Tuesday February 26, 2008:

It feels strange to be logging a journal entry all these years later. A decade has passed since the day I received my bone marrow infusion. I remember that day so clearly, though I didn't record the details here in my online journal. The transplant doctor and his team arrived at my bedside at 1pm, and the tension in the room was palpable. Prior to that day, Dr. Shephard had always seemed jovial and carefree, but that day his brow was furrowed and his demeanor was serious.

Mark was in the room, wearing a mask because he had a cold. A transplant survivor, Ross, was there providing me with inspiration. And the hopes, good wishes, and support of all my friends and family were there too. My walls were covered with photos and cards. My heart was filled with fear.

The bone marrow was infused into my body through an intravenous line (technically through a Hickman line which had been surgically installed weeks earlier). My marrow had been harvested from my pelvic bone a couple of weeks earlier, but this was the first time I had seen it. The bag of marrow looked similar to a regular bag of blood, but it held my life, my future. In the days leading up to that moment, I worried about someone dropping my jar of bone marrow, rendering it useless and ending my life. In my mind, I pictured the marrow having been frozen in a glass jar; in fact it had been (smartly) frozen in plastic. I wish someone had told me that sooner!

As the marrow entered my bloodstream, it became a bit difficult to breathe, which surprised me. The doctor told me that the preservatives in the marrow can lead to some temporary side effects. The most disconcerting side effect I experienced was a drastic drop in my heart rate. It fell into the 30s. I was told this wasn't unexpected. I don't really remember the dozen hours that followed, other than the fact that a nurse was assigned to my bedside to closely monitor me until my heart rate returned to normal. I remember the nurse waking me to take my vitals at 1am, and when she told me my heart rate was back to normal I was so relieved! I immediately phoned (and woke up!) Mark as well as my mother. This was the first hurdle I would pass; the first of many, it would turn out.

I remember the kinds of things I worried about in the hospital. I thought about the implications of a fire in the hospital. My room was on an upper floor, and I was attached to an IV/pump machine on wheels via the Hickman line that was stitched to my chest. If I had to leave the building, it wasn't going to be possible to do so using the stairs. And if I did somehow leave the building, common germs in the air could be the death of me. My thoughts during that period can't exactly be characterized as optimistic.

At the time, it was hard to envision a future. I certainly couldn't imagine a life 10 years in the future, a life I'm now so lucky to be living! Today I have been wandering around on the verge of tears, living perhaps a little bit more in the moment than I normally do. When I think about my life, family, friends, and career, when I think about the daily comforts I enjoy and the fact that I really don't want for anything, I feel so priviliged to be me.

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