It’s getting closer now. The transplant. I can feel it. It had seemed so far away. Now things will start happening late next week.
I am very well informed. I have known this transplant was a possibility for almost a year. Since the decision was made in May, I have done my homework. I know this procedure can be tough to get through. While I don’t know exactly how I will do and if there will be complications, I do know exactly what the plan is. I am ready. I have never been scared about this and I am not scared now. However, the mind is a mysterious thing. Since Friday I have had a vague sense of fear. It’s more of a physical sense than a mental one…I can feel it. I know I have felt this way at least one other time. In 2010, I almost had surgery on my broken finger and the 24 hours before, I seemed to go inside myself, seeking a quiet place to take it all in. I was nervous about it. It was ultimately cancelled as the surgeon decided it would heal on its own. But it was a close call, and I remember that strange way I felt. The first step in this next adventure is over a week away and I guess I have that feeling now because this is a much bigger deal.
On July 24th, I will have my central line put in. It’s a catheter that will go into one of the large veins near my heart. It will be used for blood draws, transfusions, and the actual transplant. This way, I will not have to have an IV in my arm the whole time. I could have the central line for as long as 6 weeks. After mobilization and apheresis (the collection of the cells), I get a short break before being admitted on August 8th. Chemo is scheduled for the 8th and 9th and the transplant will take place on the 11th. Oops, I have forgotten to explain how this works. I’ll back up a bit. This is an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant. My own cells are harvested and used. In theory, these cells are healthy. After my immune system is wiped out by chemo, and the bad cells are gone, it is hoped that after these cells are put back in, they will begin to rebuild a new healthier system. It is kind of a “reboot”. The goal is long term remission. I will be in the hospital 2 or 3 weeks and then I need to stay near by until at least Day 30. (Transplant day is referred to as Day 0) When I come home, I will go about the business of recovering. I will not be able to do a lot of things for a long time. One is to care for animals. Last I checked, that is how I make my living. So there you have it. This is life changing for me…at least in the short term. That’s why I am trying to cram all of 2014 into 7 months!
I need to do the things I want to do very soon. I’m running out of time. I’ve been eating desserts. I’ve said yes to every dinner and coffee invitation that I can. I’ve been to the movies twice now since May…incredible as I go whole years without doing that! I’m going to go out and run and bike and swim at least one more time…I have to, whether I am supposed to or not. And through it all, I am trying to take in any joy and beauty that I can.
I planted flowers this weekend. I haven’t done that in ages. I am not sure if it is the need for beautiful things around me, or the need for dirt. The more I think about it, the more I realize it must be the dirt. I will not be allowed to garden for 6 months. I must garden now!
I have told my son Trevor, and his girlfriend Brooke, that I would appreciate it if they would hold off on collecting the eggs from the chicken coop. That needs to be my job for now. It is a ritual that I really enjoy. Even when someone has already gotten the eggs, I take special care with my “girls” each day to clean the chicken poop out of the nesting boxes. I won’t be able to do that for 6 months either. I won’t be able to collect the eggs. Livestock care is completely off limits.
I’m feeling all this sense of urgency and yet I feel like I’m moving in slow motion. My regular life goes on. I have to work. I have to get the business ready for my absence. I have doctor appointments. I have to occasionally clean the house. (Although I do not feel the need to dust and vacuum, more activities I will not be able to do…not sure why that is…)
Still, I will continue to search for the beauty in my life while I can. I want to breathe in all the fresh air I can and feel the sun on my shoulders. This “Beast” of a hospital stay is a comin’ like a freight train. I can hear the first few lines of “Band on the Run” playing in my head. “Stuck inside these four walls…”. Although I won’t be “sent inside forever” and I’m quite sure that I will see someone nice again, I know I am facing a challenge.