I’d just been thinking it had been awhile since I bought any fun accessories. Today, I bought a MedicAlert bracelet and necklace so that EMT workers know all my blood products must be irradiated. I’m not even quite sure what that means, so I asked a friend who is a phlebotomist.
“It’s kinda cool,” he says. “You take the donor blood, bag and all. And toss it in to be given a nice dose of gamma radiation….kinda like The Hulk.” I knew it.
“The big reason for irradiating blood is to get rid of white blood cells that may still be in the blood products, especially lymphocytes,” he explains. “It may be a little confusing, but here goes: Lymphocytes are a huge part of your immune response. Josie’s cells are very gullible right now. She has lymphocytes, but they don’t remember the rules just yet. They don’t know what is foreign to her body. They’ll figure it out, will just take some time. If she gets a donated lymphocyte in her, it may proliferate. OK…so you have these foreign lymphocytes in Josie’s body, they don’t recognize Josie, so they decide to attack her. You get more and more foreign lymphocytes, and they attack more and more vital organs. It’s called Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD). GVHD is rather rare, but when it does happen, it can be fatal. That’s why they take such precautions. People with competent immune systems (the rest of us) have nothing to worry about if we get blood products. If we get a stray lymphocyte or two, our bodies’ bullies will squash them.”
So I have to get Hulk blood for the time being. Hopefully I never have to use my MedicAlert anyway.
I visited the doctor yesterday, and the news is all pretty good so far. My counts are great, so I’m on the road to recovering from my stem cell transplant. It’s just going to take some time.
In the meantime, I still have to take those precautions, like avoiding people and raw fruits. The really good news is that I don’t have to avoid the cats as much. They are going to the vet to be tested for toxoplasmosis on Saturday, but since they’re indoor cats, it’s highly unlikely they have any parasites. I’m still not to empty the litterbox in the coming months.
Upon my return home, the cats acted as I expected. The less-bright-cat-who-loves-me-more hopped on my lap and purred and has generally been unfazed by the ban on my face. He’s too clumsy to really cuddle—prone to falling off laps and chairs—anyway.
The other cat eventually accepted me as part of her territory again and this means I have no rights to space in her eyes. I am hers, not the other way around. So if she wants to jump on my face in the middle of the night, it’s her right.
We successfully kept her locked out of the bedroom for a few nights. When my boyfriend got up to take a shower, however, I awoke to a wet nose against my cheek and a sandpaper tongue on my head. We agreed that she seemed to think we were trying to keep the other cat away from us, because depriving ourselves of her company was surely a mistake—one she tried to correct by pawing at the door and meowing to alert us that she, too, had been erroneously locked out of our bedroom. It was heartbreaking for me. My boyfriend reassured me that the spoiled cats won’t be scarred by a few months of me not petting them as much.
The cat’s endearing cuddling habits had become a liability, so I’m glad the restrictions are somewhat lifted by my doctor. Staying away from cat poop is easier than staying away from the cats themselves.
Another bit of good news it that the doctor wants to switch me from Lovenox subcutaneous blood thinner injections to Rivaroxiban pills. After almost three months of giving myself injections that slightly sting twice a day—and three months to go to get rid of this pulmonary embolism—I’m over the Lovenox. My abdomen is full of hard spots from the injections, and I’m looking forward to not giving myself shots every day.
Other than that, I just need time to heal and regain my strength. To help the time go faster, I also got the OK to work from home. I have to walk more, but the weather still isn’t quite right for neighborhood strolls. I might try my walking-DVD-for-older-people this weekend.