to tourists on the weekends.
We took in all the sites in that area. St. Basil’s Cathedral was the big thing I wanted to see and I did get to finally see it, and wow, in person it just is amazing, no words to describe it. We walked around the whole square and then decided to hop on one of the double-decker sight-seeing buses that drove around the historical part of town, it was a great way to see so many things and really saved the body from walking. And for most with MS, even if you don’t necessarily have huge mobility issues, after a while you start walking like a drunk, tripping over things, etc. So saving your legs is a good thing. It was a little pricier at 1200 Rubles, but that gives you a 2 day unlimited pass to use the buses as much as you want and covers the 2 routes the bus does. You also can get off and on the bus at the stops and wander around and just catch another bus. They also give you headphones so you can listen to the tour in your choice of 8 languages.
After the bus tour we headed to the Kremlin. They offer 2 tours there, an Armoury Tour (700 Rubles) and then the Kremlin Cathedral Garden tour (500 Rubles). The Armoury tour has set times when it starts and you need to have a ticket for that time, which is very tricky to get in person there, so if you plan to do it, book tickets ahead of time as they are pretty much impossible to buy from the actual booth, but there are ticket scalpers there that buy up many tickets and will sell them to you for 1000 Rubles. We however opted to do the Kremlin Cathedral Garden tour which basically you buy your ticket and you can walk through security and then into the garden area, no tour guide and you are on your own to explore. If you do bring more than a purse or small bag, they do require you store it in a luggage area, which is free, but easier to not have to deal with that. Once in the garden area you can see several old cathedrals that are just beautiful, along with old canons, the various Kremlin buildings, and beautiful landscaping. We are here in early spring, but I can only imagine how beautiful the grounds look when all the flowers are blooming. You can also walk through some of the cathedrals and the artwork in them is just stunning. Well worth the 500 Rubles.
After that we were all starting to get tired and the legs were getting a little crazy, so we headed back to the Metro and went back to the stop by the Vega. I said goodbye to my friends there and headed over to the marketplace in the old castle in that area, I still wanted to stock up on some gifts for people at home and that marketplace truly has the best selection of everything imaginable, except postcards, no place in this area sells postcards it seems, magnets however are all the rage and very plentiful. During the week the number of vendors was rather low, but on a Saturday it was packed with vendors, selling everything imaginable, including antiques and just random stuff like old cameras. Well worth walking around and taking in the sites. Here’s some pics from today’s adventure.
So my usual discussing of meals will be rather boring today as I only ate one meal actually at the hospital today and that was Breakfast #1, was gone the rest of the day and missed all the other meals. Breakfast today was some sort of a grain slurry, not sure how to describe it. In the USA there is a product called Malt-O-Meal, kind of a grainy breakfast cereal you can add water too, this dish was similar to that, but perhaps using some other grain. Considering some of the other breakfast dishes, this one actually wasn’t too bad. A hard-boiled egg and bread rounded out the meal.
We popped into a Subway fast food joint in the afternoon to grab a bite to eat, amazingly the menu was pretty much identical to ones in the USA. And then when I got back to the hospital I just munched on some protein bars and granola bars.
Normally my posts would end here for the day, but tonight was the start of the stimulation injections. They occur at 11:00pm and 3:00am. I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this, but it was pretty simple. Nurse came in at a little before 11:00pm and grabbed the alcohol spray bottle, did a couple squirts on my arm, wiped it down, grabbed the needle, stabbed it in, injected, sprayed more alcohol on the skin around the needle, put gauze on it, pulled the needle out, told me to put my hand on the gauze and away she went down to the second floor to dole out their shots. The first shot did burn a bit while it was injected, guessing she hit a blood vessel, I’ve learned when doing my copaxone shots in the past that if you hit a blood vessel it burns. That was it. My 3:00am shot was just as quick. Nurse opened the door, I turned on the little light by the bed, she did the whole routine again, and away she went, not a word was spoken, that took less than a minute from start to finish. That injection didn’t hurt at all.
I slept great from 11:00pm to 3:00am, but after that second shot, my steroids really kicked in and I could not get back to sleep at all. So I just laid in bed till 5:00am and then decided to get up and shower. But so far that is the only side effect from the steroids so I’ll take it! Onward to day 2 of steroids and injections!