We made it. To the Gift of Life Transplant House we came on Thursday – and oh how up-and-down my hospital exit was.
We knew early Thursday that I was home free, but of course I needed platelets, discharge papers and a prescription before I left. At the same time Jimmy, who had just taken his DO and MD Boards in the last four days, was making up time on his way home for the snarly Chicago traffic that morning . We were both just itching to get away – he to New Ulm and then Hackensack with his family and I just four blocks down the road.
(The Transplant House, or The Halfway House as my mom likes to call it, is comfortably hugged by the Mayo Clinic and St. Mary’s Hospital just four blocks on either side. It keeps all of us on just a little less Ativan.)
Just as I was waiting outside the hospital in tears – I’m talking seriously weeping because my prescription was four-times unfilled and my mom was finally (huff, tear) getting the car, Jimmy pulled up and surprised me with an unannounced visit on his transition from I-90 to Hwy 14. My mom, now driving to the front of the hospital, sees me embracing some guy. “Oh no, she’s so pathetic-looking a strange man thought she needed a hug. What am I going to do with this girl?” Needless to say, I was just fine after that. (BTW, Jimmy is coming here starting Tuesday (!). My mom keeps reminding him, “Medical school starts next week.”)
The first thing I did when I got out of the hospital was go for a drive. Not me – no, you should see the bag of meds that keep me from driving – but just looking out the window. That’s about all I can do because I’m supposed to avoid groups of people. Who knows what they have. But I’m the proud new owner of several Mayo-stock masks and I can go outside, so I’m happy.
The Halfway House is wonderful. The accommodations are completely above what I expected. Granted, I’m used to a nurse and/or IV pole waking me up every two to three hours and I still can’t get that hospital stink off my clothes, but this place is easily distinguishable. With that comes a bunch of rules, but hey, I don’t want some sick person not using the water machine correctly and I definitely don’t want that guy down the hall who hasn’t taken a shower in three days to walk around in bare feet. (Most of the people staying here are OCD-clean without the rules anyway.)
So what’s next? Well, lots of things. We met with Julia Friday and my blood counts were smashing. I still have a “very naïve” immune system as Julia put it, but they’re good for where I am. My neutrophils are now a hefty 1010 and we’re waiting for all these -cytes type of white blood cells to follow their lead. I only needed a 3½-hour transfusion over the weekend. “An immune system in a bottle,” Julia called it.
Tomorrow is a big day. I’m getting another bone marrow biopsy to see where things stand. Are there any blasts in my blood? (Yuck – remember that dirty word?) Is the MDS actually gone? And the best – Have I acquired my donor’s DNA yet? Yes, my blood and bone marrow will actually have the DNA of a stranger. The rest of my body is me. I’m already thinking of creative petty crimes to get away with. We won’t get the results for a few days, but please send extra prayers on this one. It sort of shows if the BMT worked or not.
But the bottom line is I am so grateful to my doctors and nurses who helped me get out of the hospital a little banged up but in pretty good condition in 40 days. A wonderful team they are.
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