Treatment Part 5 – Lemtrada 2 Electric Boogaloo

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Posted By Scott

With the uncertainty of Lemtrada being investigated behind me, 2020 would see me get the second, and hopefully final, stage of treatment. 

Pre-Flight Checks

As with the previous treatment, I needed blood and urine tests plus a chest X-ray before being admitted to hospital.  On January 3rd as the country came back to life after the festive break, I was at the QEUH once again.  After a year of monthly blood tests, I was an old hand at having blood taken so no issues there.  This has certainly got me over my previous fear of needles!  The chest X-ray is also a very quick and painless process.  All tests came back good, so it was all systems go for Lemtrada 2 in the middle of February.

The five weeks from getting tested to treatment starting crawled by.  I was just ready for it to happen. 

Second Time Around

This second time around it is a three day stay in hospital as opposed to five for the first treatment. The week follows much the same pattern as before; the same handful of tablets to start the day, saline drip, steroid infusion, Lemtrada itself and a final saline drip.  As I knew what was coming, I made sure to have a book and plenty of podcasts to keep me occupied.

I got to Ward 68, checked in and said hello to the staff who remembered me from the previous year.  We went through the admission questions, a canula was installed and I settled down for the festivities to begin.

Here we go again…

Getting Nervous

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous at this stage.  Partly the previous year’s investigations of Lemtrada were playing on my mind.  However, 2020’s defining story was reaching our shores I am of course talking about the coronavirus, COVID-19

On 10th February. there were eight cases of COVID-19 in the UK.  It still seemed an unlikely threat, still far away.  However, given that Lemtrada reduces the immune system and the associated recovery time, the thought of a such a virus was not pleasant.  I hoped I would be in and out of the hospital before the virus got too close for comfort.

Trying to put all these doom scenarios out of my mind, the first steroid drip started.  The familiar, and quite disgusting, metallic taste in the mouth was there.  The Lemtrada infusion then began, with the half hourly blood pressure checks as before.  Five hours later and it was done.  I breathed a sigh of relief at an entirely uneventful day completing.

As happened the previous year, the steroids kept me awake much of the night.  Tum te tum, sleep now.  No.  How about now?

All Done

The next two days passed by without any issue.  The ward was quiet, only a couple of other beds were taken.  With the changes in Lemtrada treatment in 2019, there were fewer patients coming through the ward than a year earlier. 

Once again, the staff did a great job looking after me.  I thanked them as I left on Wednesday evening, relieved to have come through the treatment without any problems.   Now for the recovery.

I got home on, absolutely shattered.  How would the treatment affect me this time around?  It was a smaller dose and I was a lot fitter going into it than I was the first time.  Should be easy. 

Erm, no.  Not really.  It was largely the same as the first time.  For about three weeks after it, I had very little energy, slept well and was generally in bed by 8pm most nights.  However, I felt fine whilst I was up so largely it was following the same pattern other than I didn’t have any flu like symptoms this time.

After three weeks, I felt back to normal.  I hadn’t trained yet and planned to give that a couple of months to let things recover.  It felt like a big step to get this treatment out of the way and without incident. 

Come mid-March, I was just about to return to work and Coronavirus was starting to exert its grip on the country.  Things were about to change…

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