That’s it.  Today’s bloods show a small decisive increase in my neutrophil count.  Here are the numbers…

May 23rd: confirmed 0.00/L  (units are in billion cells per litre)

May 24th: tentative 0.03/L  (with the concern that we might still be going down – the counts are not absolute and anomalies can occur.)

25th May (today): 0.05/L   (This is accepted as a positive as it’s the second rise in a row)

The normal range is 2.2 – 6.3/L, and I have to get into that range before leaving hospital.

So, I’ve dropped down one steep side, bumped along the bottom for a few days and am now starting back up the other side.  Climbing’s always easier than descent, and I’m ready.  In fact the contrast between yesterday and today in terms of how I feel is dramatic.

The last few days’ temperature spikes, sweats and shivering fell away; the chest infection has matured but is stable though still coughing; the mucositis burning throughout my gut has eased away, apart from a sore stomach but its not cramping anymore.  I have a persistent moderate headache.

I cheated at sleeping last night, taking half a Zopiclone sleeping pill and I notched up certainly 8 hours despite the repeated nighttime wake-ups for Obs.  What bliss.  I’m about to do the same for tonight.

The day passed by ok – busy with treatments and test as usual and more sleep.  But I’ve felt increasingly better for sure, and this afternoon I made myself laugh.

It happened at 4pm when I went for a pee and realised I wasn’t dizzy or folded up and so I did some standing stretches which felt good.  I tried the 8 Brocades but they made me immediately light headed.  So I started to pace the small amount of open floors space beside the bed, back and forth a few times, but it’s a 6 x 6ft L-shaped 4ft wide corridor really, so walking is

1, 2 pivot left, 1, 2 turnaround,  1, 2 pivot right, 1, 2 turnaround, etc.

Hopeless.  So I thought I’d try some tight-rope walking to give my balance a little challenge.  Fine but then quickly realised that to make the most of the small distances if I put each foot directly in front of the other, touching heel to toe, then I could get in lot more steps, and a lot more balancing before reaching the next turn.  Yay!

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 pivot right, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 turnaround  etc

And then I realised I could go further.  If I followed the outside limits of that L shaped space I could do even more.

So I did that for a couple of circuits and suddenly realised I’d invented a game – it’s called

Foot Dominoes

This is how you play:

First, choose a place in your room – it can be big or small.  You’re going to move carefully around the outer-limit of that space.  (I used the 6ft x 6ft L-shape of floorspace around the side and the end of my bed.  Against the walls are various obstructions like a sharps bin, a general waste bin and a wall mounted wash basin, so it’s not a simple L-shape but this makes it more interesting).

As in dominoes there are rules, but I don’t have to describe them because they are almost the same rules as dominoes, minus the spots.

Each new footstep has to contact end of the other and can either go straight on, turn 90 degrees left or turn 90 degrees right.

Choose a corner of your floor space to start in so it’s clear where you end.  Then you move off in a forward-facing direction, keeping perfect balance, moving as close as you can to any wall or doorway or bed or chair or bin or wall basin. You’re now stepping the boundary of the space.

When you meet an obstruction (a wall, a bed, a sharps bin, whatever) you can only make 90 degree turns and there are three simple side steps to choose from:

The turning foot has to meet the planted foot

1) side of turning foot to planted toes

2) heel of turning foot to left side of planted foot

3) heel of turning foot to right side of planted foot

Strictly there are two options for each of 2) and 3) because if you feel agile you can place your turning heel to the heel-end of the planted foot rather than the more manageable toes-end.

Turning corners can be quite challenging if you end up on the back-foot, and this puts a nice stretch on the rotational flexibility of your joints and spine.  The feet lead and when you’re balanced and ready you carefully pivot your torso round to face forwards again…

This is a game of balance so you can’t make turns holding onto things for support.  Obviously grab something before you fall down, but you want to aim to complete the circuit with no dab-downs or hold-ons if you can.

Use your arms wide for balance where you can, but this changes when you get to a wall because you have to keep as close to the wall as possible (your foot-line will be probably about 40cm out from the wall – less for more challenge), and in order to keep your balance you need to hold your arms differently and maybe twist your torso a bit.

It’s actually quite good exercise (at least for someone in my condition – poor balance and weak limbs, no food for some days!).  The slowness and concentration of moves takes it towards some of the Tai Chi I’ve been learning.

Want to be competive?  You have to fit in the maximum number of steps for the available space and complete that circuit with zero dab-downs or hold-ons.   Once you’ve mastered it clockwise, try going the other way round.  Or try starting from the same point but on the other foot.

What about doing the circuit stepping backwards?  I’m not even sure that would be possible.  I’ll report back.

You can try this at home.  You don’t have to wear the white knee-length pressure socks, that’s just my thing.  Put some music on and let it all go…