I know I shouldn’t complain about being in the hospital for 6 days when I was initially projected to be hospitalized for ten to fourteen days. I don’t know what I was expecting from the process, but it delivered. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but wasn’t sure what would happen. But true to form, I really didn’t have the “normal” side effects. I had the weird ones.
First, what happened. Before they did a transplant, they wanted to try immunosuppressant therapy. It is basically in two parts. First, they give me a high dose of chemotherapy (ATGAM) for four days, and the actual suppressant (cyclosporine) that I will take over the course of the next six months. Typical side effects are skin rash and fever. I had both, for one day. That one day was enough, let me assure you. After that, they managed to control it with pre-meds and reduced injection rate. It worked, but it’s a six-hour injection anyway; extending it to twelve was not pleasant.
The bigger issue was reduced heart and respiration rate. And by reduced, I mean a pulse rate that would make marathon runners envious (less than 30). That led to a Saturday through Monday filled with monitors, exams, and tests that have nothing to do with cancer. But they all came back normal, so I’m taking that as a blessing. It seems that everything was just caused by the meds.
Other side effects remain. It is immune suppressant therapy, so I have no immune system. With this flu season being as intense as it is, I am basically in isolation for the foreseeable future. I’ll only be leaving the house for doctor appointments, and will be making heavy use of masks and sanitizers for that. I’m back on strict food safety precautions (never technically ended – I just got sloppy, much to the chagrin of Nikki). And I’m on daily antibiotic, antifungal, antivirals, and steroids. Thanks to the steroids, I’m also on insulin until everything gets balanced out.
I would be remiss if I didn’t say how amazing everyone at Northside Hospital was. Even when they were annoying the crap out of me taking vitals every 15 minutes, they were always caring, friendly, and generally amazing. They made the visit so much better than what it could have been and what I’ve been through in the past. They will be missed, but hopefully, I only ever see them in social situations going forward.
While I do love hearing from everyone, the simple danger of this period of time compels me to request no visitors. It’s not you; it’s the germs. And even basic germs could be fatal for me right now. So, feel free to check in via text, email, Facebook, Instagram, or even my contact form. But unless I run into you at the oncologist, I’ll see you in a few months.
Thank you for your continued prayers. Overall, I’m doing well. It’s a bunch of adjustments, but I’m okay. I’m sure I’m going to miss my radio and Relay meetings, grabbing the camera and going out for a day of shooting, and just getting to see everyone. But it is what is required right now.