Sadly didn’t really get the sleep I hoped for. More persistent bladder emptying again, so much fluid! I woke around 8.30, had a torrent of message’s that I hadn’t been able to keep up with from the previous day. Awww it was so nice, so much support and positivity from friends and family, being miles away still letting you know you’re always being thought of, really started off my day well.
Also the reason I set up my LetsGetRid blog, was just to show people how to do this – without fear, helping with much expectation leading up to their own treatment, because stick a camera in front of someone and they turn into a Drama Queen, making everyone uneasy. Me, no dramas! Trust in my commentary, not a news soundbite!
But you know, it was all the new well wishers, those newly following me, about to embark on their own adventures, their closely interested loved ones too, that really set me off. My little blog was working!! People expressing how their fears had totally gone, seeing my experience and smilie face through it all, had shown them there really was no fight to it. It was their flood of messages that really had me going. I was getting tearier with each one. From those that I had got to know and those that don’t post, but wanted to reach out to me that morning and say so.
Then I opened my ‘Day Zero’ card from my wife Jen, and that was it – I was a flood of tears!! Writing the most beautiful message. I could barely speak to her on the phone moments later. I’ve got an image to uphold too!! 😉
So by this point it was close to 11am, and my important ‘1pm appointment’ was approaching. I made myself comfortable, Doctor Fedorenko came in and took blood pressures and asked how I doing? For the first time my blood was higher than the norm, all that message reading must have really hit something. I didn’t tell him about how soppy I’d just been – ‘just something in the eye y’know’.
Then in walks a nurse and hooks me up to a machine to monitor my levels. I keep an eye on the BPM, pushing 120 which wasn’t like me. So onto the comical techniques I’ve spoken about before, in through nose – out with a ‘Whooosaaaaaa’. I was soon and back down to a steady 65BPM.
I had my camera set up in the corner of the room to record the process, but unfortunately after switching it on and getting personally wired up, it turned out I was one of four transplants that day. So my camera set at maximum settings managed around 30 minutes of prep nursing, rather than the procedure itself ..shame. Either way, I just lay there feeling incredibly relaxed patiently awaiting my turn.
Rattle, clack, rumble …In arrives the entourage! The Doctor, his able aid Dr Nikolai, a nurse and Anastasia. More positive question and answers, telling me of what to expect and to report anything i feel as and when I do, to help him reflect on this ECG scoreboard.
I’m shown my bag of returning stem cells, box fresh, dripping with icy air. Like the Ambassador at his reception, I give him a little nod to proceed. 😉 Fortunately just the one bag, for the one day of collection, they’re then thawed out and syringed by the nurse into three large vials ready to be passed on and hooked onto my chest catheter, long placed there from my chemotherapy. Doctor places his hand on my arm and tells me of the side effects I may experience over the next few minutes, and we begin.
Doctor F. tells me to commentate as when I feel anything, so that he cross check his scoreboard. I tell him how the right hand side of my face is suddenly feeling rather flushed, not a problem your heart rate is just fluctuating to new fluid and difference in temperature, that subsides seconds later. My throat gets incredibly dry, like there’s an irritable piece of plastic there, this wasn’t pleasant but dissipates seconds later and not to be worth thinking about. I’m now getting the taste of tomatoes in my mouth, I can’t remember his reply, but I do remember how pleasant it actually was – that passed seconds later. Any crushing or pressing on the chest, Alex? Nope, none at all Doctor! Little more than 10 minutes and it’s all over. He proudly shows me a very empty looking cell bag. Through my oxygen mask I probably just pulled some silly big smile, and then just thanked them all. I then commented on just how easy that procedure really was. Totally at ease the whole way through, enjoyed the relaxing of it all, and the knowing that this just might be the end of a very long and dark road. Relief quickly washed over me, no drugs necessary (other than the saline drip I had just been hooked up to), I just lay there feeling content, a beautiful moment to myself reflecting on our near future – all the things my wife Jen and I have been missing for the last eight years.
I pick up my phone next to me, and sent a thumbs-up picture from me. Anastasia expertly took photo’s on my phone during the treatment, good thing too with my primed camera dying out long prematurely.
I let that send, and then immediately called Jen. “All done!!” We switched to FaceTime to talk about how it went and how comfortable it was. Difficult to recall what we spoke about, no doubt lots of positive things and how much we couldn’t wait to see each other again very soon.
After putting down the phone, I think I just laid there comfortably, enjoying a further ten minutes to myself. …oh and then just the obligatory Facebook announcement. ‘New man born’.
Time passes by quickly, time to party!! I get dressed and move myself to the sofa area in the hall where others are waiting, as well my fellow stem-cell-quadruplets. Doctor Fedorenko has his beautiful pouring of the fluid ceremony, the fluid used in the freezing process poured out over the floor in a evaporating display. Simple, but really beautiful. He delivers his words of meaning and kindness, we’re all given our Iris Pins, The Doctor’s little badge honouring the flower resembling new life, followed by his famous big smile and hug.
I don’t have many heroes in life, but this one, an understated man with a heart of gold, has to be mine. I hope to be able to repay and show him what he has done for me and my (future) family very soon.
He gives everyone a big wave and wishes everyone a pleasant evening. There were some new people in the group today, so I go over and say hello. Vanessa and Tonia from Australia, they congratulate me on my Day Zero and we talk about who we are and how we got here. Then I get a ‘Ahh, you’re Alex from the Blog – we’ve been told we should meet you’. How lovely and amazing, not for glory, just the hoping that I’ve eased someone else’s expectations.
We all retire to our rooms – personally feeling a little bushed, and probably have just one or two messages waiting for me. Something like that anyway.
What a day!!! WHAT-A-DAY!! So much to reflect, so much to soak up.
I put my head down for a couple of hours, I don’t think I’ve done that enough really, but I’ve earned this one. I make a couple of last calls, start thinking about
my next this blog post and instead decide to retire and wallow in my new warmth and knowing.
Today has been incredible from the start. Never to be forgotten!