The Lonely Donor, Part V: Preparation

 

Not sniffing my pits, just showing off all the bruises and spots from my subcutaneous chicken-wing filgrastim shots.
Not sniffing my pits, just showing off all the bruises and spots from my subcutaneous chicken-wing filgrastim shots.

 

Good morning, fourth metatarsal.

Hello, tibia. Hello, fibula. Right back atcha,’ femoral head.

Unfolding from my fetal position among the dogs and husband, today I can feel my thoracic spine, right there at T5. The metacarpal bones of my right hand spent the fretful night reminding me that I am, in fact, right-handed.

This is my life on filgrastim – the stem-cell stimulating drug. I got two shots of it per day for five days leading up to and including the donation – one shot in each chicken wing, among the ample, subcutaneous margins of my triceps.

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The Lonely Donor, Part IV: That’s Why They Call Me Fed-Ex

When it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight.
When it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight.

When you’re carrying a box labeled “HUMAN SPECIMEN,” people get out of your way. Sure, you may have to stand in line at the FedEx office, but I can assure you that no one will crowd your personal space.

I came to this discovery when I called Be The Match to alert my donation coordinator of some travel plans. Three weeks out from my postponed peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, I’d agreed to give them a heads-up on geographic changes to my whereabouts – a medical tether, if you will.

“Hi Chi, it’s Stacy. I’m headed to California on Thursday, back on Sunday. I know you said it could be five weeks or more before we rescheduled the donation. Any word on the patient?”

“We have not heard anything regarding the patient’s status. We do not contact them. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear anything. Just go and have a nice time on your trip.”

Don’t call them. They’ll call us: Welcome to my life in sales.

15 minutes later, Chi’s caller-ID popped up on my mobile. I rolled my eyes, assuming she probably forgot to check my pregnancy status again or see if I’d shared any unclean needles with the prison population.

“Hi Stacy, it’s Chi. You won’t believe this, but as soon as I hung up the phone with you, the patient’s coordinator called. Are you available on [ REDACTED ] for the peripheral blood stem-cell transplant?”

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The Lonely Donor, Part III: Postponed

Germ-free and living large.
Germ-free and living large.

You have been cleared to donate, but the patient is not ready to receive your gift at this time.

That time was to have been this week, or thereabouts, and now who knows when it’s going to happen. My donation has been deferred… again.

I would like to say that I had been training up for this moment, like so many triathlons before: Monitoring my food intake (high potassium, calcium and magnesium – low saturated fats); denying myself the pleasures of drink; ensuring proper hydration; getting plenty of sleep and avoiding any reckless shenanigans that might jeopardize my ability to give.

In truth, it’s not hard to register to donate bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC – the method I’m scheduled to undergo) or even to undergo the procedure. Can you sacrifice a little bit of time? Yes. Overcome a slight aversion to needles? Of course you can. Forgo running with scissors or jaywalking? Seriously?

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The Lonely Donor, Part II: In Case You Were Wondering, I’m Not Pregnant

If any of these pregnancy tests come back positive, we have a problem, Houston.
If any of these pregnancy tests come back positive, we have a problem, Houston.

“Hi Stacy, it’s Chi from the National Marrow Donor Program. I have a question about your pregnancy test.”

Pardon me, I just lost bowel control.

One doesn’t have questions about a pregnancy test. It’s pretty much a binary, foregone conclusion: Yes / No. On / Off.  + / . You either are or you aren’t.

Given that my husband has had a vasectomy, and that I have had a uterine ablation which rendered my insides a rocky place where a super-seed escapee from a statistically improbable, failed vasectomy could find no purchase, Chi’s question about my pregnancy test means we have bigger problems than my making a bone-marrow stem-cell donation for an anonymous cancer patient:

Baby Jesus is second-coming out of my vagina. Prepare for the Apocalypse… NOW!

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