A real 10… with the spokes-models to prove it…
10 days since transplant, and Jim continues to amaze the nurses, doctors, and other patients with the speed and ferocity of his recovery.
This weekend brought a VERY HAPPY fluffy visitor
And today brought more energy, more work’n and chillin’, a “Happy New Birthday” sign from the nurses, and visits from Kenzie (OH NO I forgot to take a pic! And tomorrow she will be a wisdom-toothless little chipmunk!), Adam, and Chloe (and her friend Emma!)
Today also brought a new and interesting symptom -pain. Jim woke in the middle of the night with a deep pain in his back/pelvis. I know this doesn’t sound very interesting, and I absolutely can’t stand seeing him in pain! But it gets interesting, and he gets excited, when we think about what is causing the pain. Part of it is from Neupogen, which is the drug he started getting (per protocol) on day 8 to inspire production of white blood cells. The drug puts the bone marrow to work. But your bone marrow can’t work unless it is THERE. So the cool thing is that the pain is a sign of the first stages of “engraftment”.
Remember that during the transplant, the stem cells were administered through an IV into his vessels … so what happened next? If they just circulated around like the regular blood cells, they would live the lives of each blood cell type and die a natural death (like we talked about a few days ago). But stem cells are bits of DNA on a mission -they know where they are supposed to go, and they know how to get there. They “swim” their way to the fertile ground in the bone marrow space, and get themselves planted (There is an analogy in here somewhere that includes strong swimmers competing for fertile ground… I think my parents told me about it once upon a time. But I’m not going there in mixed company! And anyway, there is no competition in this circumstance- the fertile bone marrow ground has room for all stem cell swimmers!)
So “engraftment” is the process of those new (“grafted”) cells implanting themselves, going to work, and growing. And they work hard and grow fast, which can’t possibly be comfortable. It’s kind of like in the Harry Potter stories when they magically regrow an arm… but the screaming from behind the locked door tells you that growing a new arm is not a pain-free process. Luckily, growing a new immune system is not as painful as growing a new arm. And also pain meds are good. So on the flip side of some well-managed pain, Jim is experiencing a whole new level of energy today! They say that after a transplant, you see yourself in a whole new way. I think it’s fair to say that we are all seeing things from a new perspective…..
And the one thing that never changes, but continues to grow even faster and MORE ferociously than Jim’s new immune system, is our gratitude for family, friends, modern medicine and its disciples, employers, customers, dogs… I could quite literally go on all day! So I’ll just end with another inadequate – THANK YOU!
Here comes day 11!