My Day 0 happened two days ago. Personal experience tells me that when one’s days are measured by pluses and minuses, it is very easy to lose track of time. That’s the reason why I am two days late in telling you what my second stem cell transplant was like, I genuinely have no idea what day it is. Well, I know it is Day + 2, but I only know that because I have just returned from my daily observations.
Back to Thursday, which was two days ago (it helps for me to repeat things because my brain function is so limited, making my next few blogs, I fear, nothing but factual). As the Medically Trained People require a full 24 hours between the Megatron going in and the stem cells, my transplant was not scheduled in until 16:30hrs. Given the late kick off time, Mamma Jones and I went to a morning screening of a Disney film in Leicester Square. It really was a perfect way to waste time and escape the road they call Tottenham Court. Cinema is a form of escapism after all. I could only escape for so long, and I was soon back to reality.
My reality was lying on a bed with a PICC line in my left arm and cannula in my right, whilst I thought of nothing but the pain to come. All the magical wonder I experienced during my first transplant, the big cylinders on wheels storing frozen stem cells, which then need to be thawed to 37 degrees Celsius, had gone. Even the big blue gloves the Medically Trained People have to wear to handle the frozen cells failed to get me excited.
Fortunately, fate decided to play a little game on me and my pals, so that I could feel something beyond apathy towards the actual transplant. All 90 minutes of it.
Fate, gave me 10 minutes of irrational panic.
For, after the Doctor had done his final check and the go ahead was given, and the nurse put on the big blue glove and leaned into the big cylinder on wheels, what did they find? Nothing. They found absolutely nothing. Another Medically Trained Person attended and placed the big blue glove on her hand and do you know what she found? Absolutely nothing.
The stem cells were not there… Now, apparently this had never happened before. The scenerios running through my head about what had happened to my stem cells were pretty imaginative, but not as imaginative as Mamma Jones’ who had three scenerios (not one involved them just forgetting to put the cells in the frozen container). My favourite of hers was that the hospital had accidentially given somebody an allograft using my tainted cells. In comparison, I temporarily thought they had lost my cells, making my medical plan was a waste of time and thus ruining all hope of recovery. I hid these thoughts well.
After a few minutes of pure imagination, a man appeared at the door, apologised and explained that my cells were still in the freezer. That was it. We all breathed a sigh of relief and I thought to myself, well, that was different from last time. You will find that my thoughts of late really are not that exciting.
Mamma Jones then, in celebration and relief, nipped out to get me a drink.
And so, everything was finally ready, the first of three bags was hooked up, I had confirmed my name and DOB and Mamma Jones appeared at my door with something that resembled a milkshake from Starbucks. I had a sip of the drink and I did not like it. Almost immediately after that, my throat began to tickle and then it began to swell… I thought about not mentioning it, but what if the throat were to swell even more? So I mentioned it and the Medically Trained Person said it was probably because of the ‘preservative’.
There I was, ready to sue Starbucks, until I realised that it was not the extra special ‘raspberry’ flavour that had given me the extremely tickiliy throat. The cause was whatever scientific juice they had used to preserve my stem cells. I thought to myself, well, that was different from last time. It took Mamma Jones a little longer to realise that my allergic reaction was stem cell and not Starbucks based. The Medically Trained Person overseeing my transplant, had decided by the third bag that I was in need of some antihistamine, and I can confirm with you, that I was indeed. I had never experienced an allergic reaction like it. I felt like I was in in a movie. An anticlimactic movie.
Once I had been given the antihistamine intravenously, I can confirm that I was no good for anybody, not even myself. Words became a muddle and sleep became my target. By 18:45hrs, the transplant was done and the only place I was heading was to bed. For 14 hours.
And that was that. In just 90 minutes my transplant done… There was no pomp and no circumstances. Apart from the mentioned mishaps, it all, looking back, sounds so simple. Three bags of cells and the deed has been done…
If only that were true.
If only that were true.