Sunday, November 1, 2009

Transplant #1

As the summer of 2001 went on the more free i became- like I had detached from the world floating away like balloon boy. I hadn't a care in the world but riding my bike and when the next joint would be lit. Katharine and I took off to my favorite place in BC...Penticton for 3 or 4 days of even more chillen. We rented one of those semi detached cabins near SkaHa Lake and got into our routine; little breakfast , light workout, stroll to the beach puffing on a doob. Later on we hit up one of P town's many attractions....batting cages, go carts, beach it all! Then out of the blue while laying on Skaha beach my phone rang and on the other end was the lady from the bone marrow transplant program telling me they had found a donor and I was to be admitted on Aug 8 to begin radiation, chemotherapy and my transplant would be Aug 15th. It's funny it never even crossed my mind that they might not find a donor which is the case for too many people. I don't think I was thinking period. In that moment everything changed again, I was thinking and going to have to deal with this-it's really wasn't a dream.

As much as I tried to continue the endless summer it wasn't the same. In a few short weeks I was about to get very sick, maybe even die. Those who have been through these sorts of things know what I'm talking about when I say they lay it all out for you. You have to do test after test, interviews with doctors feeding you every stat available. I suppose it's protocol but how many times do you need to tell someone the mortality rate of their procedure or disease. I know I'm sick just tell me about the people who survive and are living a normal life....THAT'S ALL ANYONE WANTS TO HEAR! I was scared, worried about Katharine and entering unknown territory.

In the morning just before I was admitted Katharine's dad and my friend Brian (also Jay's father) booked me a private flying lesson out in Ladner. I had spent a fair amount of time with Brian riding motorcycles all over the city and enjoyed being around him. Anyway there I was flying over the city in this tiny little plane...i'll never forget it but it was hard to fully enjoy it knowing in a few hours I was facing hell. Not more than an hour after we landed I walked through the doors of VGH where I was to spend the next month. I started by receiving total body radiation twice a day for three days...a strange experience cause the effects of that shit is irreversible. It alone reduced my lung capacity to 70% at best to this day. The next three days I received lethal dose chemotherapy which means they give you the max amount of chemo your body can handle without killing you. The combination brings all your counts to zero so you have no blood cells or immune system to fight the donor marrow. *Bone marrow is responsible for manufacturing our blood cells. The next day I had my transplant which is anticlimatic to say the least. I believe my donor is from somewhere in Europe but that's all i know. We were allowed to exchange letters a year after my transplant but then I never heard back...i'll try again one day but that's another story.

The transplant happened at midnight while Katharine and my mom played cards in the other room. A doctor and nurse monitored me while they hung what looked like a bag of blood (the donor bone marrow) as it dripped in over an hour through the hicman line they had inserted in my chest when I was admitted. They're a pain but necessary when receiving so many different meds because they have three lines. My stay in the hospital was a real challenge, I was new to this world not ever having stayed in hospital before. As days passed the chemo and radiation began to take their affects and i became weaker and weaker. The staff was amazing as was my support group but you have to dig deep and stay strong. I busted out of there in 31 days and spent the next several months going to and from the VGH BMT day clinic. I'd lost 30lbs and couldn't do a push up not to mention had no blood counts but I was so eager to ride a motorcycle on my first day out I borrowed Brian's harley and managed to ride it to the clinic that day for my treatment. The nurses/doctors weren't impressed but I was happy ripping down the highway at full I was in control. Katharine was amazing through it all and we had a lot of support but all I needed was rest. There were some scares early on the most noteworthy happened about a month after I got out. I became unwell and my counts began crashing back down to zero. I got the call and my doc told me it was one of two things the transplant had failed or the cancer had come back either way I was done.........

1 comment:

  1. You've got friends on the other side of the world following this daily and praying that you get better.

    We all appreciate that you are sharing your experience with us as we all care for you. Keep em coming and keep fighting!!

    J&K Downunder