*light at the end of the tunnel: a long-awaited indication that a period of hardship or adversity is nearing an end.
On Day +13, I went to visit George and he was lounging in his recliner, tired and still not feeling great. He still had mouth pain, but he said it wasn’t as bad.
Not long after I arrived, a representative from Penn Home Infusion came in to talk to us. She said she had been informed that George was being discharged the next day. Huh? I don’t think so! His counts are still too low! We just didn’t see how that could be. But, she said she was there to demonstrate how to use the home pump to administer George’s daily magnesium infusions and how to flush his PICC line. It didn’t seem too difficult and I think we will do fine!
About 15 minutes after she left, George’s phone rang. It was Penn Home Infusion calling to set an appointment for their first home visit! George said, yeah…sorry I can’t do that right now. Nobody has even told me when I’m being discharged! So, the woman he talked to said to call her back when we knew.
It just felt like something was going on behind the scenes and nobody let us in on the secret. Why did these people think George was leaving the hospital the next day?? It was kind of exciting, but also a little confusing.
A nurse came in during our visit and said they were transitioning him from IV tacrolimus (anti-rejection drug) to oral pills. She unhooked the tubing from George’s PICC line and he was suddenly free from his “little buddy”, (aka the IV pole). And that’s how it would be every afternoon and night from then on out! He would still need IV infusion in the mornings, though. So, we decided to take a walk around the hospital floor and get George some exercise. He hasn’t felt up to it for several days. It was awesome for George to walk freely without being hooked up to any IVs! It felt good and liberating and encouraging!
On the morning of day +14, exactly two weeks after his transplant, the doctor came in to give George some good news! First, his counts continue to rise! His white count has gone from .4 yesterday to .7 today! And his platelet and hemoglobin counts are steadily rising as well. She said she was very happy with his progress and that he would probably be discharged in the next couple of days! Also, they would be removing the Hickman catheter from his chest today! So exciting!
The doctor gave him a discharge checklist. He must complete or achieve each item on the list before he can come home. Those items are:
· Have the Hickman line removed
· Have nausea under control
· No longer need IV fluids
· No fevers
· Be eating close to 50% of meals
· Have blood counts that are recovering
So as of today, he has met two of the requirements: Hickman removed and blood counts recovering! He had an episode of nausea and dry heaving last night. Of course, he was watching the January 6th hearing, so that’s understandable. But, seriously folks…we are getting there!
While we can now see the end of the tunnel of this transplant hospitalization, we know there’s another tunnel waiting when we get home. One tunnel at a time, right? We got this!
Although I understand the biological and scientific concepts of the transplant…the razing of George’s bone marrow, the introduction of the donor’s stem cells, the engraftment of the donor cells, and then the production of new blood cells by the donor cells, which have become a part of George’s body, I can’t help but get choked up by the whole miracle of it all. Of this new life…this rebirth…this second chance. And I am humbled and grateful…and in awe. In awe of the way this all worked, in awe of the health care providers who made it all happen, in awe of the researchers who got us to this point, and ultimately, in awe of my husband who has come so far and endured so much since his diagnosis of leukemia in January. And grateful to God for carrying us through this whole process.