A New Beginning

Stem Cell LabToday is the day.  On the transplant calendar it’s Day 0…To camels it Hump Daaaaaay…For everyone else, it’s just Wednesday! But to the entire 7th floor of Shands Cancer Hospital, today is the start of a new life of health.  Everyone is aware that today is our Day 0,  and I’ve been getting huge smiles and high-fives from all of the staff as I walk up and down the halls.  First thing this morning, I cleared out some of my stuff from Steven’s room and stowed it in the car.  There will be a constant parade of people in and out of here today, and I don’t want anyone tripping over a stray flip flop.

Steven’s stem cells are  coming back to him all cleaned up and defrosted after being frozen for almost a month since collection.  The bags are thawed one at a time as the prior bag gets infused.  This isn’t a pot roast here.  The stem cells don’t sit in a pile on the counter top getting poked every once in a while to see if it’s getting mushy!  And Stem Cells for Transplantnothing gets hurried along by a few minutes in the nuker.  The thawing part is just as precise and planned as the collection!  There are seven IV bags that will be transported from the Stem Cell lab.  That in itself it pomp and circumstance like you’ve never seen in a hospital.  Each bag delivered individually by a lab person.  Today, we have Amy and she’s smiling, happy and as excited as we are!  The ID numbers on the bags are read out loud to our infusion nurse du jour, Barbara, who double checks Steven’s hospital ID wrist band..each time.  This is the same procedure that was used when the lab picked up the bags during apheresis.  Except during collection, the bags were taken away in a very small Playmate cooler, like you see on TV when someone gets a new heart rushed in to the ER in the nick of time.  If the Playmate cooler was a briefcase, it would be like Ernst and Young delivering the envelope determining the winner of the Miss America pageant!  Today, Amy is bringing the bags cradled in her hands like a precious newborn, our personal Ernst and Young delivery gal bringing the crown to our Mr. America!

FullSizeRenderSteven got his pre-medication of Benadryl (which seems to be a staple in the drug pantry.  I think everyone gets Benedryl at some point during every hospital stay).  This time though, it was in an injection going right into his port, for quick absorbtion.  He also got injections of a steroid and a diuretic to flush out his system.  And then it began!

There is an odd odor that comes from the preservative that gets added to the stem cells in the lab.  During our education we  got the down-low on this particular oddity, only everyone described it differently.  We were warned that patients can sometimes get a strange taste in their mouths from the preservative that was akin to garlic, rotten fruit and a myriad of other unpleasant aromas.  Well, Steven and I can both smell something…it’s not bad and definitely not garlic.  I can’t even put my finger on what it Trifustion port in actionsmells like, but if I ever smell it again, it will be the aroma of a second chance and that’s a good thing.

The first bag seemed to take about 15 minutes.  The second bag looked smaller and drained in less time than it took to hook it up.  Barbara calls Amy near the end of each bag to start defrosting the next one.  And then it comes.  It seems that this will take up the rest of the morning and early afternoon.  And if the science of all this wasn’t so unbelievable, the whole day would be rather boring and anti-climactic.  For us, we’re just counting down the bags the same way we counted down the 16 doses of chemo that was infused a week ago.  Today is Day 0 and we’re looking to bag 0 to be Steven’s day for winning the Mr. America crown!  So with 6 bags down and the 7th  dripping now, I hope that crown is all shined up!

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2 thoughts on “A New Beginning

  1. I’ve got a pair of Margaritaville slip on deck shoes that I just love to wear without socks…my wife makes me keep them out of the bedroom…..is it a smell like that?!!! Good luck Steven!!!!

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  2. Reblogged this on The World According to Alexandra and commented:

    I’ve been trying to be a better person in the last year. One of the big challenges I gave myself was to try living by that old adage, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Notice how long it’s been since I wrote anything?

    Since my last post, I’ve been trying to find some way to put a good spin on my new career path and I’m just having a backwash of words building up in my pipes like a men’s room toilet in a bus station…stuffed with TP and a cherry bomb! So while I continue to figure out how to harness the overspray that’s coming, I’m happy to repost my entry from this day last year. Today we celebrate Steven’s 1 year anniversary of his Stem Cell Transplant and we are both filled with joy, hope and gratitude for all the good that is in our lives.

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