It’s Tuesday morning and a busy day lies ahead of me here in the AA Maximov centre in Moscow. That’s what Anastasia told me yesterday afternoon as she was about to go home after a 10 hour working day that started at 7am.
And, as if to prove it, this morning I was wakened by a nurse so to give a urine sample. Next, it was time for blood tests but eating until after the samples had been taken. In a bizarre bit of psychological torture, there was a warning that the catering staff may bring my food but I was not allowed to touch it until told it’s ok to do so.
As it has turned out, Galina arrived and took nine blood samples before my breakfast arrived. Yes, nine samples! No idea what tests are being carried out but I have never had so many samples taken before. It certainly seems to be thorough. Still not allowed to eat though, other tests demand that too!
Last night, well early evening, I went through the MRI scanning procedure. Because many people don’t like going into the confined space of the ‘tunnel’, Dr Fedorenko offered me a sedative but I knew what to expect and declined politely.
It was just as well as, even without a sedative, my own snoring woke me three times during the hour long scan. You can tell, I was really tense!! Actually, the only problem was that restless leg syndrome, that often attacks in bed, decided to kick in.
Talking of Dr F, he and I met several times yesterday. We had, of course talked before when I interviewed him for Multiple Sclerosis News Today – but that was by telephone, so it was good to meet face to face.
It was immediately obvious that my previous impression of the man, as dedicated and compassionate, was entirely accurate. Moscow HSCT veterans often describe him as kind and lovely, I can see why and, like them, am happy to have him looking after me.
We had a chat about my own case and he said that the whole point of all the tests are to see whether or not the benefits of HSCT will outweigh the possible disadvantages in other areas, such as my heart. He explained that chemotherapy drugs, a vital part of HSCT, could have negative effects on a heart with different problems. Atrial fibrillation, he continued, is not in itself a contraindication but he wanted to be sure that there was no other problem.
“MS is a chronic disease that HSCT can cure,” said Dr Fedorenko, “but it is a disease that does not kill.”
He continued: “Our two aims here are to stop MS and improve quality of life. There is no point stopping MS if the therapy is likely to cause or add to problems elsewhere.”
To him, the outcome of the treatment is more important than relieving patients of the $50,000 currently charged.
Dr Fedorenko cares!