Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ready or Not, Here We Come

Monday was a day.

Clyde and I spent the better part of yesterday at the University of Wisconsin Hospital so I could undergo my pre-transplant lab work. The plan for the day seemed straight-forward enough. Arrive around 9:30, have blood drawn, pee in a cup, fill out paperwork, call it a day. For all intents and purposes, thats what happened.

Clyde and I had agreed that she would accompany me on my maiden voyage into the vast frontier that is the UW Hospital and the transplant process. For over 20 years it was she that was observed by friends and family as she was poked and prodded by the health professionals and she relished the idea of witnessing the wince on the face of another as the needle went in. It's hard to blame her. Not that she took pleasure in the pain of another, but understand where she's coming from. She's the pro in that environment and it can be gratifying to put one's expertise on display in support of a fledgling patient.

The experience was a bit more thorough that I had planned. The afore-mentioned tests were indeed administered. Additionaly we went to see the facility in which my blood cells will be harvested. Jan, the coordinator, took her turn at evaluating my physical and emotional health. Then my very own transplant doctor, an obviously wise, 40-something man whose name escapes me, took his turn at the same process. Questions were asked and answered by both me and the medical team. In the end, though the infectious disease portion of the blood tests are not yet back, we all agreed that my health and blood compatibility will work well as the source of the needed blood cells.

Looking back on the experience, the unexpected part of the day was the massive reality of it all. For the first time, the major players, the medical team, Clyde and I, were actually acting on what had been, to this point, a fantasy, a dream, a plan. This transplant had, in every way, started. No longer were we envisioning what it would be like, how it would look, how it would feel. It was really happening.

As much as that is a good thing, it also brought us all closer to the fears and risks that go along with the promise. How will Clyde feel in the weeks and months to come. How long will it take for all of us to see results. Holy crap, here we go. After more than 20 years of a lifestyle dictated by the needy demands of a disease, the door to a different way of life had been opened. No longer is this an "off in the distant future" event. The time has come.

While I'm sure she'll adapt quickly and happily to her disease-free exsitence, the reality of the process and imminent life change are huge. For the first time, I saw Clyde's emotions come to the surface. For the first time since early 1989, I saw my own emotions about her illness on display. The clinical steps of the day were expected. The emotional feature was a complete surprise.

Since leaving the clinic early Monday afternoon, I am overwhelmingly convinced that the transplant will be a success. The events of Monday simply made the reality of the process huge and real.

Be well.

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