Dear Prayer Warriors,
A lot of people have asked to be reminded of the transplant process and the remaining timeframe so to some of you this may be redundant.
Basically, I am hanging in there like a “hair in a biscuit” :). I’m fighting feelings of head and body aches, nausea and I am really fatigued at times. The doctors are pleased with my progress. They are expecting these types of symptoms. They say “you are right on track!” Yikes! The lack of white blood cells, low platelets and a weak immune system are part of the plan. I feel like the process is intended to ALMOST kill me and then I will come back to life! Ha!
The objective now that I am almost neutropenic is to eradicate my immune system, stave off any infection, fungus or virus, protect all my organs and then to wait while my new beautiful donor cells begin to graft. As I mentioned before, it will most likely take another 2-3 weeks for this to “take” and I will be healthy and feel good enough to go home. In short, I am weathering the big storm and waiting for the gargantuan rainbow to shine in the sky at the end of this hospital journey.
The great news is that I am in the hands of our Good Lord and the skilled and friendly doctors and nursing staff of the Emory transplant team on floor 9T. I also have a supportive family and generous friends and an incredibly talented and prepared SPS staff. Up here, the view of downtown and midtown is astonishing! It is truly a 24/7 dangerous job to keep me in tip top shape. There are so many well-orchestrated drugs to prepare my body for the ultimate engraftment of a new colony of cells. We’ve got this!
Each day, I am sleeping a lot, feeling nausea, bone and body aches, trying to eat at least 3 healthy handfuls of food each day, I’m drinking tons of water, ginger ale and juice, getting 10-20 miles in on the bike, at least 1 mile walking in the hall and managing the medicine routine. They are also checking my blood pressure, temperature, pulse rate, heart, lungs and belly sounds all on a regular basis of about every 4 hours!
My white blood cell count is dropping each day and was at .7 this morning. (Normal is 4.0-10.0) My precious donor went through surgery to extract the bone marrow stem cells from her bones so that I could get bone marrow stem cells the “old fashioned way” on Feb 20th. (8 hours of infusion!) My doctor sometimes requests this approach but rarely finds a willing donor. This was in lieu of the more popular and less invasive way of taking the stem cells from the blood stream. Since I had so many perfect donors, I am blessed that my donor agreed. This old-fashioned way is the best way to prevent the dreaded graft vs. host disease. I am a lucky girl and although I will continue to feel like “I’ve been run over by a truck” for a longer period of time. I’m doing that exercise each day to stay in shape and keep things flowing. Sheri is spending each night with me. Carl and Alex and other family members are coming in and out but have to be healthy, “scrub in” and “scrub out” and wear a mask. My immune system will be at zero with a huge chance of infection for at least another two weeks. The earliest I might get to go home is around March 21st. (depending on when cells engraft) Then I will be home with 24 hour care for 3 more months. I can’t wait to see you all! Know how much I love you and appreciate your love, support and prayers!