Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Day Before

I guess I should get back into the groove of blogging because, you know, I won't have anything better to do for the next month.  Today, we had our day before the transplant visit (this is the third one). But this time, we're all good!  Derek had gotten sick last week so they pushed the transplant back a week.  Tomorrow, he officially checks in to his glamorous and fun filled stay at the Mayo Clinic.  He got checked out by a P.A. and then his doctor came in, gave his blessing, and we left.  We are excited but seem to have a looming cloud hanging over us. 

For those who have no idea how this type of transplant works, this is a 3-6 week process within the hospital.  He goes in tomorrow and has surgery to get a catheter put into his chest.  Which looks a little like this:

It dangles from the outside of his chest and makes it so multiple fluids can get to him.  It is pretty gross looking seeing it on a person, so you're lucky this is all you get to see. 

He may also start his anti-rejection meds tomorrow but I do not know for sure.  On Thursday, he will start chemo.  He is in remission but the chemo is to kill off his immune system completely.  He will do chemo everyday for a week.  Next Friday, he will get his brother Jason's bone marrow cells injected into him.    Jason also has a process where he gets an injection everyday for a few days that stimulates the stem cells into his bones and then pushes those cells out into his blood.  Jason will then get his blood filtered, similar to dialysis, and those cells will be extracted.  On that same day they will put them into Derek. 

Then the waiting game begins.  Derek's blood work will show that he has none of the proper ingredients to fight infections.  Once those numbers start coming up, that means that Jason's cells have been engrafted.  Once Derek's immune system is built back up he can come home.  However, complications are not a rare deal with this type of transplant.  Because Jason and Derek had a 10 point match in their bone marrow, the likely hood of Derek rejecting the cells is a slim 2%.  So rejection is not likely.  But, Graft Vs. Host disease is up to a 50% likely hood.  A small dose of Graft Vs. Host is not threatening and can appear in something as small as a rash.  But Graft Vs. Host disease can be deadly, killing off different organs like the liver.  The fatality rate of this type of transplant is 20%, which is a terrifying number if you ask me. 

If no serious complications occur, Derek can be home in as little as 3 weeks.  We then will have to still make the trek to the Mayo Clinic every single day for a few weeks until Derek gets farther and farther out of the danger zone. 

For the purposes of letting everyone who wants to be updated about his progress I will attempt to blog everyday.  Let's hope for a super boring blog. 

Everyday before the actual transplant is numbered in the negatives, so tomorrow will be Day -9. The day the transplant occurs is Day 0 and everyday after that is Day +whatever.  Here's to hoping for the most boring 109 days of my life. 

Unfortunately, I know this will not be true.  I feel a little like this:

Over the last few days I have felt my blood pressure rising, I'm pretty sure I've developed an ulcer, and there are times when I feel a little nutty.  I am so, so scared.  This is suppose to be the light at the end of the tunnel but I can't help feeling overwhelmed and a little pessimistic (or as I like to call it, realism).  There are so many things that can go wrong and that fatality rate scares the crap out of me.  Really scares me.  Where I have had to think about things if they do go wrong.  And frankly, I am barely strong enough to deal with the thoughts, I can't imagine if those become a reality. I am also stressed about poor Camden.  He will not get to see Derek for those days he is in the hospital (minus through skype) and for a daddy's boy I imagine this will be tough. 

I am grateful for fantastic family and friends who have been loving and supportive.  I am grateful for a fabulous ward who has truly taken care of us.  And I am grateful to have my faith.  Even if I can not foresee what is to come in this life, I do know what will happen in the next and that gives me incredible comfort.

Thanks for all the prayers and kind words, we need them.  Tune in to see what tomorrow is like.  


Lisa said...

I'll be praying hard for you guys! Love you!

Sean and Deana said...

My thoughts and prayers will be with you for the next 109 days. If you need anything let me know. If Derek or you feel up for it I am totally willing to give massages to the both of you free of charge. I have taken classes on Oncology massage. I've even been in the transplant ward and given massages to patients with Graft vs. Host. I love your family so much! Hugs!