Bone Marrow Transplant – Day 13

This is Angela, Dan is feeling too weak and tired to write so he asked me to update the blog tonight. Dan is in what is referred to as “the basement period”, where his white blood cell counts are so low that they cannot be detected. The normal range for white blood cells is from 4-8 (I believe that means 4,000-8,000), but the lowest that can be detected is 0.3 (300 cells). In the basement period, also referred to by Dr Langston as the miserable period, he would have less than 300 white blood cells. This is expected to last about 4-5 days, and during this time he will feel very weak, tired and sometimes nauseated. Even the smallest task like eating or taking a shower can take major effort and typically require a lot of rest immediately after. He is expected to be here at Emory for another week or so. If he is feeling good and his counts are up, he could possibly go home as early as Monday, the 13th, but the projected date as of now is Wednesday, September 15th.
A lot of people have been asking what happens once he is released from the hospital, and some have asked how they can help. Here is what I know as of now…
There is a critical time period of 30 days after the transplant when he must be very careful about exposure to germs and other harmful bacteria, spores, chemicals, etc. (I think MARTA should be on this list as well). If he is in public during those 30 days (Until October 1st), he should be wearing a mask and he should limit the number of people he comes in contact with. Visitors are certainly welcome, but please wash your hands immediately upon entering the house, remove your shoes in the foyer and do not visit if you have been exposed to anyone who has been sick. Our friend, neighbor and pediatrician, Dr. Bergman, also suggested that anyone who visits should have received a flu shot (not the nasal spray which is a live virus). I think this is pretty good advice, considering the circumstances.
For 3 months following the transplant (or until December 1st) he will still need to be cautious about exposure to germs bacteria and spores, but his body will be steadily recovering. During the 3 months post-transplant, he will be on a restricted diet and will not be allowed to eat any raw vegetables, fruits that do not have a thick peel, undercooked meats and of course, sushi or rare cooked fish. Fortunately for him, he will also not be able to do any cleaning or yard work for 3 months (hmm, that is the one thing that he has not complained about). So that is about it. We should resume a “normal” life by December (ok, anyone who knows us knows that our life is anything but normal even on a good day).
Dan’s parents are staying at our house to help out with everything for now, and that has been great. They will likely stay for a few more weeks to ensure that we have the support needed while he is recovering. They have been really helpful in sharing some of the responsibilities that we have day to day. Once they leave, we could certainly use some help in many different ways from yard upkeep, to play dates for Dominic, to preparing meals that are suitable for Dan to eat.
By the way, I wanted to really thank all of the incredible friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and even strangers who have sent well wishes, expressed concern and offered to help. We are so incredibly fortunate to have an amazing support system and we could not be more grateful. Dan has really enjoyed having visitors at the hospital to help pass the time, and loves playing scrabble and backgammon online with those who cannot be here in person (at least when he can stay awake). Thank you all so much for your time, kindness and generosity.

6 thoughts on “Bone Marrow Transplant – Day 13

  1. Kris Hodgson says:

    Hi Dan and Angela,
    You have never met me, but I recently discovered your blog. My wife was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in March of this year and recently just finished the 12 rounds of ABVD chemo. The tumor in her chest (very similar to Dan’s from what I have read) is still present although it is smaller than when we started. We are now researching bone marrow transplant as a potential next step to get her cured. As I have read your blog, it shocks and amazes me how similar our stories are. We have 2 young boys, age 2 and a half and the other 6 months. It is certainly difficult to be a parent plus a full time cancer patient.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us and letting us know that there are other people out there in our shoes. Stay strong, you are in our thoughts and prayers.

    Sincerely,
    Kris Hodgson

  2. Heather Scheidegg says:

    Hi Dan,
    sorry to hear that your feeling so weak but stay strong and believe that God has a plan for you and you will get through this tough phase and onto a new life of good health and happiness. I will be praying for you every day. Take care.
    Heather and family

  3. Mikki Lee says:

    HI Dan,,, I have a new ipad and love to play “words with friends” I only have one playing partner so far, ( no one else has an ipod or ipad) or they don’t want to play,, If you have either, I would love the challenge! Mikki Lee

  4. Carla Camp says:

    Dan, you and your family continue to be in our prayers. Keep marking the days off because you are on the last of the hospital days. Please let Blaine and I know if you need anything. He starts radiation Monday. God Bless you and yours!

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