Things have improved briefly as I journey through the transplant procedure. There is much less chemotherapy and presently fewer side effects to mitigate. Although next week is the expected backlash from two immune systems at battle, today I enjoy a lull. This means my morning and evening cocktails are down to half-size and not so colorful. That is expected to change.
Desperately swollen with fluids and digestive unhappiness. Just look at that finger. Much too ugly for selfies. Walked three miles today.
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Too sick to post.
Today is DAY ZERO. That means that I received my stem cell/bone marrow transplant today. It is simple, entertainment-wise, really a non-event. The infusion itself only lasts a couple of hours. An nasty looking brownish-red IV bag of the donor's cells are simply fed into my bloodstream and they somehow know where to go and what to do. Of course this last part takes months, and lots of weird things are the result, such as graft-versus-host disease (not good), and the need to take all my childhood immunizations again after a year. But in the meantime, I have no real working immune system, which means that the next few weeks will be unpleasant and fairly dangerous.
The folks here at UCSF have done a good job of mitigating side effects, or else I am just lucky, but I have made it through the first week relatively intact. Occasional nausea and considerable fatigue are manageable so far but the chemo-induced brain fog is debilitating and the accumulation of fluid weight (1-2 pounds per day) makes me unrecognizable and uncomfortable. I have no illusions about next week though, and it is predicted to be the week straight from hell. We'll see, and I will let you know.
I thought I was doing relatively well this morning until I looked in the mirror. There will be no self-portraits today. A better idea is to share this morning's view from the solarium. A mile walking the halls and an hour on the bike watching that view helped -- along with generous doses of Jimmy Page, the Crowes, and other conventional anti-nausea, anti-seizure, and anti-liver damage drugs.
This is the photo I never in a zillion years would have expected: A selfie while spinning a stationary bike while getting chemo to destroy my bone marrow. I am in the solarium room of the hematology oncology floor of UCSF. In front of me (you can't see it) is the classic 11th floor corner office view of San Francisco and across the bay. That helps because this is chemotherapy round six of sixteen, and I can just feel it now beginning to zap me. My small world will get extraordinarily intense soon, so I am cramming the last bit of physical accomplishments in now. An hour on the bike, two miles of walking the halls and things are woozy. I can tell the doctors eat this up, this heroic beat-this-disease-or-die stuff, but this is just normal me and I am bored. After all I didn't volunteer for leukemia. The other patients may simply have a greater tolerance for hospitalization or ... as I learned from today's meditation class, greater acceptance. Whatever. We are who we are. I am the only one in here.