Well today was the day! After 2 nights overnight with fever, vomiting and diarrhea I made it through to the other side and am feeling more human than I’ve been in a while.
After the 5 days of chemo and one day of small bouts of irradiation, I went back to 5 West for the ATG, which is designed to reduce the immune system even further so it won’t attack the new comers. This moniker always makes me nervous because of my reaction from before, of which the team was very aware, so I was under constant supervision as it was an 8 hour drip. At about the 6.5 hour mark I started to feel gross, then threw up. Then I spiked a fever, anticipated, so they kept me overnight. The next morning, yesterday, I had the second and final round of ATG. Again, at around the 6.5 mark, my entire GI tract emptied its contents repeatedly and exhausted me beyond belief. I could not get up from the bed. I was feverish again and on Tylenol and various other things and sent to the In patient section where I had a private room and no desire to do anything, even sleep. I was soooo dehydrated and craving– nay– fantasizing about limonadas in Puerto Vallarta, all that luscious lime on crushed ice in sparkling water… torture! I came to be a huge fan of a simple cup of crushed ice. In fact, I realized that the ice tasted so much better than the water I would rather wait for it to melt. That night I sweat it all out while the nurse applied cold cloths on my head and neck. By morning I was feeling better and by 6:30am I was sitting up with a renewed appetite. I am sad, but not surprised, to report that the food continued to be hideous. Even the toast gets reheated. By the time you get it, it is a cold dead thing you might want to put some concrete on to build a shed. As for the egg, more like a golf ball. At least the cereal was decent. But not enough. Off, Pete, to Tim’s, and get me a breakfast sandwich! That stayed down and paved the way for better things to come. Because my entire GI tract has been rearranged, I need to nurse it all back to health. This is why we prepared and brought organic applesauce and yogurt, however these got thrown out by an overzealous nurse, so I had few resources available.
There was a little bit of preparatory meds, then the marrow arrived! I was to get 2 big juicy bags of it. It went in my IV just like any other drug, and all I had to do was sit back and watch benign episodes of Parenthood and listen to my CD “marrow mix”. We were allowed to leave around 2 or so. I was jonesing for a bath and Pete went off for more supplies (in the way of Depends…). In the tub I had a big pow wow with my cells. Guys, just chill. Y’all have a nice mash up, don’t be threatened. The new guys are coming in gently and fixing the place up. You did your best all these years, thanks, I luv ya! Now git! but not too quickly!
Other than feeling more energetic and upbeat, the other thing I noticed was that for the first time in many years, my nails looked pink! I had been so pale for a long time, and now even my face looked ruddy. I wondered if it was the effect of the radiation, which is the appearance of sunburn, then tan. We’ll see how that goes. Another thing I’ve noticed since the ATG is some neuropathy in the lips– they’ve felt strangely fuzzy.
Here is what I am to expect over the next while. At the end of this first two weeks (or sooner) I will start to feel wonky. This is my body realizing its been tricked. This is when the fastest growing cells start to fall away: hair, mucous, more in the GI tract. It will be a touchy time with mouth sores and the works. At about 18-20 days, engraftment should begin and new cells will start to grow. This is when we will start to see cell counts start to go up. By 4-6 months, my energy level will be approaching normal.
I do like the baby analogy here. I have a new marrow taking hold in my body and I must treat myself like a baby to accommodate it. Soft foods, lots of rest, fluids, avoid crowds and sick people, salad bars, soft cheeses and questionable sources of food. It’s also not unlike being pregnant. I’ve been down that route a few times, so it won’t be too difficult. I hope.
Addendum: for some frustrating reason I am unable to sync my iCloud to post photos, which has been causing a delay for me in posting this. It is the day after transplant and I had to readmit myself overnight because my temp was over 38. I’ve had little sleep and little stays in my stomach, so I’m quite miserable but am just now coming round to humanity again. The docs came in full force today discussing precautions, and this means I’ll be here thru the weekend. The thinking is that the BMT might have been the cause of the fever but since I have an already weak immune system, they have to be really cautious and consider other possibilities and so I went downstairs for chest X-rays. I like their precautionary measures but it sucks to step back. I realize that there will be days like this, one up, one down, sometimes both within the same day. So though I don’t feelnth is is ready for posting, I will do so anyway.