Bone Marrow Transplant – The BIG DAY


I am mostly going to skip over my review of day’s 5 and 6 because they were almost identical to 3 and 4.  Wake up, take lots of pills, walk laps around the floor, get chemo at 10AM, take a little nap, go outside, have dinner, take more meds, get chemo again at 9PM, try to sleep, do it again the next day.

Tuesday was my last day of chemotherapy, hopefully forever.  It will take a complete relapse to get me back into a chemo drip again because we are moving onto the recovery phase.  I woke up early this morning for transplant day, September 1, and got myself showered, shaved, dressed in fresh clothes and went straight to work.  I was busy on the computer all morning until Angela arrived at about 10:45 AM.  We chatted for a few minutes before the nurse came in and gave me intravenous injections of liquid Benadryl and Ativan and that brought the efficiency of my morning to a screaching halt.  The first thing I noticed was a cool and calm sensation running down my arms, and then the room twirled around a few times, and when a knock came at the door, I was pretty certain it was going to be Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder, not the newer stupid version), strolling in with his purple velvet smoking jacket and walking stick offering me a big slab of chocolate mushroom.  But it was just my nurse du jour, Mitzi, who is pretty cool in her own right and almost certainly more experienced at transplants than Willy Wonka.

I moved to the bed at that point because it seemed like the safest place and that is where my video begins.  I’m sorry the audio is not any better.  I was sort of mumbling and talking a little incoherently.  The heavy drugs have nothing to do with the procedure itself which is 100% painless.  You might here it discussed briefly in the video that there are preservatives added to the stem cells during it’s storage that can cause allergic reactions.  So, the recipient is given a heavy shot of the benadryl and ativan right before receiving the cells to counter act any reactions.

Another problem with the audio is a repeated gasping sound.  Watch closely and you will see that the noise is my pathetic little hiccups.  Chemo always makes me hiccup, but it is a delayed reaction.  I get it a few days after the dose, so I guess today was the day.

The whole process lasted about 20 minutes to infuse two bags of stem cells.  I remained pretty sleepy and groggy the rest of the afternoon and did a really dumb thing all by myself, but to which I will disclose here for the hilarity of all who take amusement from my misfortunes.  One of the nurses brought me a juice drink that is high in proteins and calories because she knows I am having trouble eating most foods.  Well, I sat in bed with this drink which she poured into a styrofoam cup full of ice.  I drank about half of it, and then started to doze off again and the cup slipped out of my hand and soaked the entire bed and my pants in red juice and ice chips.  Good thing these are vinyl mattresses.

At the end of the transplant, all the nurses from the floor brought me balloons and sang a special stem cell birthday song.  From now on I have two birthdays, my original one in November and now September 1.  And Mitzi told me it is perfectly acceptable to insist on gifts, parties and cake for both of them.  Tomorrow officially begins Day 1.  I have been counting wrong on the blog.  These days of chemo were considered Day -5, -4, -3, -2, -1 and today is Day 0.  Tomorrow I start counting up to the rest of my life.  Can’t wait!

8 thoughts on “Bone Marrow Transplant – The BIG DAY

  1. Laura Gearhart says:

    How adorable are you with your glasses and your hiccups?!? I couldn’t be any happier for you and the new cancer free life you are beginning! I have to admit, I had a few tears of joy spring from my eyes when the nurses came and sang to you. Congratulations Dan! You did it!!! BIG HUGS TO YOU!!!! Happy Birthday!!!

  2. Karen says:

    What a day!!!! “Up” is right! Just hope you can count that high! (are you certain that red juice was a protein shake?!?!?!?!?!?!) Love you

  3. Susan Boling says:

    Happy Birthday Dan. When we celebrate your 1 yr birthday in 2011, we will have to have Angela jump our of the cake! Please know that your Mayfair neighbors are thinking of you every day. See you soon.

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