BMT Days -4 through 6 Summarized, Plus: BMT Day 7, In Which I Am Re-Admitted To The Hospital.  (Part One)
Wednesday May 20th 2015, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Family, Friends, Leukemia

Every day since I was admitted to the hospital last Monday to go through the bone marrow transplant process has a number.  The day of the BMT, itself, was Day 0.  The days beforehand were negatively numbered as a countdown to zero, and the days after Day 0 are obviously numbered using a random number generator, Avagadro’s number, and the quadratic equation.  Which has surprisingly led to every day’s number going up by one whole number.  Maths is (are?) weird like that.

Day -4.  Monday, May 11th.  We received a phone call at 7:45 AM that there was a room available for me.  We rolled in at about 10:30.  Nothing happened until 6:30, when I received my first dose of fludarabine.  The infusion took all of 20 minutes and seemed to have no side effects.  I thought back to the BMT Oncologist, Dr. Gutman, saying that this should really be an outpatient procedure, but that insurance wouldn’t allow it.  Stupid insurance.

Day -3.  Tuesday, May 12th.  Again, a lot of waiting around.  I received my fludarabine at 4:30, which evened out the day a bit more.  The long days are broken up by great friends and family texting, calling, and visiting. Thank you, great friends and family.

Day -2.  Wednesday, May 13.  I received my fludarabine at 3:30.  It is my last day of chemotherapy for the rest of my life.  Fun fact: Rebecca was with me this time and the last time I received the last chemotherapy with which I’d ever be infused in my life.  I play lots of guitar in gaps between texts, calls, and visits.  It occurs to me that I’m not blogging.  I can’t really think of anything to say, except [crane shot, zooming out slowly and spinning as I yell to the heavens], “Iiiiiiiiiinsuuuraaaance!!!!”  I think about all the many countries that had medical insurance figured out fifty or more years ago.

Day -1.  Thursday, May 14.  My “day of rest,” in which I ponder, but cannot figure out, why the hospital or insurance company would pay to keep me in the hospital for a day with no medical procedures.  This literally costs those two institutions upwards of $6,000 (okay, maybe not literally, but I think I remember hearing someone say that).

I may have my complaints (I do!), but there are always things for which to be grateful.  There’s Dr. Gutman putting me on a “light induction therapy,” only 1/6 of what many patients receive.  His justification? “I could put you on the normal induction, but there’s a 70-80% chance it’d kill you.  Honestly, I prefer that the disease kills you rather than any decision I make.”  I genuinely appreciate his frankness.

There’s Rachie, who’s been receiving two neupogen shots everyday at the hospital, so that her bone marrow will produce an excess of stem cells.  Every day, experiencing bone pain that makes her feel like Tin-Man (her words) and all fluey and stuff, just so she’ll hopefully be able to give me enough stem cells on Day 0.  She doesn’t get a day of rest, and she’s gracefully dealing with all that for me.

There were also a lot of friends and family that visited.  I really enjoy Krista stopping by with her bass guitar. We kind of jammed, but we both agree we need more practice.

Also, all week, the nurses have been wishing me happy birthday.  As my birthday is in July, I am befuddled by this.  Someone finally explains that Day 0 is my new birthday.  I even get to keep my old one, too!  Two birthdays!!

Day 0.  Friday, May 15.  Rachel and Rebecca head to the hospital at 7:00 AM.  Rachel is hooked up to the apheris machine, which is incredibly painful.  This machine takes her blood from one arm, spins out all those extra stem cells she’s been producing, and returns the other parts of her blood to her other arm.  Thank goodness for Rebecca, who stands by her all day providing comfort and support.  Rach was apparently asked several times during her seven-hour-long procedure if she’s in pain, to which she replied, “Yes, but don’t stop the machine!”

I am very lucky to have two such special sisters.

I was initially told that I could not leave the floor, even to go see my sister who was saving my life.  I finally talked to the biggest cheese I could find, who gave me permission to go see Rachel and Rebecca.  It was a big, fun surprise, but I only got to stay for a few minutes.  We rushed back to my room, from where I was eventually taken to radiology to receive full body irradiation.

The process of being irradiated was not bad–in fact, I think I fell asleep during it.  However, upon returning to my room, it really hit me.  Pain and fatigue.  I took some medication and a nap.  Before I knew it (4:30), it was time to infuse me with Rachel’s stem cells.  What took her seven hours to give took me 20 minutes to receive.  Rachel and Rebecca arrived in the room in time for the infusion, but even more importantly, for the call Rachel received: she had given enough stem cells to forgo giving anymore blood the next day.  All the stem cells I needed were given and received in one day!

I’m overwhelmed by the worldwide support shown by the wave of orange; people posting themselves in their Reid Strong shirts.  I’m shown some pictures and told about others.  I don’t have time to look at the pictures yet, because I’m too busy celebrating my birthday with my extended family (my room was bathed in orange).

I’m very lucky to have such a great family.

I owe a debt of gratitude to my friends for coming up with the initial Reid Strong t-shirt concept.

I’m very lucky to have such great friends.

There’s irony to the whole t-shirt drive.  My sisters, who ran the drive through (and raised $6,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) had to send an end date for the campaign.  Whatever date they chose would lead to all shirts being delivered by May 15, so they told people to post pictures of themselves wearing their Reid Strong shirts specifically on the date they knew they’d all have arrived.  At that point–when they picked this random date–I wasn’t even in remission yet.  It was a total and complete coincidence that May 15 became Day 0. Thank you to everyone that took part in the campaign and who wore your shirts for Rachel and me.  It was amazing, even if it was mixed with a big coincidence.

All right, that’s the end of part one, frankly because I’m tired.  We’ll get to positive day numbers in Part Two.  Here’s a preview of most of the days: “I went to the outpatient BIC today and slept the rest of the day. Should I be blogging?  I should be blogging, but I’m too tired.”

Oh, also (spoiler alert): I got re- admitted to the hospital on Day 7.  Friday, May 22.  Today.

To be continued…


2 Comments so far
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I am amazed at such incredible bonds of family, Reid, peace, love, and LIFE to you all!!!!

Comment by Dani Newsum 05.23.15 @ 11:28 am

Reid, you never cease to amaze me. Although I only know you through your blogs and family’s posts, your clarity and organized writing enhanced by humor and gratitude say so much about you. Hang in there! Sending warm wishes your way —

Comment by Karen 05.24.15 @ 12:05 am

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