If my transplant day was Day Zero, then it’s Day One today. My transplant yesterday was, as predicted, uneventful—a good thing. Mostly, I slept yesterday.
In the morning, after a shower and breakfast, I was given the Benadryl and Ativan through my IV, so I immediately felt warm and sleepy. I managed to have a conversation with my boyfriend and the social worker before the doctors and nurses came in to do the procedure.
I was hooked up to oxygen for an extra boost, and one of the nurse practitioners injected my stem cells, vial by vial, into my chest catheter. Meanwhile, a nurse held fresh lemons under my nose and squeezed them. This is to combat the smell of the preservatives used for the stem cells. The lemons, combined with the red color of the stem cell vials, made me think about Bloody Marys.
I was warned that the side effect of the preservatives would be a tickle in the throat, and that was the worst part. It’s a persistent, annoying tickle, but I didn’t experience much nausea. Mostly, I felt weird and uncomfortable and wanted it to be over, even though the procedure was mercifully short. I now see the wisdom of the Ativan, as I recognized my old pre-panic feelings roiling beneath the surface.
Overall, it went by very quickly and as pleasantly as possible, despite the unpleasant throat tickle that made me cough. I had four vials overall of six million cells. I also was battling with extreme sleepiness, so I was torn between wanting to pass out and needing to get my mind off my panic by talking to the people who were trying to engage my attention with talk of cats and the weirdness that is the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry.
After the transplant, I slept most of the day, waking up only briefly when someone would come in to do something to my IV pump or check my vitals. Around 5, I woke up to a package that contained a plush Grumpy Cat, a big hit today with the doctors. I catch at least one person per day examining my plush narwhal.
Today, I’m dealing with just a few side effects of the radiation and chemotherapy. The worst part is still the violence going on in my esophagus and the painful burps, as well as a slight burning, but I was told that’s expected. I’m taking a lot of things for indigestion, so I think everything that can be done to ease the effects is in place, but it’s the mechanics of the indigestion that I can still feel. My throat has started to hurt, and my mouth also hurts, though the sores haven’t happened yet.
At night, with not much outside stimulation, my dreams are strange, pulling from random bits of subconscious. I often wake up in the middle of the night, feeling as if I have something important to do, but I don’t, so I just get up and use the Biotene mouthwash.
For the mouth pain, I was given a weird clear gel that tasted like a black jellybean, but not as sweet, to numb my mouth a bit. And I’m supposed to get a pain pump in the coming days. I feel constantly thirsty. Most of my medications have been switched to intravenous ones so I don’t have to swallow pills.
I’m still on the Lovenox blood thinners for my pulmonary embolism, but I’m also receiving platelets as a precaution to avoid bleeding in the lungs. I’ve been having the nurses give me the Lovenox in the arms, since I’ll have about four months of blood thinners left when I get out of here, and my poor belly is already so bruised.
I’m warned that I might not eat for awhile, but I expect to try to eat for as long as I can. Today, I overcame my throat discomfort to eat some Nutella crepes. I’ve been sticking to soups and soft foods when I can, so unless/until the nausea sets in, or the mouth sores get to be too much, I think I’ll be eating. Even if it’s an ice cream dinner.
Other than that, I’m just trying to figure out how to relax. I signed off of work projects for a while, and I’m a little at a loss for what to do with myself. I’d like to read, and I have a bunch of great books lined up on my Kindle. I have a season of Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire to watch. I just feel weird watching TV in the middle of the day. Maybe if it were gray and rainy out, I’d feel better about it. I have a cat puzzle. I still have scarves to make and yarn to use up.
Now that I finally have time, I’m at a loss for what to do with it.