I spent the weekend completely exhausted from the first week of treatment, and primarily I was just thankful for the opportunity for myself (and my veins) to rest. We mainly relaxed in the hotel, watching TV, FaceTiming family and friends and lying by the pool when I felt up to it, and ate in the hotel restaurant or ordered takeout. By Sunday I felt up to venturing out, so the hotel concierge suggested we took an Uber to the Hollywood Walk of Fame to see the Stars. I’m not too sure what I was expecting, but it was extremely busy and quite overwhelming, and I was experiencing a lot of hypersensitivity from the crowds and all the noise which was making me anxious, so we kept our visit brief and then headed to Melrose Avenue which was much quieter and far more pleasant. We went in a couple of shops and I was reminded of how much friendlier people are in LA than in London; the shop attendants all want to chat with you, and as soon as they heard my accent, everyone was very excited to talk about the upcoming Royal Wedding. I think Americans are more obsessed with the Royal Family than we are, and almost every shop had ‘Harry and Meghan’ banners outside; we saw ‘Harry and Meghan’ cupcakes, hot dogs, masks, the list goes on! It was great to be able to get out of the hotel, but my fatigue was making walking extremely tough, so after a couple of purchases we got an Uber back to Beverly Hills and had an early night. In all I hadn’t felt as bad as I expected to over the weekend, albeit the overwhelming fatigue had limited what we were able to do, but otherwise most of my symptoms had not been any worse than usual, which I felt was a positive sign given the circumstances.
I woke on Monday with sore joints and increased hypersensitivity, but I was able to get up and ready for the clinic without too much difficulty. Excitingly, my friend Gena had checked into our hotel over the weekend, so we were able to share the car to Infusio, which worked well. After checking in I was straight into the Hyperbaric Chamber for forty-five minutes, and I flicked through a magazine to pass the time. Incredibly, I was really starting to find it easier to focus; I was watching TV again in the evenings and able to actually follow plot lines, and I was trying to start to read; just small blurbs in magazines, but I was sure I was able to track words better and making progress with comprehension. I was desperately trying to not get ahead of myself and start imagining improvements which just weren’t there, but I couldn’t help but feel excited and hopeful at this new level of clear-headedness. After the Chamber had depressurised, I had my thirty-minute Global Diagnostics Scan, and then headed upstairs and straight into the Novo Bed. I only had a ten-minute session as I was now on the maximum setting, which meant it was very hot and I was thankful that I wasn’t stuck in there for any longer! The morning had sped by and it was lunchtime already, so we walked up to Kreation for lunch with Gena and her husband. I got the Red Velvet smoothie, which contained almond milk, raspberries, vanilla and frozen banana, and we headed back to Infusio and ate outside on the terrace.
Gena and I both had IVs scheduled for the afternoon, and Dr Kim came out to tell me that everything she had ordered had now arrived, and so I would be starting the IVs designed to counter withdrawal symptoms whilst we reduced my Amitriptyline dose. She explained that I would be doing this all afternoon, and then I should take only 10mg of my medication in the evening as opposed to my usual 50mg. She also told me to pick up a supplement called 5HTP to take if I needed to, as it is a natural replacement which still helps the body produce serotonin. As one of the side effects of Amitriptyline is that it aids sleep, after nearly three years of daily use my body relies on the medication to get to sleep, and Dr Kim explained that if I was having trouble with this, then taking 5HTP should be helpful. I stayed out on the terrace whilst getting through the two huge fluid bags, which took a really long time, before also having a bag of Glutathione to finish. About halfway through the second bag I started feeling very very nauseous, so I just lay down and tried to focus as best I could on just getting through it. I was the last patient to finish today, and once my IVs were complete I was straight in for my Monday injections. Eight NAD injections in my back, four NAD injections in my stomach, the usual Thymus shot and I was finally done! I was definitely getting more used to the pain, and just braced myself to get through them as quickly as possible before I had too much time to think about it!
We walked home via Whole Foods to pick up the 5HTP, and once back at the hotel we ordered gluten-free pasta for dinner and I managed to eat a little in front of the television. I took my 10mg dose of Amitriptyline at the usual time and did have some trouble getting off to sleep, although I’m not sure how much nerves were also affecting this, so I took a couple of 5HTP pills as recommended. It had been a long day at the clinic, and by the evening I was certainly starting to feel very nervous about the prospect of reducing my medication so significantly. My body was so reliant on it that every time I had previously tried to reduce the dose, even by a couple of milligrams, I had become incredibly unwell with so many awful symptoms. It had taken me a year and a half to get down from 150 milligrams to 50, so I felt a little apprehensive about doing it so suddenly, but I felt reassured that Dr Kim was so confident that this approach would work, and I was acutely aware that I needed to do this in order to be able to get the Stem Cell surgery I had come all this way to get. I was still feeling nauseous, and this combined with all these conflicting thoughts filling my head, meant It felt like ages that I was waiting to fall asleep. I eventually drifted off feeling anxious, but also desperately hopeful for a good response from my body the next morning.