Heplock Flush – A Unique Experience of A CML Patient

Parameshwaran Subramaniam – Bangalore, October 2007


Success is a result of 3 attributes; decision, determination and dedication. The power of firm decisions, rock hard determination and continued dedication despite hurdles and failures, make success your possession. This is what has come my way. This is the truth that has aided me in gaining control over the disease after I was diagnosed for CML in Feb 2004, the treatment for which was initiated by Glivec therapy. But as destined to occur by the Almighty, in October 2006, my blood smear sample did not show a favourable result especially on the WBC counts which had a threatening impact on my bone marrow without a warning and with reasons known and unknown. The only way forward barring all the rest was a—


On the 18th of Oct 06, accompanied by my family, I made a visit to CMC, Vellore to consult Dr. Mammen Chandy who on examination of my case advised me to go ahead with BMT. I was asymptomatic, till the tests were done. I showed no signs of any kind and I was as always, dynamic and full of life. I learnt quite a bit  about the whole treatment. With the belief and strength of the 3Ds, after the performance of my prayers on a Diwali morning, I bid adieu to my little children, after telling them to burst crackers with enthusiasm. As a word of parting I assured them of getting back after three months to celebrate all that we would have missed together. On the 20th of Oct 06 the process of BMT was kicked off with a series of check ups and tests for five consecutive days. Then I was put on “Chemo Session” for another five days, which was followed by the “Waiting Period” for the bone marrow to be suppressed completely. The donor, was my elder brother, P.S. Subramaniam, whose cells were implanted in me on the 7th & 8th of Nov 06. The cells started growing from the 17th of Nov 06 onwards and from then on, a new life dawned on me. I consider this blessing as a second birth.

The practices that I adopted during this tough journey were:
• I kept myself completely engaged with my laptop, music and movies and also networked with my team at work. This was to allow the 'chemo' do its job without dominating my mind and causing anxiety.
• I established a unique channel of communication between my body and mind .I gave a voice to my cells to accept the changes that were occurring and to react positively, accept the new donor cells and allow them to do their duty when they entered my body, established and become a part of my system. I told my old cells to keep quiet and exit from my body and allow the new cells to grow after they had entered.
• The most important practice was the 'Ritual of Prayers' by me, my family and all my well wishers. The faith in God gave me the 'courage to conquer', and 'the courage to live'.
• At no point of time did I ever grieve or complain of being put in this situation. Instead I found strength in what was remaining, a bright ray of hope which God has given everyone.
• I completely surrendered to Him and trusted Him during this dark phase. It was He who had given this to me and it is the same He who would resolve it and take it away and bring back the light into my life. This firm belief and faith in God was the foundation which made me prepossess victory, before I had actually won.
·• I strictly adhered to my doctor's instructions.
·• Though I learnt the fundamentals of BMT, I did not get into the depth because sometimes 'Ignorance is Bliss'.

The key essential was;

·• 'I wanted to live and add value to every relationship, be it family or society at large'. I developed a passion for this and prayed to God to give me an opportunity to turn this into a reality.

This struggle was a joint effort by me and my wife Rema who has given an 'Iron Grip' to my life. On the day we were confirmed of BMT being the only way out, we made up our minds to battle it together. She played the perfect role. Right from the day chemotherapy was initiated; I was kept in a sterile room, quarantined from all. All my requirements including food and water were to be sterilized in a cooker which was handled to perfection by her. She had a strong hold on her emotions and carried a smile always which made me feel better and better and ultimately win. She managed the home very well and also looked after my children. She was part of all my medical formalities and activities and also learnt from the experiences of other patients. She managed to keep me in the best of moods, never lost her courage and swallowed all the pain silently and alone. She deserved being honoured the highest prize which I bestowed upon her, in the form of my love and commitment. Some 'blessings in disguise' came to me in the form of Amma who arranged the meet with my doctor which if delayed would have led to severe and troublesome consequences, Dr. Shital Kiran who guided us through the process and was always by our side and Binu Mathew whose prayers lifted my spirits every time I spoke to him and who ensured us that prayer could do wonders. Last but not the least, it was my family, all the well wishers across this world and of course the fantastic team of doctors and nurses of the Hematology department in CMC Vellore whose love, dedication and smiles during the entire journey
helped me to come out successfully from the BMT.

Before I conclude I would like to share a couple of quotes with you all,
“Day to day I try not to focus on what my disease is doing. I would rather focus on what my life is doing and then find out where the disease fits inside that – otherwise one becomes preoccupied with just living to die rather than the other way.”

“Some see life as hopeless….others as hopeful. Even when things are less than perfect, if one thinks of the good, the beautiful and the hopeful…one will be more than sustained….One will Conquer”

The title of this story starts with Heplock Flush. During BMT, this particular solution is the one which is repeatedly used for every medical step. I can say it was my life line because to keep the tubes that were inserted in my body in sterile condition, only this solution could be used. To put it in another way, it flushed everything in me; not only the medicines but everything.