The stem cells are in. The transplant is done. Now, we wait. But today was good, though it started slow. I woke up sore and shambled awkwardly out of bed to get down and sit with my mom. To my absolute delight, my favorite nurse (KATIE!) knocked at the door, swung her head around the corner and yelled, "Surprise!" I almost cried when I saw her face. I was so grateful she was doing my transplant. I asked her to postpone my morning infusion so I could sit with my mom and she happily agreed. When I got to my mom, she had not even been able to start donating yet because they were waiting on her labs, so I decided to head back and see if I could get my morning routine done before she got going. I settled in for my infusion and, while contemplating breakfast, started to feel very queasy. This has been happening every morning, and usually if I eat I start to feel better, but I knew today was different. I threw up. A lot. Over and over. If you understand transplants well you know it is a stupid goal, but I had nevertheless set a goal for myself not to throw up during this transplant. I had a major problem with it during my first and second transplants, and I really wanted to overcome it this time. No such luck it seems.
So I called my nurse, got some medicine, took deep breaths, and ordered my breakfast. The food here is not great, but they do allow us access to their coffee/tea stand, and I have been happily ordering a chai latte every morning. It's like Starbucks, but insurance pays for it. :-) I did not want to eat, but I wanted my latte, and I would get through the meal. Unfortunately, when room service (they actually call it that. They want you to feel like you are in hotel with lot's and lot's of needles, medicines, tubes, and other assorted horrors, apparently) showed up and I took a huge gulp of my much needed drink, what could be only be described as burnt black coffee hit my tongue. And I threw up some more. Then I called room service, not in the best of moods. Apparently, they ran out of chai flavoring and just decided to send me up a plain old coffee. Not my thing. So that sucked. And I had that stupid voice in the back of my head saying, "Wow...you are already throwing up, can't even get your morning latte, yep, today is not going to go well." And I told it to shut-up.
I marched back down and sat with my mom (who did amazing, again), then marched back to my room and prepared to face the battle. And then my "birthday cake" showed up. The hospital sends up a piece of cake or pie to celebrate, and I had been given lemon meringue. My favorite. And what I actually ended up facing was an amazing day filled with family and literally endless laughter. First of all, my mom and dad-in-law, along with my sister and brother-in-law were supposed to be leaving for their vacation this morning, but they missed their flight. So, they all stopped in and brought me gag gifts and treats. :-) Then, my hubby and daughter came and I finally got to wrap Rorie in my arms! And I was completely surrounded by family (Farley and Long) during my transplant, which had absolutely no complications. My dad prayed over me as the cells started to go in and he asked that Jesus would calm the coming storm just as He did out on the boat. I felt immeasurable peace. Some people spike fevers immediately, get achy, feel short of breath, etc. I felt wonderful. Loved. Surrounded. Protected. And heavily medicated, it's true. ;-)
Rora played on the floor with her newest toys, zooming around the room and being a kid. The rest of the family laughed and joked the whole time, and my nurse joined right on in. Marcine (my sis-in-law) lovingly commented that my skin looked great and had great coloring. My nurse, without missing a beat, dryly replied, "It's the radiation." The entire room boomed with laughter. A passing PA stuck his head in to see what the ruckus was. My mom-in-law was hysterically laughing in a corner. It was absolutely perfect. I've never had such an amazing transplant, so I feel blessed and able to report that I think we've found the cure. This time, everything is going to be alright. And you know, even if this whole thing doesn't work, I wouldn't trade today for the world.
My hubby and dad went to pick Jen up from the airport, and I sat with my mom and Rora playing games. Then I sat and watched Aurora play with her toys and enlist my mom to play the character of "little sister." You see, she has two butterflies here, and one butterfly with snowflakes on its wings back home, so she composed the story that the two butterflies here were lost and looking for their snowflake mommy, and they were going to ask the horse (another little toy my dad got her) for help. When they asked the horse for help, she told them they would have to find their mommy on their own. At this point I felt the motherly thing to do was insert a small reminder that, if Rorie were alone and lost, she should ask for help and not try to find me on her own. She said, "I know, Mommy," and continued to play. My mom, taking my cue (and being the little sister butterfly) said, "Big sister, maybe we should try and get the horse to help us, not do it on our own. We won't know until we try." Rorie responded (without missing a beat), "I am a mind-reader! I know! She can't help us!" I lost it. I couldn't stop laughing. My stomach hurt. My mouth was sore. It was so unbelievably cute. And the rest of the story was better, but you had to be there. My girl is amazing.
And then my sister walked into my room. I have missed her so much. And when she came in, it was like I had seen her only yesterday. I just know her. Distance and time apart don't matter. And I feel that way with both of my sisters. They are truly my best friends, and I cannot imagine a life without them. That is why I hope so much that Rorie can have siblings someday, because I don't honestly know where I would be had I not been given such extraordinary sisters.
Everyone is gone now, and I am sitting absolutely content with the added reassurance of my husband nearby. I love my family. I love my Savior. I love the blessings I see each day. I love the opportunities that I am given. And while I know that this is likely just the calm before the storm, I resolve to be thankful, and to love my life through the storm, because I know that it will come to an end. One of my favorite quotes is, "The darkest hour is only 60 minutes." And a two-day storm is not the end of the world. Besides, my lifeguard walks on water. And I get to see my sister and my daughter again tomorrow. From here on out it is positive numbered days and an uphill climb. I can't wait to see the view.