I have found myself inside the four walls of a hospital room once again. This time the room is more of a closet size and I share it with my angel momma. We get one little corner window and shelves to house all of my snacks. True to our nature we have developed a coffee bar set up in our little home. A two cup Chemex pour over system with fresh Topeca coffee beans provides a little normalcy in the form of the smell of coffee in the morning. I have become known as the coffee girl between the nurses and doctors and we make them cups as they make their rounds.
So far the process has not proved to be too terrible. I feel like I have an edge up though with my experience in a T Cell Transplant last June. My mom and I often reference it when we are talking with the medical professionals and then shudder about it after. For a Stem Cell Transplant they placed a central line in my chest beginning of May to harvest my own stem cells. It took four days and I barely made the count for the transplant. Typically they want 2.5 million cells and I was just pushing 2 million. They say it is because of my history and all my body has gone through. I was then admitted to OU Medical in OKC on May 8th where I received high dose chemotherapy for the next six days straight. Yikes. It is hard to explain the feeling of chemotherapy being injected into your main artery but for you I will try. Imagine licking dry, spiky ice crystals, your tongue gets stuck, and the crystals are somehow inside your body.
Then we got to the exciting part! Transplant day! It was actually spaced over two days. Although the thought of what was happening was good the actual process was far from it. If chemotherapy is dry, spiky ice crystals then your stem cells are slimy, hot pop rocks that make your heart skip. One of my nurses came in the first morning and said, “Happy Birthday!” and gave me a Starbucks cake pop to represent the new beginnings. A clean slate. A cell birthday. I can almost guarantee that every year on May 15th I will be getting a cake pop in celebration from now on.
Now, we wait. The side effects of the chemo are starting to rear their ugly head. The other morning I woke up with the weight of 9 lbs of fluid on my chest from the IV drip. It sent me into a little panic attack but with oxygen and the prayers of family I was calmed. I asked my doctor what the record was for someone leaving the hospital after transplant and he said 8 days. That may be hard to beat… but I will take it one day at a time. My aunt, Cathy, is once again being my rock from afar. She is staying at an Air b&b two blocks away and brings my mom and I food, does our laundry, and gets whatever else we may need (or just want). I don’t know if I will ever be able to fully express what my family means to me but just understand that this is the heart of it. Full servanthood and with a beautiful smile at that.
Speaking of family, my mom is quarantined with me here. However, due to some recent restrictions she is not able to leave my room at all. It is a miracle we got approval for her to even be here. It is amazing to me that the other patients on the floor aren’t allowed family members. My heart goes out to them. My mom will wave at her sister as she walks by below on the street while she is walking in place behind a chair to get exercise. She is the epitome of patience. I FaceTime my dad to give him updates and to see my fat cat that I miss dearly. We are also planning on adding to the family! Because of the extreme generosity of a friend I am getting a golden retriever to be trained as a therapy dog. It has been a welcome distraction to look up training methods and watch videos of her and her siblings.
So here we are at the end of a long hallway behind double doors locked away from the outside germs. Transplant patients are encouraged to walk the hallway to stay active during the process. I walk morning and night but each lap is only about 20 steps because of the size of the hallway. Around and around like a goldfish in a messed up fishbowl. However, every time I take a lap I pass by that little bell hanging on the wall for when I am free. My simple prayer is, “Lord be with me.”