Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I've harvested. No, not wheat, bone marrow!

I did it. I donated my bone marrow (aka product, harvest and other gross, clinical terms that the medics here use) to the little unknown troll. For those of you who don't know me well, "troll" is a term of endearment for any child under the age of my current age (i.e. 33).

The day of the harvest, John, Irma, my caseworker, Andie, my Chinese, male limo driver and I showed up at UCSF hospital at 5:30 a.m. I have enough luggage to put Shelley Long from Troop Beverly Hills to shame. By the way, if you don't know what I"m talking about, rent the movie. Still rocks my world.

What is up with all the cute doctors? Even the Asian doctors are cute. What is going on? And, no, I was not on any drugs at the time they were primping me for the OR so I had my faculties about me.

My anthesiologist, Andy (who is also a Chinese male) was very cute except that he 1. couldn't find a vein in either arm (he tried for 30 minutes) so he decided to go through my foot.


Then, to add insult to serious injury, he asked me what I weigh.

In front of people. Cute people. Cute, medical people.

Andy must die.

So, I told him that I would tell him but that he should be ashamed of himself and that he should not judge me becuase I'm not fat, I'm just fluffy.

Yes, I was on the beloved laughing gas at this point.

When I came to, I felt a bit like I'd been run over by a Mac truck (I don't even know what that is but it sounds dramatic so I'm going with it) and that I has been reincarnated as a dung beetle.

John, my steadfast roomie and mommy, walked me to and from the bathroom and watched me push my bladder to pee as my bladder was still sleeping from the anesthesia. I begged him to leave the bathroom but he told me to get over it and held my gown up for me. I hate him...okay, but I hate him in a loving way.

Apparently, I lost a lot of blood and my blood pressure is among the levels of corpses so Doc Marten (not making his name up) asked me to stick around versus get discharged. No problemo.

When I was finally released to the Holiday Inn at Fisherman's Wharf in the care of Amberlyn, my sweet friend who is terribly excited to be my new best friend, she monitored my Vicodin intake, my other medications, my lower back for ice pack needs, my juice intake and refolded all my clothes while I slept.

Last note: thanks a pantload for all y'all's support, interest, good wishes, visits, etc. I'm truly touched and I would say I'm emotionally overwhelmed except that I can't feel anything. My bladder says "hi" as it is slowly waking up from its 40-hour nap.

As I was being helped to the bathroom last night at 3:30 a.m. by a nurse, she asked me if it was true that i didn't know the recipient of my product. I said it is true.

She told me she couldn't believe that anyone would do that (a bit disheartening to hear from a 3:30 a.m....killing my Morphine buzz). She then told me that her husband declined donating bone marrow and she supported his decision. I don't want to judge so all I'll say is this - i'm happy to help someone else and I"m sad that so many people are surprised that I would do it in the first place and do it for someone I don't know.

Gandhi said "Be the change you wish to see in people". This constipated, exhausted and fluffy gal is hoping that she's doing right by him.

xoxo, the harvester

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Prom Night at the Blood Bank

So, I'm guessing that many if not most of you got to go to Prom. I did not as Lily (aka my mother) was disgusted with the idea.

"Mom, I want to go to prom."

Lily - "What is that?"

"It's a dance and you go with a boy..."

Lily - "which boy? no boy. go with Meredith."

"Meredith is a girl. And, she has a date."

Lily - "You are not dating with anyone, okay?"

"It's 'dating' not 'dating with', Mom."

Lily - "No prom for you!"

Anyway, it's not like anyone was going to ask me. My friend, Becca, asked Brian Elliff if he'd go with me.

We're still waiting for him to get back to her.

Anyway, I felt I was going to the Prom today. Only it was at 8:30 a.m. and it was to the blood bank so I could donate my own blood for Monday's operation.

Same difference.

My Chinese driver, Andie (he's a male but that's how his name was spelled on his name tag), was dressed in a suit, opened the door and when I got in there was a mini bar, a champagne glass, confetti and balloons.

That's right - what was in your limo to Prom? Bet I gotcha beat.

At the blood bank, they took two units of blood and made me eat a two-day-old blueberry muffin. Then I had a shot of orange juice and got to leave...

...until I went down.

look at all the pretty stars and...why is someone waking me up?

Nurse Ling was slapping me awake yelling "hello"? "HELLO?"

I wonder if she had me confused for Bunky. I mean, I'm not in shackles...why are you slapping me? How about petting my head instead and bringing me a younger muffin?

So, I got up, they called Andie who helped me up the stairs and took 3 calls from Irma who was freaking out. Irma, you may recall, is my case worker at the National Marrow Donor Program and asked me if I could lie down at work.

Sure, Irma. I do my best work at work lying down. Everyone does.

Who are these people?

I guess I'll find out on Monday. Until then...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

To donate or not to donate?

So, without getting into too many details, I've learned that I may not be able to donate if my health doesn't improve in time (i.e. by April 26th). I'm not sure how to feel about this. There's a little girl out there who is counting on me and my body isn't cooperating. I'm frustrated, tired, relieved, annoyed and overwhelmed.

I feel guilty about feeling relieved if I can't give my marrow. I mean, don't I think that I'm brave, generous and altruistic?

Overall, I find comfort in knowing that 1. the situation is out of my control and 2. I'm doing everything I can to make it possible for me to donate.

I hope to know by the middle of this upcoming week. Until then...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Excuse me, while you're peeing...

So, first things first: folks, I am not getting paid to harvest/donate my bone marrow. I've been surprised by the number of people who have asked me this question. On my way to UCSF hospital today when my cab driver, Arvin (yes, he's Indian) asked me what was in it for me, I told him ice cream and a Princess sticker.

He asked me what a sticker is.

People, what did I tell you about Indians?

Anyway, I had to go to the hospital for the third time in a week because I have a minor infection and have been given antibiotics. Well, turns out that it still hasn't cleared up so now, my bone marrow donation may be delayed, throwing everything off kilter in my little ole life.

By now, I know folks at UCSF - there's the coffee guy who has really wild hair and always says "Watcha See?" when he sees you. My bone marrow case worker at UCSF, Yvonne Wong, who speaks in a whisper and apologizes for everything. I could probably get her to apologize for global warming.

Then, there's nurse Ted who calls me NaNYa and tells me that I look good in pink. And, yes, I have been wearing pink everytime I go to the hospital. What would you wear to a place that's colors are puke green and vomit orange? What is with hospitals and their decor? Really? You can't put in a little thought to a color scheme that doesn't engage your gag reflex everytime you walk through the door?

Okay, I'm getting off track here. I go to the bathroom to pee into a cup and the lights go out. I hear "FUCK!".

That's Dr. Shelman's voice. Very professional. Nice.

So, I step out and wait for the lights to come back on.

10 minutes pass. 20 minutes pass. 27 minutes pass.

At this point, I'm frustrated because I really need to get to work.

That's when Yvonne comes up to me and asks if I would like her to hold a flashlight while I pee so I can make sure I get it in the cup.

So, I guess Yvonne and I have to be best friends now.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pre-Op with Bunky

Today was my first day at the hospital - yep - it's official - I'm donating my marrow.

The tests took 7 hours. I got an EKG, an MRI, a chest X-ray, gave 10 vials of blood, a urine sample and a sticker saying "I'm a Princess - treat me like one."

I wasn't nervous at all but the hospital environment was grim. It smelled and the monitors were so morbid to look at. I got my period just before the urine sample so I now get to go back on MOnday and give a new sample. Good times.

I spent most of the day in a room with an a criminal who was dressed in orange and had shackles (is that the right word?) and was handcuffed. He was there to receive marrow. An officer with two guns (one as tall as I) was with us at all times.

The prisoner introduced himself to me.

"Hi, I'm Bunky"



"You're hungry?"

Cop says "No. His name is Bunky"


Me - "Okay"

So, Bunky, the cop and I hung out for 7 hours on and off. i've never seen neon orange and I went to UVA where orange is one of our colors. It was like Day Glo Orange.

I"m off to eat something now - and to not think about mortality (hard not to do after spending a day in the hospital in all sorts of testing sites).