For anybody who thought that a stem cell transplant was an operation in the traditional sense, my experience yesterday, would disappoint. There was no blue gown, no anaesthetic, hell, there were no doctors. After all the preparation, mental and physical, the ninety minutes it took for my stem cells to re-enter my body, was anticlimactic. It was a little exciting I suppose, but although I knew how I would get them back, I did not expect it to be so easy. Clearly, I know it is going to get worse now. The hard part comes after the Melphalan and after the transplant. When I left Ambulatory Care yesterday, it became perfectly clear to me, that all I have to do over the next few days, is to wait for my side effects. Wait for the hard part.
Although I found the process anticlimactic, I suppose that feeling comes from me not seeing an instance response or result, some tangible benefit, the process was still something to watch. Mamma Jones and Big Sister stood at the foot of my bed watching the whole thing, whilst saying, ‘I cannot believe this is it?’.
I arrived at the hospital yesterday shortly after 13:30hrs, as I had to wait a full 24 hours between the transplant and the chemotherapy. I was quite sleepy upon my arrival to the second floor, which went very well with the intravenous antihistamine they gave me to prevent an allergic reaction from the ‘freezing’. I am pretty sure that I looked stoned throughout the process and in fact, that particular look remained into I fell asleep shortly after 21:00hrs last night.
You get a private room when you your stem cells are infused, not because it is a private procedure, but really, because it takes up so much room. Tables, machines, a pot, more tables and drips. You really cannot have that in a communal area. Anyway, yesterday, some might have said I needed privacy, for it was hot and my dress was riding up to reveal my hot, big, white arse.
My stem cells came back to me in three bags. The bags were frozen to begin with, removed from some sort of contraption that looked like a prop from Jurassic Park’s lab, a smoking canister, then taken out of some popping bubble wrap and then placed in a medical version of a bain-Marie to thaw, before they were implanted in me via the cannula in my right hand. That happened three times. The cells were accompanied by a little bit of saline for luck. All in, I think we were done in just over two hours, from me walking through the door, to getting back out on the street, feeling woozy.
I would describe my transplant as ‘nice’, like a cup of brew with a scone. Pleasant. I am thankful that the nurses treating me, knew me already, and I am thankful that they seemed genuinely pleased that I had finally managed to get to this point, and I grateful that one of them said she was honoured to be the person to do it and I was even more touched that she finished it be wishing me a Happy New Birthday.
Control. Alt. Delete. Let the reboot begin.
I said this yesterday, there is no going back now. I have to sit tight and wait for illness, and as the Macmillan Lady just said, that lack of control, must be something that I will particularly struggle with. She is correct. I really do not cope well with waiting.