Home! (On Good Behavior)

17 Jul

“Good news,” said BMT nurse practitioner Julia. “You’re CMV test came back negative – that’s two weeks in a row. You know we’re all excited that you’re doing so well, and we think it’s time to transition you home.”

Knowing the healthy benefits of being home, Julia and team were enthusiastic to send me the short 120 miles west, so long as I was continuing my upward curve – uppity (or at least stable) blood counts, absent graft-versus-host disease, no new infections, etc. – and two weeks’ worth of negative CMV tests. The second negative means they can spare my kidneys one dose per day of the tough anti-viral IV and switch to once daily doses at home, given through these things that look like baby bottles.

After a few days of arranging by Mayo, I got word that a week’s worth of home healthcare was set, specialty pharmacies identified, and my weekly doctor appointments at Mayo scheduled. My mom, sympathetic to my 72-day stint in Rochester and excited that I was leaving Mayo-land a whole 38 days early, left work early and picked me up amid a flash flood warning.

We left my elastic-waistband-denim-wearing, Wheel-of-Fortune-watching old friends at the Transplant House, only to arrive in New Ulm, a town that has nearly as heavy of a concentration of traffic-watching, home healthcare-receiving people. But alas, I’m still one of them.

But really, in these weeks at the Transplant House I’ve learned from several astounding people – old and young(er) – who are going through unimaginable trials. The man from Colorado who received a heart, liver and kidney at once to halt the progress of an organ-killing disease; the couple from Oregon who have been at the Transplant House for 10 months waiting for a set of lungs for his wife; the Mennonite girls who leave their own homes for six-month stretches to clean the kitchen I use at the Transplant House, sing to me in the hospital, and entertain my questions in the hallways.

The other condition of being homeward-bound is that I remain just as much of a hermit as I was in Rochester. No bars, restaurants, grocery stores, shopping malls. Cleanliness. Rest. Close watch. But of course I’m finding some things to do. I surprised my grandparents and a few other rellies by popping my still-bald head around a corner. I’ve already had a hearty meal of sauerkraut and dumplings (Czech, not German), cooked Jay Vancura-style. I even made it home in time for Bavarian Blast, but the combination of Amazon-level dew points, kegs and kegs of beer, and crowds make it an anti-Jenna event this year. Good thing I’ll be back next year.

Dirndyl and Lederhosen Leads to Questionable Polka Dancing, 2010

Polka Band Pulled By an Old John Deere Tractor at the 2010 Bavarian Blast Parade

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14 Responses to “Home! (On Good Behavior)”

  1. Sandy July 17, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    Hooray for heading home! Congrats on getting well and having a lovely New Ulm filled time. And I am super impressed by the people you shared the Transplant House with. Sounds like you were in good company. Hopefully you continue improving in great strides and you’ll be able to head back to D.C. soon enough!

  2. Danny Schreiber July 17, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

    I didn’t make it to B Blast either this year. That means you, Jimmy and I weren’t there. It must’ve been pretty lame.

    And so excited you’re home! The benefits of which start with getting the Journal delivered to your doorstep daily (with great stories such as this http://on.fb.me/nXarIV).

  3. Patty Adolphs July 17, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

    WOW! This is huge! Like everything else you are doing. I’m sending prayers and love and good wishes and I know you will continue this remarkable forward march. You are incredibly inspirational. Bless you and your dear family!

  4. erika July 17, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    Oh, Jenna…..You are just WONDERFUL!!!

  5. Nicole W. July 17, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    There’s no place like home. Glad you got to head back early!

  6. Linda Hornick July 18, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    Whoooo Hoooo Jenna! So happy for you that you got to come home way early!!! I left work early on Friday and we went out of town so did not hear the news that your Mom was going to get you. Your super positive attitude and all the prayers are working!!! How nice that you are back home in New Ulm and you’ve already had sauerkraut and dumplings. I’m sure with the heat and high dew points that attendance at the Blast was probably not as high as normal anyhow and maybe it’ll be a little more comfortable next year when you can go. I”m sure your grandparents and relatives were just so thrilled to see you. So, so happy for you Jenna!

  7. Ashlee Suker July 18, 2011 at 7:08 am #

    This is such wonderful news to wake up to on a Monday morning 🙂 So happy for you Jenna. You’re such a rockstar!!

  8. Vicki July 18, 2011 at 8:22 am #

    Best news! We all know there is no place like home. Praying for continued great strides. You are amazing.

  9. Lucia July 18, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    Fabulous news! Welcome home, Jenna:)

  10. Clare July 18, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    Thank you for making my Monday the best ever! As Ben said one time we were leaving the hospital–“I’m outta here!!!”

  11. Greg Kaiser July 18, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    Yay!!! Good for you!!! Way to go!!!

  12. Kirsten July 18, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    AMAZING!! Such good news to hear that you are home early! LOVE the peace out photos. 😀

    Also, as someone who is 50% Czech (and may have just brought frozen Czech dumplings back from Berwyn, IL in a cooler packed with ice yesterday, because they can’t be found in Minnesota), I would have to say that I HIGHLY approve of your choice of a sauerkraut and dumplings meal. When do you venture into the land of svickova, scrambled egg dumplings and kugelis? Yumm!!


    • Cyndi Hillesheim July 18, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

      So glad you are finally home! Way to go!

  13. Angie July 21, 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    So excited to hear you’re home! Enjoy every minute of the small town splendor and keep feeling better 🙂

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