Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 0: Stem Cell Transplant

Getting prepped for transplant. Quite the I.V. pole, eh?

Stem cells. Now you know.

Today is Day 0. We were admitted on Day -7 (read day minus 7). Tomorrow will be Day +1 (day plus 1). I know, rocket science! Everything counts up to or away from the transplant. I get the feeling that his life will be measured in countless ways from this day forward always referring to each day/month/year as post transplant. I tried to joke with William about this being a new birthday for him and another reason to celebrate, but he was more concerned that my head was blocking Tom & Jerry on the TV. That's good.

Upon entering William's room, wafts of peppermint would suggest we were conducting an aromatherapy session. Small plastic medicine cups with cotton balls and peppermint oil have been strategically placed around the room. It smells lovely, sort of. The substance, DMSO (DiMethylSulfOxide), used in the cryopreservation of the stem cells, is some potent smelling stuff. It has a pungent, slightly bitter, vegetable smell---a little like creamed corn and V8 juice. Try to imagine that odor. It's not offensive, just unpleasant. Anyway, he excretes the smell through his breath, skin, fluids. Hopefully the smell will subside by tomorrow.

The transplant was uneventful and observed by the attending doctor, the fellow, and the resident. The nurse performed it. How backwards is that? It all went smoothly with no immediate allergic reactions. The doctor said if we were to look inside all his bones right now, it would be hollow with no existing bone marrow. Crazy! So now it's a waiting game for mouth sores, fevers, transfusions, and hair loss. What fun! What fun!

Here's a brief video of the transplant process. I unfortunately missed a shot of the 3 doctors just standing at the foot of his bed watching the whole thing take place. The smell was pretty immediate and he plugged his nose and watched cartoons through the whole thing.

He's been in reasonably good spirits today, but his appetite is waning. He didn't eat anything until 7pm. He managed a small bowl of Cheerios, a few bites of fruit, and a bag of movie theater buttered popcorn. Only a mom would keep track of such things, right? His other mood booster was finally getting the video chatting up and running. He and James (best friend) talked for an hour. I guess I should clarify that they weren't chatting the whole time. There was plenty of silence too, but they're not old enough for awkward pauses. They were texting each other! How cool is it to be texting each other while watching each other do it on a computer screen? Oh my. (deep pathetic sigh). So Lisa (his mom) and I called each other on our phones, waved over Skype and contemplated emailing and texting just to one up the boys. We didn't. But it was discussed.

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