So I have been home for a week now! It is amazing what a morale booster it is! It has been a busy week to say the least.
On Wednesday, Crystal and I went down to Boston to meet with the transplant specialist at Dana Farber. In the waiting room, there were some people wearing both masks and rubber gloves. I thought to myself "I wonder what is up with those patients?" After waiting for a bit, the receptionist let me know that the doctor would like to get a fresh copy of my labs. This means I need to give blood. I was not prepared for this. You would think after a month in the hospital, I would be fine with giving blood. Definitely not!
They call my name and lead me to a small room in back with maybe 3 of 4 technicians drawing blood from people. They sit me in a chair. I immediately let my technician know that I will need to lay down so I do not pass out and that I am not fond of giving blood. She moves me to a reclining chair. I look over and she has about 10 empty test tubes. I start to have a mild panic attack. Evidently I started getting pale. She puts an ice pack behind my neck. I am now squeezing Crystal's hand pretty hard. Yes, Crystal is in the room with me...
She puts the needle into my arm and begins the blood draw. I swear the needle feels like a turkey baster in my arm. I am heading downhill at this point. Another ice pack behind my head, and one on my forehead at this point. She eventually finishes. I am not able get out of the chair for several minutes due to light headedness.
Back to the waiting room. We are then called in to meet with Dr. Vincent Ho. He is my transplant specialist. He explains why he thinks I should have a bone marrow transplant. Basically, without one, my leukemia will come back. I could have chemo for a year or so, but without the bone marrow, it will come back and results will not be good. He was very nice and extremely informative. He then told us all the negatives of a bone marrow transplant. That was a sobering conversation. But weighed against a relapse, it is obviously the way to go. Remember those people I mentioned that had masks and gloves on, that will be me after the transplant. For a long time after the transplant. Basically, I will have no immune system for several months. Crystal and I asked how long it will take to get the ball rolling. He said once we get your search going, it will be like 2 to 3 months. We said great, lets get the search going.
The next day, while sitting at my desk trying to sort through insurance paperwork, I get a call from Dr. Ho. He says I have good news. It looks like we have close to 1,200 matches for you. It looks like the 2 to 3 months will be reduced down to 3 to 4 weeks. This is good news.
On Friday, I had an appointment with my doctor at the Maine Cancer Center. She checked me out and it appears I am doing OK. (had to give blood again. Almost same blood story as above.) It looks like I will be going in for another round of consolidation chemo soon. That is a 1 week hospital stay. Will find out next week about that. Monday, I have to have another bone marrow biopsy to ensure I am still in remission. This is where they drill into my hip bone to extract marrow. They are putting me under anesthesia this time because they have been unable to get a good sample each time they have done it in the past. This is due to my existing marrow being extremely "dry" due to the leukemia.