That’s the official transplant date. If all goes well. If there are no delays. If. If. If.
I wonder if that's why I can't sleep at night, keep getting bed spins, have crying jags, and my stomach is eating itself.
My life, our lives, will be defined by BEFORE TRANSPLANT and AFTER TRANSPLANT. The day of the transplant is called Day 0. It is referred to as the patient’s re-birthday.
In the six days leading up to the transplant they will be giving Bob three days of high-dose chemotherapy to kill off as much cancer as possible and kill off his bone marrow to make room for the new stem cells to take up residence and “reboot” him. In layman’s terms, they stop short of killing him, taking his body down to ground zero.
On transplant day, he will get 1-2 bags of the blood his brother will have donated—the stem cells that have been collected via apheresis and a long day in a Barcalounger. The blood will contain heparin to prevent clotting and will drip in without a pump, just using gravity. Basically, the transplant is like a blood transfusion, quite uneventful. The magic happens in the days and weeks that follow.
Bob will be admitted to Stanford February 24th to begin this process. I’ll be staying with friends who’ve graciously opened their home to me until we move into our long-term housing when Bob is discharged from the hospital. We’ll be required to live there for 100 days so that he can be monitored for any complications, specifically Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD)—the main risk for patients receiving bone marrow or stem cell transplants. By then, I should be kickass at boiling water, a requirement of his low-microbial diet, and he’ll be a pro at fastening his sexy HEPA mask he’ll be required to wear any time he goes out in public, along with his Medic Alert bracelet (although I’m thinking of getting him the necklace on a blinged out chain…something subtle).