Bone marrow harvest was a success. They have collected the number of stem cells needed by extracting 1.5 liters of bone marrow from my pelvis. I resisted staying overnight at the hospital and was discharged Monday evening. I returned to the clinic yesterday for IV fluids, anti-nausea drugs and to remove the compression bandage that was basically like having a huge tourniquet squeezing my waist, which made it difficult to breathe. But I’m now home recovering, walking a bit and gradually beginning to eat and drink again. This is a photo of the little cooler where my rescued bone marrow is stored and frozen until it is given back to me following the high-dose chemo. The nurse walks the cooler all over the campus, and says it doesn’t leave his side in the transport. Apparently, he’s carried bone marrow from as far as Taiwan and South Africa. Luckily, mine only has to travel from my rear end to the portacath in my chest where it will be given to me like a blood transfusion.
As I was coming out of the fog of anesthesia after the procedure, I could barely make out the silhouette of two people standing at bedside, one of whom I thought for sure was Auntie.
“Can I hold your hand?” I uttered, voice raspy and sore from having had a breathing tube. I felt the grasp of a firm hand on mine. It was a bit different from what I knew. Auntie usually pairs her handhold with a prayer or something comforting, but I was content with that connection and drifted back to sleep.
When I awoke again, I asked the nurse, “Where did my Auntie go?”
“Hon, we just called her, but she hasn’t come yet,” she answered.
“Then, who’s hand was I holding before?” I asked.
“Sweetie, that was the doctor,” she replied.
Crap. I guess anesthesia made me confuse my beautiful Mexican Auntie for a male Greek doctor. Hugely embarrassed, not only because of the hand-holding, but moments before surgery when the doc was giving me all kinds of consent forms to sign, I had made a crack about how I could have signed to marry him and not known it. Yes, I always have to be the funny guy and now the joke’s on me.
Yesterday, at my return visit to the clinic, I made an awkward apology to the doc, and he just laughed and tried to normalize things by saying, “Plenty of patients ask me to hold their hand after surgery.”
Well, another surgical procedure – tranquilized, body manipulated and invaded, pushed from room to room and then waking up racked with pain, barfing, freezing and without socks or underwear. If I ran a hospital, I would make sure all my post-op patients awakened from anesthesia wearing comfy 100% cotton underwear, with feet swaddled in coziness and an auntie to hold your hand and say it’s going to be OK – like Auntie does, not the doctor.
Thank you so much to Auntie for waking at 4am to make the drive and spend all day into the very late night with me, and thank you to Jo Ann, for helping me hobble back to the clinic yesterday.
Next phase – radiation oncology consult tomorrow. Auntie will take me.