Well today was a long time in the works. Tyler had the transplant this morning. So many people may not quite understand what that meant so I'll explain. After 18 chemo treatments in the past six days, Ty was ready today to have his stem cells put back into his body.
A stem cell transplant is like a blood transfusion. During the procedure, he got his own stem cells through his central line- his port that was surgically put in his chest about a month ago. Once the stem cells were in his body, they then travel to his bone marrow and begin making new red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. We could actually see the platelets with a flashlight that they gave us.
I was by his side and he was awake ( a little groggy from the medication) during the transplant. You can get medicine to help you stay calm and relaxed. Doctors and nurses stayed with him the entire time to check his blood pressure, breathing, and pulse, and they watched for signs of fever or chills.
The transplant took about an hour and half. It was so fast. This includes the time to set up the procedure, do the transplant, and check you afterward. They gave him 5 million stem cells today.
Right after they did the procedure, his hospital door opened and in came every nurse in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit and doctors singing HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Ty. They gave him a BALLOON and a blanket that a volunteer had had. They signed a card. They explained it to us... TODAY was his REBIRTH day. Cancer patients receive a unique gift with these transplants. They know what it’s like to come too close to death. They call it “Day Zero” – the day you are literally “reborn” from a cellular level. They call it your “re-birth” day — and you are given the amazing blessing to become cancer free. Oh, my as they came in the door, I looked at Tyler. I had instant tears in my eyes. Oh how my heart was overjoyed that they were able to do this to save his life. They had told us that without this transplant he would not live. I looked over at my brave husband. Wow, he is amazing me each day with his faith and strengthn. In this daily trials he is always most concerned about me and our children. He has quite the journey ahead. We held hands for a long time today. We talked about the future. We are making plans for a year from now. They say it may take that long for him to fully recover.
You can stay in the hospital for weeks or even months after your stem cell transplant- you just really never know and every patient is different. In the first few days after the procedure, his blood cell levels will continue to go down. This is because of the BEAM chemotherapy he got before the transplant. It was intense!
We were told the doctors will test his blood 7 to 10 days after the transplant to see whether new blood cells have begun to grow. They'll check his blood counts every day to track his progress. The doctors and nurses will carefully watch for side effects from chemotherapy and radiation, infections and grafting issues.
So many of you have emailed, texted and called and really encouraged me. THANK YOU! Honestly, I have not been that strong lately. I wish I could say that I have but I feel like I've been weak. It really has been my own fault I tend to put too much on my plate and there is only 24 hours in a day. I think it took a lot of honesty for me to finally tell my closest friends and Tyler that I am not doing as well as I seemed to be. I have felt so torn to be at two places at one time for the past week. Or if you count work that is 3 places. PS this is just not possible!!!! I think I would not be honest if I did not say that this is honestly the most challenging and stressful time emotionally for me right now. I have to be strong for my kids, strong for Ty and often all I want to do is climb in bed and cry. There is so much to get done. I know it will get better. I just have to take it a day at a time. I have to stop beating myself up because I don't have a single Christmas decoration up this year and don't see it happening anytime soon, or that it's Zellie's 2nd birthday on the 4th and I haven't even been to a store to buy her a gift. It tugs at my heart all the things about all the things I am not doing. Anyway, I just felt like I needed to open up more. It actually makes me feel better just expressing it. Whew!!!!! Today I cried in the car wishing I could call my mother and talk to her. It's times like these when it makes it really hard not having my parent and grandparents around anymore.
TODAY was a REALLY great day... a celebration day for our family and most especially Tyler... REBIRTH day!!!! I am overjoyed and OH so thankful.