Today Is Day – 2 (Minus 2)

IMG_1142That’s what they call it!  -2!  To everybody else in America, today is Memorial Day.  For us, it’s the last day of chemotherapy drugs pumping through Steven killing any stray cancer cells and all his bone marrow in preparation for Wednesday.  On the transplant calendar, Wednesday is Day 0 – his second birthday.  The day he gets all this new stem cells that will multiply within his cancer-free body, gradually growing a new cancer-free Steven from the inside out.

It’s taken so long to get here, yet it seems like a whirlwind now. We checked into Shands last Monday, and unfortunately I pretty much booted Steven out of the car and left.  Maybe it wasn’t quite that cold and quick, but it sure felt like it as I drove south like a deserter!  The delay in scheduling put a crimp in my appointment schedule at work, and I just couldn’t overload my design partner any worse than I already have.  She’s been a champ covering for my absences, but there comes a point where even Supergirl needs back-up!  So I waited with Steven while he got his blood tests to confirm that he was well enough to begin the procedure, got his dressing changed onIMG_1141 his tri-port and then got admitted into the hospital.  After a few short visits from different hospital people explaining all the ins and outs of the upcoming days, I left him in the capable and very caring hands of the 7th floor staff of the BMT wing.

And just as the schedule showed, chemotherapy started last Tuesday morning at 6 AM on the dot, henceforth known as Day -8.  From that starting point, Steven received 16 doses of Busulfan infusions which were timed out on a very specific schedule running on a 24 hour clock from Day -8 through Day -5.  Both the nurses and Steven were counting down at the completion of each infusion looking forward to when that IMG_1140chemical was completed.  We kept in contact by phone and text and each time another infusion was completed we gave ourselves a “High-Five” text marking the event.

I arrived in Steven’s room after work on the evening of Day -5.  He looked pretty good and I couldn’t believe how both happy and sad I was to see that his hair was growing back.  It was coming in so fast and looked so dense from the way it looked when I dropped him off!  I was happy because it meant his body was finally working the way it was supposed to be working after the RICE chemo he completed in March.  However, it was sad because late in the evening he would be finished with his 16 dose marathon of Busulifan and on to the next drug. Day -4 started his doses of Etopcide – the chemical guaranteed to make your hair fallIMG_1137 out…again.  And then Days -3 and -2 brought  a mixture of Etopcide and Cytoxan, famous for nausea, head and body aches and a plethora of other fun side effects.  As usual, though, Steven is really showing such dignity and strength that I can’t believe we’re almost though this.  So far, he’s been energetic enough to shower each morning and walk a few laps around the floor each day.  He’s using his typical scheduling prowess to make sure he gets the shower finished before the housekeeping staff comes to disinfect his room, and to walk his laps before it’s time to get hooked up to the IV pole again.  (Which is starting to look like we’re building our own robot with all the additional pumps that keep getting snapped on to deliver all the concoctions!)  These little things sound so incidental to IMG_1134most people, but on this wing, there are patients who won’t even get out of bed, so the nurses are extremely encouraging to the few masked men and women who try to get a little exercise and keep their lives as normal as possible.

So as I type, Steven is dozing as the IV pump quietly clicks in the background and IMG_1146mixes in with the beats of the country music playing on Steven’s phone.  The shades are up and the daylight streams in as we gaze over the tree tops to the prairie in the distance.  As far as hospitals go, this is pretty nice and I can’t even complain about the sleep-sofa I’ve been camping on for the weekend.  This has become our home away from home for now and we’re glad to be here.

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I’D LOVE IT IF YOU SIGNED UP FOR MY E-MAILING LIST! IT’S JUST YOU AND ME, BABY! I DON’T SHARE MY TOP SECRET SUBSCRIBER LIST WITH ANYONE, SO YOU WON’T GET JUNK OR SPAM OR FOUND IF YOU’RE IN WITNESS PROTECTION! I JUST WANT TO LET YOU KNOW WHEN I POST A NEW ENTRY. SUBSCRIBE HERE

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widgetSteven just won’t get that paper route I’ve been suggesting. So as I continue my IMG_1136entertaining writing projects about our adventures with Cancer, we’d be so very grateful if you’d visit our Go Fund Me Page and drop a donation in the kitty. While Steven was napping yesterday I made myself a spread sheet and organized all the medical bills and insurance statements.  I almost drowned in papers…literally!  According to the spread sheet…we really do need help!

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