“Wow! What a ride.” That’s what I expected to say about now. I wasn’t thinking the trip would be like a giant roller coaster. That would have been too much. Instead, I thought it might be like riding a ski lift in the summer: gliding up the side of a beautiful mountain, viewing mountain range after mountain range like waves rolling into the distance. But no, the Stem Cell Transplant (SCT) experience has not been like that. It has been more like a ride from my past.
Decatur, Illinois used to be the host city of Chap’s Amusement Park. Now Chap’s never did compare to a modern park such as Six Flags, but for a pre-teen, it was an exciting place. One feature was the train ride which circled the park and traveled thorough a field before it entered a fake tunnel then returned to the park. The trip was slow and boring for an adult, but at seven my friends and I loved it. Nothing ever happened. No wild animals jumped out at us. There were no thrilling trips through or even over a raging river, just a sedate break from the excitement of the main park.
That is until the trip that made personal history. On the last time I rode it, just before the train entered the tunnel, while it was still in the field, it derailed. A low speed derailment in carriages that would barely hold six people was in no way dangerous, unless you were hanging out the window. We weren’t. The cars gently rolled on their left sides. Being energetic youth, we climbed out the widow and walked through the field back to the park with its more exciting rides. WOW! My very first train crash – and my last, I hope.
My experience with a SCT has been like that; a lot of routine and little excitement. The only derailment was a trip to the ER because of a 100.8 fever that was gone by the time the staff checked me in. That did not prevent a multiple day inpatient stay only to discover four little cells of a virus that 80% of adults carry every day. The ultimate treatment has been a daily infusion of an anti-viral drug that Melanie gives me in our Texas home.
Life is now back to the routine daily visits to the Ambulatory Treatment Center for a three hour infusion of Magnesium and Potassium. At the same time I receive a one hour infusion of an anti-fungal medication. Routine. Nothing exciting. Rather boring, actually. When it comes down to it, after a Stem Cell Transplant, boring is good.
No, the ride is not a “Wow” experience, but it is rewarding to know that my donor’s stem cells are now my stem cells and that they are doing their job replacing my own cells and destroying the remaining 5% of CLL cells (down from 30% before the transplant).