Tell the Bees

Archive for April 7th, 2008

Hello from Room 59, 6th Floor, Wing 6C — Brigham & Women’s Hospital

My view is exactly the same one I had two years ago, just two floors higher. Huge ventilation pipes no longer dominate; instead I see buildings, all variations on the theme of rectangle, and some sky – blue today. My room is a double room, but I am the only person in it – so I have lots of space. I feel like I should be using the space to exercise, but yesterday I felt drugged all day due to a large dose of antihistamine I got to help with the itching from the shingles. I just laid around, hardly even watching TV. Today I feel better, but not yet inspired to work out.

We arrived Thursday evening. Craig, Chloe and Moriah escorted me to Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Two wings on each of two floors at this hospital are dedicated to bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients. The air is filtered. All guests wear masks and latex gloves. All of my things were wiped down with antiseptic wipes when we arrived. No live plants are allowed, and no cut flowers. We’ve been getting a minor charge out of watching the reactions of hospital staff when they see my two calla lilies – artificial of course. The lilies invariably evoke admonitions against cut flowers, until they realize the flowers are fake!

Today is my final day of chemo treatments. I’m receiving two chemo drugs: Busulfan and Fludarabine, along with “IV fluids” – usually a saline solution with something like Potassium or Dextrose added. Then there are anti nausea drugs, and basic saline solutions to clear lines. As I write I am being hooked up to my second to last bag of chemo. Tonight at 12:30 I’ll get the last one, for a final 3-hour drip. Tomorrow I have the day off – to let the chemo move through and out of my body.

Wednesday is “Day Zero” – the day for the transplant, when I receive the 15 million stem cells donated by my brother Mark. They will be introduced into my body via an IV line, much like a blood transfusion. And then the next chapter begins: how will our stem cells get along? My vision is the two sets of stem cells linking arms and marching through my body singing “Solidarity forever!”