Saturday, January 31, 2009

New stem cells signed, sealed, delivered

I meant to post yesterday evening at my leisure while awaiting my cells, which I thought were due to arrive at the cell manipulation lab at 9:30 p.m. and would therefore come to me around 11. (Cell manipulation lab sounds so futuristic; I am grateful that in terms of scientific advances, the future is now.) Then Helen, my nurse last night, said they would be ready for actual infusion around 9:30 and that she would begin pre-medicating me at 9 with Ativan and Benadryl, at which point I got all discombobulated and couldn’t eat my dinner, let alone write.

It’s not that you have to do anything to receive the cells; you just lie there and try to stay calm. But it feels momentous, especially when they hook you up to a monitor tracking your heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen saturation. Of course it also feels enormous because I know how important those cells are to me. The infusion took about 45 minutes and went smoothly most of the way while Helen watched the monitor and me. I dozed on and off. We had the TV on ABC’s “20-20,” which was doing a piece on a woman who gave birth to a dwarf (or is it “little person” now). She had other children, but she wanted her small child to have a sibling soul-mate, so she adopted another little person from China, and the two successfully navigated childhood together.

You might wonder why I bring this up; it’s just part of the scene, in an odd way.

The infusion had just about finished when I reacted, either to the cells or to a fever I was going to get anyway. I started shaking vigorously, and my heart rate went up. Helen gave me 25 mg. of Demerol, which didn’t stop the shakes. She paged a doctor who came in quickly. I got another dose of Demerol, more Benadryl, hydrocortisone and some Tylenol. Also they put me on oxygen.

Concerned that the shaking and shivering and fever would deter my new baby stem cells, I asked the doctor about it, and she said not to worry. Everything calmed down in about half an hour, and, after soaking through two hospital gowns, I finally got a few hours sleep. Today I am a little puffy and bleary-eyed, and I’m starting to feel the beginning of the predicted mouth sores. Somehow, my platelets went up overnight on their own, from about 10 to about 40, so I don’t need any “products” today. I think I will take that as a good omen.

Diane brought me a birthday present yesterday: a card with a pop-up bouquet and a bag filled with the other kind of product that I now need after my transplant. It contained shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash and lip gloss, all in pretty perk-me-up colors. (After transplant, you’re supposed to start with everything clean and new and throw out old products.) On the card, she wrote, “Here’s to a wonderful and healthy life with your new mystery donor!”

Last night, as the evening weirdness settled in on me, Diane reminded me, “You’re getting another shot at a whole new life. It’s great. It’s the miracle of modern science.”

It’s wonderful to have a baby sister who anticipates my every need, who picks me up and who washes, folds and delivers my laundry with a smile.

Thank you everyone for your support – your thoughts, prayers, comments, good vibes, messages, calls, visits and cards really mean a lot to me. The jokes help too.

Oh, about that fruit that I wrote about on the last post. The dietary technician came in and put an end to that. I am happy enough for now with my canned peaches. I don't think I could eat an orange anyway.

23 comments:

Mieke said...

Yay! Happy new cell birthday Ronni! The shakes and fever sound unpleasant, but if it didn't bother the baby cells, then you're well on your way. Great about your numbers going up on their own too. All that positive thought perhaps! So glad things went well, I'm thrilled you finally had it done, jez that was a lot of waiting around. Smooches and get all better quickly!

Howard said...

Delighted you posted this and are keeping your cyber-pals current. You've got plenty of support and deservedly so. It gives me a lift to know your return trip has begun.

Smooth sailing....

CLL SPOUSE said...

Yes, as Howard wrote, smooth sailing. May the waters be calm and the ripples be few and insignificant.

I was SO glad to see a new post from you and so soon. The words 'stem cell transplant' were spoken to us for the 1st time yesterday when we went to see a CLL expert several hours away, so we're processing that and the possibility of participating in a clinical trial beforehand. It's a lot to think about, of course. But I was thinking of you all day and was really glad to see you'd posted.

May you soon be talking about this hospital stay in past tense, Ronni.

PJ said...

Sounds like your body had a wild party last night. My heart rate went up just reading your post.

Here's to the mahvelous miraculous new you!

Nelle said...

I am so happy to know that the new cells have reached their destination and that now you have them and can start on a new path of good health. Hope the mouth sores go away quickly. Thanks for the update.

Wendy S. Harpham, MD said...

Happy New Beginning, Ronni! With lots and lots and lots of hope, Wendy

Jim said...

Ronni,

I love that you have a new shot at this. You tell such a good story.

Peace be with you as the co-mingling begins.

Jim

Joan Vohl Hamilton said...

Hi Ronni,
Walter and I are home tonight alone (more of that to come next year), and wanted to check in on your progress...we're delighted to see such good news here! I was out to the fields below the Berkshire Hills Music Academy today (saw tracks of a bobcat, and could clearly see where she had sat and contemplated the dingle.)I sent a prayer along your way. I know it reached its destination.
Here's another good omen: saw the first robin of spring! Yep! The hardy bird winged its way into the Magic Forest. (We'll trek there when you get home and stonger.)
Lizzie wants to know when she can play with your gorgeous lab again. I told her "pretty darned soon."

susiegb said...

So glad to hear all went well Ronni! I suddenly thought about you yesterday and thought, maybe it's happening right now!!

Keep us posted when you can - and lots of love and best wishes!

Michelle B said...

Yea....new babies growing inside you. May they make you strong and healthy. Can't wait to see you again in South Hadley. Can you recieve a package with a DVD in it? I have Newsies for you, hot off the presses.

Don Treeger said...

These new cells are the key to an awesome twist serve!! Happy Birthday!!!

Teri said...

I second all the other positive comments! I've had a job where I read medical journals all day. From hearing about the controversy regarding stem cell research, and reading the journals, it's amazing to see it come to fruition in an actual human being...and being described by a REAL person and not just a case study in black and white. Your shakes reminded me of the very benign shakes that I had after foot surgery and the delivery of one of my babies. I'm sure they couldn't just assume that it's the benign, nuisance kind. You are amazing. You are breaking new ground. Couldn't have happened to a nicer person!

Susan C said...

Happy birthday, Ronni. I remember the post you did a few months ago about the confusion over qll the new birthdays associated with all your stem cell transplants. Never in a million years did I think you would be going through this again and adding another new birthday to the mix.

You'll be celebrating all year. Can't wait until you can come to California and we can toast with a glass of champagne - the good stuff.

Ann said...

Happy Birthday, Ronni. I'm hoping you have many, many more to come.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Ronni! You are so amazing. Just good feelings about these baby cells. Keep thinking about the sun on your face, a nice long walk at Mount Holyoke, everyone praying for you to be home soon. All good things are headed your way.
Hugs, peace and love. Carol

StevenN said...

Hi Ronnie, Looking forward to your return to the lunch bunch at the newspaper. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

LR said...

Glad the big event turned out to be a non-event, Ronni.

Happy new birthday and here's to many many more.

Kevin O'Hare said...

Great news Ronni, the toughest, strongest, coolest cookie I know! Pulling for you every day........

Kev O'Hare

Samantha said...

You are amazing Ronni. Happy Re-Birthday!!

Sam xx

donna said...

Hi Ron, Tried to blog you yesterday but your site was too busy and I couldn't get through. You have so many caring friends! You're on the right track again and this time there will be no detours. I can already feel the sun on our shoulders as we tear up a court somewhere this summer. It's going to be so fun! Keep eating your cheerios. YAY!

pampunster said...

Dearest Ronni, Happy Birthday to You! i know that you shall ex-cell (couldn't resist!) in all ways -- in health, strength and happiness...Your writing is so affirmative, consoling and wonderful for so many...thank you, our Heroine of Friends...

Sarah said...

Happy Birthday! I've been following your blog for months - while very human you are definitely part superhero! Your story has been helpful to me as I navigate my own journey (Day 125). Thank you! One step, one minute at a time; you're amazing. Sending you thoughts of healing days and restful nights.
Sarah

CogSci Librarian said...

What a great story, Ronni - so hopeful. I am thinking of you and wishing you well.