And What Followed...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Surreal Seattle - The Transplant must go on

Hi all,

It's been a crazy 48 hours.

Last night I was rushed into the Emergency Room at the University of Washington with a
102-degree fever, nauseated and in pain. Seeing that I was a cancer patient, the nurses
put me in a separate room with a glass wall between the waiting room and me. This was a
good thing because it was full of drunk and bloodied fraternity boys, as well as sorority
girls having panic attacks, from a party that went bad.

As I sat in triage, I got a text msg from Den that I was about to be on Nightline. I looked
up and suddenly there was my face on every television monitor. It was very surreal. The
irony is that I couldn't watch it because I had to be quarantined from the infested waiting
room and I was so sick that the nurses quickly scuttled me into an ER room. No worries,
I'm recovering now and I'll catch the video later. I heard ABC did a good job.

The last couple days have been difficult. The statistics that Seattle gave me were tailored
specifically to my case and the numbers were even worse. Less than 50% chance of being
alive six months from now. Less than 30% chance of being alive a year from now. These
were hard numbers based on actual cases, not some random abstract idea from a doctor's
head. The mismatches are a real problem, especially the "C", which results in increased
chance of rejection.

The first thing they will do when I get admitted on Monday is DRAIN me of 60% of my
blood and then replace it with O+ blood (the blood type of the donor). Then they will
immediately start me on the rigorous chemotherapy, which will bring my cell counts down
to zero. 7-10 days later, when I am at my nadir, they will infuse me with the donor's
marrow. This is the most critical point of the transplant process. After that day, it is a long and precarious wait to see if the marrow will graft, to stem off any graft-versus-host disease and ward off any potentially fatal bacterial or viral infection. If things go well, after 4-6 weeks I will be moved to another part of the hospital grounds called "the village". I will not be allowed to leave the hospital campus for a minimum of 100 days. Music CDs, pretty calendars and posters, and buddies for board game nights are all welcome.

I'm praying for not only a cure, but a life free of any acute or long-term complications from the transplant procedure. I've learned that less than 20% of transplant survivors are able to live without serious complications or secondary diseases. One social worker recently said, "You need to be prepared for the possibility of being on permanent disability". Not this girl.

To give you an idea of how crazy this whole thing transplant is: The partial donor is male. HIS marrow and eventually HIS blood and chromosomes will be running through MY bones and veins. THUS, if I accidentally cut myself, the skin that gets cut will have the XX chromosome, but I will BLEED the XY chromosome. My body will be female but I will bleed male blood. (Insert Twilight Zone music here) NOTE to my screenwriter friends: Yeah, I thought this would make a great spec script for CSI or some other crime investigation show but I heard it has already been done before.

So it appears that CNN will be at the Open House tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing all
of you then!

Much Love,

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