I've been at MD Anderson for 19 days. My stem cells were harvested and frozen and await insertion.
Here's a little summary of what led me to leave MD Anderson AMA on Friday.
First, I made the mistake of reading that Sally Ann Roberts collected enough stem cells for her sister Robin Roberts in two sessions - so naturally I thought they would harvest the required 5 million cells in 2 sessions. I was so very wrong. I also harvested during the snow days and the MLK holiday in Houston which added to the cluster.
I'm a CPA, so naturally I was keeping track of my stem cell collection.
First day - 1.23 million
Second day - 1.33 million
Third day - 860K cells (MLK Day)
Fourth day - 550K cells
Fifth day - 330K cells
Sixth day - 680K cells (at this point I had collected 4.98 million cells)
Seventh day - no idea, because I went left AMA (Friday)
After the third or fourth day of collection I should have started receiving a "boost" shot at night to increase collection the next morning, but because of the weather most of the clinics were closed early and the doctors didn't pull the trigger on the boost shot. I finally started receiving the boost shot before the sixth and seventh collection. When I got the call that I hadn't collected enough cells on the sixth day I was very confused. My total showed 4.98 million which was pretty darn close to the 5 million goal. And I questioned the nurse, you might say I grilled the nurse, but I was told my numbers were wrong and I needed to collect on the 7th day.
When I showed up to collect on the 7th day I went to battle over these numbers. And what I finally learned was that each patient's collection is tallied on a simple piece of white paper in a binder (don't get me started on this method). As I reviewed this
I dug the Xanax out of my bag and calmed down during the 4 hour collection and started to casually ask WHY it was necessary to return the next day. "Blood work", they said. "It's part of our process", they said.
That was the point that I decided "my process" was to pack the car on Friday and head home. Forget that Saturday morning blood work. Better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission... how's that for my "process"?
So I got to see Morgan play in her final JV Soccer game. I sampled 5 different king cakes, ate a shrimp po-boy and I pretended that life was normal for a few days.
After a few days of testing I'll head into the hospital for a month for 8 days of chemo and the stem cell insertion. I printed 16x20 and 8x10 pictures to plaster all over the walls of the hospital room. I'm as mentally ready as I can be. Once the hospital stay is over I have two final weeks in Houston and then I should be home on the road to recuperation. I'm making lists of all of the amazing things we are going to do once I'm healthy again and the lists include plenty of laughs. Hope you can join us in some of those laughs...