Today is my last day as a free man for a while. Tomorrow I get admitted into the UW hospital to start the chemotherapy regimen that will wipe out my bone marrow. Next Monday is the actual transplant, which consists of just a simple infusion of the donor's stem cells. They're smart enough to make their way inside the bones and start producing new blood. No surgery or anything. On the left you can see the Hickman catheter that was put in on Friday. The white disc is called a biopatch, and contains antibiotics that keep the entry wound free of infection. You can't see it, but there is a small incision up by my neck where the tube actually enters the vein. Between the biopatch and the neck vein, the tube tunnels under the skin. This is partly for convenience so that the Hickman doesn't stick out of your neck, but I also found out from a nurse that the tunnel acts as a natural barrier for infection, since the distance between the vein and the entry site are so far apart. The ends have tape wrapped around them which the necklace clips onto to keep the whole assembly from dangling around. So far it hasn't been too uncomfortable and most of the time I forget I have it. Pretty amazing stuff.
Today I met up with a friend for tea at Remedy Teas on Capitol Hill, got another round of antibiotics at the SCCA, went for sushi and noodles at Blowfish, then met up with a friend for coffee at Cafe Vita. Afterwards, I walked downtown, caught the bus home, then met up with Johanna and had dinner with my parents to help send me off to the hospital. Admittance time is 8 am tomorrow morning, so Johanna and I are just finishing up some light packing before we head off to bed.
I've enjoyed seeing all my friends and catching up recently, and look forward to seeing everyone when I get back out again. I should be able to have visitors almost any time during the next 4 weeks, but to make things easier I think Johanna and I will put together a simple sign-up sheet for visitors so that no one has to worry about when might or might not be a good time to come by. You may be given a gown and mask to wear, but as long as you don't have a cold or scratchy throat, it should be ok. Though I may not look very healthy to look at some of the time :)
My friend, Josh, joked that my marrow transplant should be called a "camaro transplant", and my mom remembered that and decorated this miniature Camaro with a bunch of cool decals! For example, the license plate says "platelet" and there are decals like NMDP for National Marrow Donor Program, and HGB for Hemoglobin. The car is yellow since I'm on the yellow team. See if you can figure out all the decals :)