- Capt. Eric
With the strong treatments I received in the last months, my immune system was wiped out. At my lowest point I stayed 3 weeks in a fully sterile hospital ward where I was under constant observation.
The astronauts (the medical personnel in full Covid gear) would come in my room every couple of hours, check my blood count every 4 hours and generally keep me alive 24/7.
With no immune system I was at constant risk from any virus or bacteria lurking around in my body or even worse introduced into my room. Cleaning personnel disinfected my room constantly, and I wore a surgical mask almost all the time and certainly during any visit, even during my sleep.
Their extraordinary efforts paid off, and after re-injecting my own stem cells back into my blood stream, my blood counts started climbing and my immunity started very slowly being rebuilt. I went home to rest and continue rebuilding myself.
Best medical understanding is that it will take about 2 years for me to rebuild my immune system to its full strength. Until then, I will remain fragile and will be at elevated risk from any passing virus or bacteria. Getting infected could take me into shock with only a few hours for medical personnel to intervene before it'd be too late.
Needless to say my Doc isn't excited at the idea of Di and I going on trips to exotic locations that usually have their share of weird and dangerous infectious diseases and often are in spots with less than stellar medical infrastructure.
That will likely mean we're going to remain in the US, Canada or France for the foreseeable future.
As an immunocompromised person, Covid only added to my overall risk, so I was rather eager to get vaccinated. Unfortunately I had to wait a number of months after the end of my treatment to even qualify for vaccination. Too early and the vaccine would simply do nothing. Put simply, the vaccine's role is to teach my immune system how to deal with the virus. Put even simpler, with little immune system left after my treatment, my system cannot learn from the vaccine.
Without vaccine the few studies done on blood cancer patients show that 75% of those who contract Covid suffer from severe complications and 40% die. Needless to say I didn't fight cancer for 2 years to fall prey to Covid, so I will keep my guard up as long as is needed.
Thankfully, my Doc entered me in a medical study of vaccination effects on blood cancer patients, and I was given 2 Pfizer doses at the recommended interval, before rechecking my immune system's response.
Miracle of miracles, my immune system has reacted and I am now vaccinated, though the response is low compared to a normal person. (80 versus 1,000 spike S detection).
So I am vaccinated, but in view of my low response I need to continue to protect myself as if I weren't.
I call this being maybe vaccinated. Am I still at a 40% death risk if I catch Covid? No one knows.
I am enrolled in a medical study to see if a 3rd dose is needed, and I expect to have some answers soon. Both France and the US have confirmed 3rd doses for immunocompromised patients, though blood cancer patients are a separate category altogether so I need my Doc's advice.
I sure envy all of you who are at low risk from various viruses and in particular from Covid. Please don't forget the millions of people like me who are at very high risk - only slightly better than a coin toss - from Covid and please help us stay safe. Masks, social distance, vaccines all help keeping me and others like me alive.