Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sometimes a gloomy day is not so gloomy

We had some pretty impressive storms in the Garden State this week. On Wednesday and Thursday the sky went from gray to gloomy, to dark and then exploded in sheets of rain and wind. I watched from my hospital window in wonder as I tried not to think about the importance of these days in my treatment plan.

Wednesday was Day 14 in Treatment World. (Day 1 begins with the first day of chemotherapy.) On my regimen, this is the day I was scheduled for a mid cycle bone marrow biopsy. This test determines if the chemo is working, or if I need more treatment. Getting the leukemia under control is necessary to proceed with the transplant, so I was anxious to learn how I was doing. The best result would be for my bone marrow to be completely empty -- no leukemia blasts.

I had the biopsy Wednesday afternoon, and on Thursday afternoon, Dr. Goldberg reported that I'm doing great: no blasts detected in my completely empty bone marrow! Now we have to wait to see what my bone marrow recovers. When my counts come back, I'll have another biopsy in 3-4 weeks to determine if I am in complete remission. This is the best state for a transplant to be most effective.

It's kind of freaky that I'm functioning as well as I am with no bone marrow. I feel pretty good, although I still get transfusions for red blood and platelets when they drop below certain levels. My side effects with this treatment, except for a wicked rash, were minimal and I made it through with little drama once the chemo was over. I still have my hair, although that will change when I get chemo prior to the transplant.

I'll be here for about a week or so, till my counts come up, then I'll be able to go home for about a month to recover. All this time, the search for an unrelated donor continues. My sister was not a match, but I'm optimistic that a donor will be found. It's a very complicated process that takes time. Transplanting a person's blood factory, either with stem cells or bone marrow, is pretty intense. The more I think about it, the more science-fiction-made-real it becomes.

The entire process is a bit overwhelming, so I'm trying to take things one step at a time. For now, I've overcome the first hurdle. I'm looking forward to getting home, veering off the In-Room Dining menu, playing with Sadie and enjoying the Fall colors. I've come to appreciate even the gloomy days.



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