Ready to go.

Yesterday was a very full day.  We left home at 7:30 AM and returned back at 7:00 PM.  Needless to say we slept well last night.  The subject of the day was Bone Marrow Transplant, and while we didn't learn anything new in terms of the overall scope of my transplant, we did assimilate a lot of details that helped fill in some of the holes in our understanding, or answered questions we had on our list.  We had a meeting with Dr. Horwitz, where we reviewed various details of the procedures, and then went through several consent forms, which detailed every possible complication that might occur.  At least we are now well informed.  We attended a New Patients Class, which is required as part of the overall preparation phase.  They really got into quite a bit of detail, and gave us some realistic expectations of how things will go at each step along the way.  After 2 hours of discussion, and lots of Q&A, our brains were starting to reach the saturation point.  Add to that 5 or 6 different tests (ie pulmonary and cardio) and it filled out our day with not much time to spare.

On the way home, Holly and I were discussing what we had heard and seen, and many of the new people we had met.  Our conclusion was that we picked up a lot more understanding about the many steps that we will take in the coming days and weeks, and we also had the opportunity to meet several of the people who make up the team that will be taking us on our journey.  Looking at my chemotherapy treatments over the last 7 months, during my typical 7 week chemotherapy cycle, I would see the doctors 4 times and receive 6 infusions.  The rest of the time was spent at home resting and recuperating.  By contrast, the main part of my transplant will be much shorter and much more intense.  I have compared it to getting hit with a bat during the chemo, and getting hit by a bus during transplant.  During the heart of the procedure, the high dose chemo will destroy most of my white and red blood cells, as well as my marrow and immune system.  The harvested stem cells will then be infused (transplanted) back into my body to rescue me, and begin the cellular rebuilding process.  During this period of several weeks my body has almost no defenses against any type of infection, and I am extremely vulnerable.  It is during this period that I will be watched like a hawk, day and night, for any signs of trouble, so that antibiotics or other measures can be started immediately.  So during this period I will be monitored and treated by what can literally be described as a TEAM.  24/7 there will be several medical professionals nearby, with the knowledge and skills to recognize and respond to any signs of trouble.  This Team will have my life in their hands, so I had better have a lot of confidence in each and everyone of them.  Our visit yesterday went a long way towards beginning to establish that feeling of confidence and trust.  The Duke Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic is a very impressive place.

Next Wednesday I will be admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay, and will receive 2 days of chemotherapy, which is described as a "priming" my body to produce more stem cells.  Several days of growth factor injections (Neupogen) and then the following week they will begin to harvest my stem cells.  Up to this point, my transplant was an event that was somewhere off in the future, and reasonably easy to push into the back of your mind.  That is no longer the case.  It is now time to get this show on the road, and I am ready to go, so as they say "Bring it on".  I'm psyched, my TEAM (including my amazing wife) is at the top of their game, and the whistle is ready to blow.  All of that, and God Almighty as my coach, and this victory is almost assured.  Who needs a Super Bowl.  We're going to beat this!!

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