Day Minus One

Quick update on today: Dad’s doing super-great. He ate three meals, walked 16 laps around the floor, rinsed with saline three times (to avoid getting mucositis, which causes nasty mouth sores), used his spirometer (to exercise his lungs and prevent pneumonia), and started working on a puzzle I brought.

And then, he got this card. (One of the nurse’s sisters is a teacher, and she has her class make these for patients. I love that “Aapril” is “thining about” my Dad every day. I can’t even.) And of course I hung it up in his room.

One More Reason to Love Siteman
Dad’s night nurse was telling us tonight about a patient who brought his own furniture to the hospital. He went to IKEA and got a dining table and chairs, an armoire, and a fancy floor lamp, and the hospital moved out their furniture to make room for his. He also brought his own linens—all cammo, apparently. You guys, they let him completely rearrange his space so he’d be more comfy. Again, I can’t even. I love these people.

A Possible Delay
Dad’s donor cells aren’t expected to arrive until 8 pm tomorrow night, so there’s a chance he won’t have the transplant until Friday (which totally wrecks my May the Fourth thing, but whatever). If the cells actually arrive at 8 pm, and if the cryogenics lab gets them processed, and if the attending physician is open to coming in to oversee the transplant that late, it’ll happen sometime between 10:30 pm and midnight. Otherwise, we’ll have to wait until Friday. Dad’s fine with whatever, and I’ll post a photo whenever it happens.

Steps 17-23
On Sunday night, I channeled my inner Buzzfeed and put together Stem Cell Transplants in 16 Easy Steps. Today, I got a question in response: What is happening in step 17? Awesome question. Here’s my best guess:

17. Once Dads’ new stem cells engraft, we wait—ever so patiently—for his blood counts to come back up. That’ll take a week or two or three. The count about which we care the most is his Absolute Neutrophil Count (ANC), because neutrophils are a particularly important type of white blood cell (WBC). (For those of you who crammed for your 11th grade physiology final and subsequently forgot everything, WBCs are the guys that fight infection.) (Or girls. I probably shouldn’t gender blood cells, eh?) (You’re welcome, Emily.) (<—-That’s my smash-the-patriarchy kid.)

18. When his ANC reaches comfy levels (I seem to remember 1000, but I’m not certain now), we spring him from this place.

19. And then he gets to come back for follow-up. Frequently. Particularly during the first 100 days or so. And during that time, he’ll be taking all sorts of anti-rejection medication, one of which requires him to avoid eating grapefruit. I have no idea why.

20. During the follow-up period, his immune system will be fragile and graft vs. host disease is a possibility, so if he experiences any sort of I-think-I-might-be-getting-sick symptoms, he goes back to hospital immediately. (We’ve been told it’s not unusual to be readmitted a time or two, and we’re not to be discouraged if that happens.)

21. As soon as he gets the all-clear, I suspect he and my mother will pack up the car and drive to a beach somewhere.

22. And then there will be projects.

23. And there will also be trips to Ireland and Scotland.

Wait… I forgot a step.

21B. There will be consumption of Smithwick’s.

Again, that’s just my best guess. (It’s a pretty educated one.)