I find myself about two weeks away from my second stem cell transplant to treat Multiple Myeloma. My first transplant was in 2013 and lasted about six years, which is quite a long run for the disease to stay in remission. Unfortunately, all things must pass, but at least this time I know what to expect.
I spent all day Friday at the Duke Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic and Duke Hospital South, undergoing a series of tests to ensure that I’m physically fit enough to undergo the transplant. Blood work, pulmonary tests, x-rays, ultrasounds, EKGs, and a full skeletal survey took most of the day. Luckily, everything came out fine and I have only one more test to go through, the dreaded bone marrow aspiration. Without going into details. the bone marrow aspiration is one of the most painful things I’ve experienced and I hate it. This will be the sixth one I’ve gone through. If I could do the transplant process without ever having to do this one thing, I’d be a happy man.
So, as I said, I’m tentatively scheduled to undergo the transplant in about two weeks. I’ll be in an apartment just down the road from the ABMT clinic for two to three weeks for monitoring, infusions of whatever I might need, etc., then, if all goes well, I’ll be at home for another three to four weeks before I can go back to work. It takes several weeks for the new stem cells to engraft, so I’m basically under quarantine until my body has recovered enough to be around people, approximately six weeks from the date of transplant.
I’ve said it many times, my first transplant went as well as possible. I had it really easy compared to what a lot of people go through; I spent a week in the hospital pre-transplant when my blood counts bottomed out, then a quick trip to the emergency room at Duke one night post transplant when I developed a fever. Otherwise, my stem cells engrafted quickly and I was back to work as soon as they’d let me, just six weeks post-transplant. It took forever for my energy levels to come back, but I didn’t let that keep my from returning to work full time. I hope this transplant goes as well as my first.
So, just to stay positive, here’s a beautiful shot of the interior courtyard of Duke Hospital South. Much of the hospital is pretty generic, looking and feeling like any other giant hospital. Just outside the windows of the walkway, though, is a beautiful section of the hospital that’s much older than what you typically see. I took a few minutes to walk out into the courtyard to take a few photos.
In the middle of a bustling city hospital, it’s a peaceful and beautiful space.