We Made It (Four Blocks)

12 Jun

The Exit

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.

Living “Communally” 

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.)

Arriving at the Gift of Life Transplant House

The kitchen

The dining room

My dad, Jack and me grilling in the backyard of the Transplant House for Father's Day

Next Up

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.

One of my favorite nurses, Jeanie, and me on the night before I left the hospital

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15 Responses to “We Made It (Four Blocks)”

  1. Ashlee Suker June 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    Jenna I’m so happy you were able to make it to the transplant house! I hope the stay is much more comfortable than it was at the hospital 🙂 And I hope things continue to get better and better…

  2. Pam Schmid June 12, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    Prayers coming your way, Jenna. So happy you are in the half way house and can feel the sunshine. Love! Pam

    • Cyndi Hillesheim June 12, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

      So happy for you!! Say hi to your mom!

  3. Karen June 12, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    Hooray for your new freedom (and surprise visit from Jimmy)!! Will definitely be praying for good test results this week!

  4. Clare June 12, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    Awesome news!! ANC up! New digs and hopefully good news after the next bone marrow aspiration. I am giving platelets on Tuesday at NIH–thinking of you and my Ben the whole time. I am watching the Tony Awards now, are you?? I think you need to plan a trip to NY when life calms down to take it a show…..anyway, just wanted you to know we are thinking of you!

  5. Jan Borchers June 12, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    I’m so happy to hear your good news, and that you’ve made it to the ‘halfway house’!! I’m rooting for you all the way, girl! And God-bless Jimmy’s pea-pickin’ little (BIG) heart! Here’s to ‘foreign’ DNA showing up soon! Thinking of you, Jenna…..

  6. kat woodward June 13, 2011 at 5:57 am #

    Hey Lady, I’m happy to hear the good news!! I’ll continue to think about you until we meet again in Paris 🙂

  7. Linda Hornick June 13, 2011 at 6:23 am #

    Yayyyyy, Jenna! Glad you got to the Transplant House on Thursday, Last night I just told my husband that I was waiting for another email to your blog so I could get an update. That was nice that Jimmy drove thru to see you and glad it wasn’t some stranger on the street giving you a hug! Glad your numbers are up. Praying for you every day!

  8. Sally Squires June 13, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    Way to go, Jenna! It’s so great to hear that you are now at the “halfway house” as your mother calls it. I am not at all surprised that you and your wonderful supportive team have achieve this major milestone. And how about that Jimmy! What a great surprise! Lots of continued prayers for your continued recovery. You are awesome!

  9. shelley schugel June 13, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    So glad you are out of the hospital. Fourty days is a really long time. What a great surprise by Jimmy – just the medicine you needed. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Now you get to meet some new people and make new friends.

  10. Betsy (Willing) Price June 13, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    the whole DNA of a stranger thing makes me think of those people who are born with 2+ sets of DNA…each child they have can end up having a different DNA make up…
    glad things are definitely looking up for you! and YAY to getting to spend time with Jimmy!
    will be continuing to pray for you ^-^

  11. Lori Thom June 13, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    Hi Jenna, glad to hear that you made it to the transplant house-assisted living as your mom calls it. Great that you will be able to spend time with Jimmy as well-that is so important. Look forward to hearing how well you are doing!!!!!

  12. angelbebe77 June 15, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    A click here and a click there lead me to your blog… because of you I joined the registry for BeTheMatch.org. Fingers crossed that I can help.

    I’m glad things are starting to look up, and am saying many prayers that the test results are in your favor!!!

  13. elmer & lois Guggisberg June 22, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    Well now, if my memory serves me right The Transplant House is new isn’t it? Or at least moved. We met with Bryan’s heart recipient at the old Transplant House and that was nothing to sneeze at, so, dispite all your restraints I’d say your in pretty good accomodations. So glad things are going well for you, think about you and pray for you often. So, are you the least bit hungry for Pork choplett, mashed potatos and sauerkraut!!? I have to say it make my mouth water. the only down side is that Jimmy might walk by the buns and leave his mark. Have a good night. Love ya, Lois


  1. “Honey, That Is A Girl” « The Redhead Report - June 23, 2011

    […] I finally updated photos of the Gift of Life Transplant House to my post “We Made It (Four Blocks)“ if you want to check it […]

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