I have been meaning to catch everyone up since my last post, but you know how it is the couple of days after a big birthday party...
It started as a quiet day: a Sunday, so Hematology and Oncology wasn't bustling with patients and doctors. My stemmie sister and I went in to our usual rooms through darkened lobby and got prepped to party with a bag of stem cells.
The doctors were there, the nurses, all on a Sunday morning. I imagined they all wanted to squeeze the bag like an empty toothpaste tube so they could back to their own families. But I still got a loving squeeze by my nurse, followed by lots of time pulling the lumps of hair off my shawl that had been falling out since the previous day. Dr. Gomez--a bit of a celebrity in my world--joked about how the stem cells will make the MS suddenly leave my body like a scene from the exorcist (he often uses horror movie analogies. He gets me).
And then I look up at the empty bag and it's over. I gave 11.8 million stem cells per kilo of weight, so that little bag hanging had hundreds of millions of stem cells. And it was over. This is what I came for. Not a single bit of pain upon entry. Just a little extra heartbeat and a flush of excitement.
We clapped, took out my port for the last time. I was saying something to my doctor behind me as the doors swung open to the darkened lobby, but quickly lost words when I saw my mobile cheerleading squad: There they were, in day-after-Saturday-night attire, singing happy birthday, cheering, and holding candles and a little cake. They all came out on a Sunday to cheer me and my stemmie sister on. I can't even. These guys.
It was a wonderful day. I came back to the apartment to even more love and cheers from all of you! I spent quite a lot of time reading and hearing your messages. Thank you for making this the best birthday.
I've been sleeping since Sunday night. I wake enough to take my meds, get my shot, eat something. I wish I had more to say even now, but I mustered up enough energy to write just
From here on out, I am in neutropenia. I have no immune system to fight for me until the new stemmies do their job and start growing me a new one. So, for the next 10 days or so, it's masks, no leaving the apartment, no eating a VERY long list of foods, chronic hand washing, showers and wardrobe changes twice a day, and a cleaning crew comes in with heavier than usual cleaners. I'm told that some patients come out more quickly than 10 days. I think I did my overachieving with the stem cell harvest, but let's see if I can give it another try.
Once I'm out of deep neutropenia and cleared to be out of the bubble, I will get one more top-off of chemo. Ugh, right? But Dr. Gomez reminds me: in every horror movie, the bad guy gets killed by the good guy. But inevitably, as the good guy walks away, the bad guy manages to get up one more time. This last dose of chemo, he says, is just to make sure the bad guy stays down.
Now, off for some sweet dreams.