Part 1: Fear
The follow-up combo of steroids, drugs, anti-anxiety, sleep aids, and the regular medication left me a mess for two weeks. The anaphylactic shock from the transplant seemed to parley tension, fear, pain, sleep aids, and medicines into a cocktail for a mental state not unlike shock.
I didn’t talk much for the next two weeks. I envisioned a future where I may leave the hospital a failed candidate, with no prospects and no immunity system.
This combination of drugs and despair took its toll on my sleep as well. For one thing, I got the dayparts reversed, so that I’d wake at 5 in the morning expecting my dinner. And I totally believed I was living in a Spanish villa, and my “bed” was actually a dining room table (with a nice chandelier).
Despite being told by Teams of Doctors who visited every morning, that I looked great and was making progress, I didn’t feel that way.
I did go through all the motions, walking around the corridors to get my sea legs back, moving from the bed to a chair (some transplantees were very weak), and taking chemical soap showers to prevent infection.
My arms were purple and black from infections gained for the search for a pic-line. I was taking off weight because the food seemed tasteless. They caught an Epstein-Barr disease in my bloodstream and that had to be eliminated through dialysis.
But there was good news as well: my initial problem, myelofibrosis, was gone. Night sweats, irritable skin after showers, unnecessary fatigue, and other symptoms were gone. Now I just had to rebuild my strength and immune system.
As I slowly processed the good that was happening, I found myself in a conversation with my sister. “Things are turning around for you, she noted.”I think you should be happy.” She wasn’t happy.
I sat in my chair covered in blankets and surrounded by contraband Diet Pepsi’s and Little Debbie’s.
My numbers — white blook cells, platelets, hemoglobin, had been decent for a few days and one of the doctors indicated there might be a chance I could be released into homecare soon. This would mean a more liberal diet and fresh air. And as the numbers build, you can drive again. Maybe I could sneak a cigar.
It set a spark in my soul. I couldn’t live like this. I needed out. And then I realized the best piece of news yet: I was still 72 years old.