Hello from 2009! Our trip to Los Angeles was great. We basically spent the whole time in the beach cities, relaxing or shopping or eating, either in Manhattan Beach where Johanna's sister, Val, lives or in Hermosa Beach where our hotel was. Walking between the cities was simple - just a quick stroll up or down The Strand, a pedestrian and bike trail connecting most of the major beaches in LA. Both Val's house and our hotel were on the Strand, so we probably put in at least 10 miles of walking, and the scenery along the way was gorgeous. On one side was the blue ocean with people surfing or playing volleyball on the beach (even in December!). On the other were a wide variety of closely-packed and expensive beach houses. You'd see a spanish colonial next to a Victorian next to a small cottage next to an ultra-modern glass and steel behemoth. And almost all meticulously cared for by their owners. There was a lot to see. The beach community definitely has a sense of self-pride and belonging, and it wouldn't be hard to get accustomed to their lifestyle. Alas, after 5 days we headed back home to our cold, wet Seattle :)
It seems like half the people we met had colds while we were there, with phlegm all colors of the rainbow, but we did our best to avoid too much close contact and I seem to have managed to avoid it all. Though I did get a sunburn on my face and my doctors gave me a slap on the wrist about it the next day. After the transplant, I'll have to be more careful, since graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) can flare up as the result of a single sunburn, and could take months to get back under control.
The day after we got back, I was scheduled for a blood draw, a nutrition class, an EKG, and a checkpoint visit with the transplant team. Everything went well, I passed all my tests from the previous week with flying colors, and all my blood counts were normal. Super cool. They are also checking the Voriconazole (anti-fungal antibiotic) levels in my blood to see if the dose needs to be adjusted. The next day I went back in for another blood draw, as my donor's sample blood had just arrived at the lab. They've already determined that we match as closely as possible through our HLA typing, but continuous blood checks are needed to make sure that my blood doesn't develop antibodies against my donor's blood. New antibodies can be inherited by getting a transfusion, or sometimes they can occur out of the blue.
Nothing much is expected between now and next week. Next week I'll have another checkpoint visit with the transplant team and that's it. The week after, we'll do another CT scan to see if the lung infection has cleared up, and if so, we'll proceed with the transplant.
As of now, the schedule looks like this:
Jan 14 - CT scan to check lung infection
Jan 15 - Transplant team makes go/no-go decision on transplant
Jan 16 - Hickman line (like PICC line, but goes in your chest)
Jan 19 - 5 days of intensive chemotherapy to wipe out marrow
Jan 26 - Transplant
It's turning out to be a nice day so I think I'll head off to a coffee shop somewhere. Ciao! Here are some pictures from our trip: