And never I have felt so alive: Lying in a hospital bed, the apheresis machine sucking stem cells from my veins for the better part of a workday. 6 hours, 10 minutes to be exact.
I reported for duty at Mayo Clinic Hospital at 7:15 AM in my favorite, long-sleeved dress-pajamas with my lucky New Orleans Saints Super Bowl Champions T-shirt underneath. They needed ready access to my veins, and I needed a good omen… or three.
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.
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.
“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?”
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?