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« Day 3 of Stem Cell Transplant - I'm In | Main | Blues Shoes »
Friday
Jun302017

My Pink Army - Stem Cell Transplant Accomplished 

~ I awoke the day after without spinal pain. The kind of pain that made me question God. The doctor calls this post-operative period the Honeymoon faze - when hundreds of millions of warriors have re-entered my body and stunned it into submission - launching atomic bombs obliterating inflammation, freeing my system from the bonds of torture it's held over me for six years. The years a life has lost.  For the first time since October 28, 2011, I can feel the girl I used to be rise in my belly, aching to feel the warmth from the light that I can see. We lean into each other - a trusting game that this time hope just might be real. ~

My Stem Cell Transplant yesterday went beautifully! It's quite a roller coaster post-op.  Upon returning to our hotel minimal movement was a feat due to the post-op pain. The strangest thing was something the nurse had warned me about. Evidently the ambush of Stem Cells creates an onset of Martha Stewartitis - A manic disposition of OCD. Before the surgery my doctor called in a prescription to help with this, not so sure how effective it was.  If one thing was out of place my chest would coil. Girls, you know that feeling when PMS makes you perform Spring cleaning in the Fall? Or for men, it's that moment you look at your garage and fantasize what it resembled when you first moved in? That angst for order. My body was not in its right mind. This mental ping pong continued until 3am. I'm chalking it up to my cells, not my mind. Right?

Pain levels rose through the night as the local anesthetic wore off. Then there was the delightful puddlings of ooze that pooled from open wounds - a lovely pink strawberry cream fluid mellifluously trailing from USB ports on my belly, inner and outer thighs, buttocks, flanks, and sides. You see, each extraction causes trauma to the body as the doctor literally sweeps throughout the circumference under the skin like a Hoover sucking and tearing the underlying tissues to obtain the cells within the fat. Stitching these wounds closed would have caused additional inflammation that could confuse the newly infused Stem Cells as to their proper work stations. Stem Cells are programmed to attack inflammation. That's also why my doctor would be resistant to performing a transplant if I had had a fresh injury. 

 

Waking up today was a good sign, yet in some ways a touch regrettable. Just not fun.  You might want to plan a three day sleepathon. Here is the good news. My usual spinal pain is virtually non-existent. A traditional waking process is a three hanky morning until medication A, B and C, a bolus of my intrathecal catheter, increase of intensity to my lumbar and cervical leads to my spinal stimulator and a good dose of denial. 

 

These first few days of post-op endurance, the body receives an Astro blast of inflammation reduction. I am truly in the Honeymoon phase - no question about it. Now, I must plead a headache to myself so I do not in any way overdo it here. The cells have not had the time to reconstruct the body and being overactive because I am numbed out could set me back. That my friend is not an option. 

---

My hubby, two of our girls and my service dog entered the doctor's front office, family style.  We were welcomed like long lost friends. The doctor had instructed months ago that I absolutely had to gain enough weight so he could pinch a solid inch of fat on my body in order to be able to perform the most effective Stem Cell extraction possible.  Having endured over 20 surgeries, procedures and counting, the anesthesias, stress and medications had caused a rather mind boggling weight loss. If I didn't gain enough fatty weight (you need fat not muscle) I was not going to be cleared for surgery. 

So commenced the ice creamathons, burger binges, and the See Food diet. The goal was to eat fatty foods. So I did. And I gained weight. And I was proud. Until I got there and his brows furled upon gazing at my tummy and said the belly just may not be enough. He pinched and prodded here and there. We may need to search elsewhere. Elsewhere? What does that mean, my husband? My dog? Evidently elsewhere meant everywhere else which led to the lovely condition I have found myself in now. 

 

The protocol yesterday went like this:

 

Enter office. 

Kisses on Blue. 

Sign forms for death. 

Tell them you're paralyzed so you won't hear your weight. 

Are you pregnant. He'll no. 

Black crepe robe with matching porn thong. 

Doctor speaks. 

You nod. 

Enter Room A you then hope is not the OR. 

Anesthesiologist. 

Veins. 

Blood. 

He. Is. Now. Your. Best. Friend. 

OR that resembles Room A. 

Strip robe and porn thong. 

Lay like filet. 

Nurse sponges you a lovely shade of Trump. 

Shit gets real. 

The posse arrives. 

IV goes whack. 

All goes black. 

 

So what happened while I was out? My surgery took a little over 2 hours. While the bulk of the extracted Stem Cells were spinning to propagate, he took the leftover cells and created a Stem Cell 'paste'. While I'm still out, the doctor then injected this paste in and throughout the muscles surrounding the effected areas of my spine. Meaning, my entire spine. The average person's extracted cell count before spinning them usually numbers 60-80 million. My body kicked arse at 326 million! Again, this could have been due to the fact that my fat was concentrated. You'd think the larger the person the more Stem Cells, right? Wrong! We all have the same number of Stem Cells, so a larger body the more difficult it is to gather a higher number of cells. It's like fishing in a pond versus the ocean. So, what seemed a curse in the beginning actually became my blessing. 

 

I was then moved back to Room A. As I lay on the gurney, the nurse brings in two large push up pop - looking syringes.  Or are they calking guns? Turns out these are filled with my Stem Cells! She hands them to me for my Stem Cell Selfie! Didn't know this was a thing - Like when you lose a tooth. Each syringe was filled with a pretty in pink strawberry Cream fluid  responsible for the oozing experience I had that night. I was now the very proud mommy of two very large batches of cells. 326 babies! I hand them back nervously hoping no one could have the slightest chance of abducting them. They are quickly inserted into my IV and off they went! A stream of life back into my body ready to satisfy the most magnificent orders they've ever received. Navy Seals only pink. My husband and I watched these beautiful little creatures disappear with a mission so impossible yet not a complaint to be heard. My little babies coming back to mama to fight a war. Bit by bit they become one again with me and at once I am hit with the realization that this is not a procedure. It's a miracle. These are not just cells. They are warriors marching into battle to eliminate and conquer. To defeat the inflammation that has stolen my life. They are creating new cells, and eradicating scar tissue adhered to my bones, the nerves within the dura of my spinal cord hardened with plaque blackened to defeat. These are Heroes. And their mine. Sitting in a body for all of these years waiting for purpose. I am now officially a war zone. 

 

The post-op recovery is a pain I understand and appreciate. Even though my torso resembles a child's sprinkler head, it's mine and it's brave and empowered. 

 

I am told the transplant recovery will be a roller coaster. The days I feel defeated are the days battles are being won.  I am and will be under construction for the next nine months. Like an embryo to a child. The days I am a warrior, my cells are in retreat. Retreating to recharge to begin another war. 

 

I am an army now. Until this ends and I begin I will learn what it's like to die and be born. A journey unlike the one I've endured of this limbo of a life. I don't have the answer as to what I expect but to expectations are dreams unfulfilled. My body does not have to be perfect for my life to be beautiful, meaningful and grand. But if this ends with the life I have endured these past years as a distant memory, and the blessings and lessons procured, then a war will have ended with peace on both sides and a heart with a souls that's been mended.  

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Reader Comments (1)

Hope springs eternal. I read your story with more hope than I have had in a very long time. My battle with with spine has been lengthy, with more disks degenerating in my 74 year old body. Oh....pray I am not too old to experience this miracle. How I would be so grateful to just walk again. I did not see where your transplant took place....where do I find a doctor who has successfully done this procedure. Is it approved by the FDA? I am so excited. Please give me info when you can. I can only imagine your joy and I am so happy for you.

August 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Harvey

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