These were the first words uttered by Erica as she and I (Jamie) woke up at 5:00 this morning to get to the hospital for her port removal and catheter insertion. Another day of doctors and nurses and poking and prodding. There is no doubt that the girl is fed-up with this reality and who can blame her? She managed to have a few days of normalcy visiting friends in L.A. earlier this week, but now it’s back to life at Stanford Medical Center. The good news is that everything went very well, no complications at all. She is now back at her Mama’s house resting and awaiting the arrival of some friends for a low-key evening o’ fun.
As far as her schedule goes, she has two more days as a “free woman” as she describes it and then she heads to the hospital on Monday for radiation prep. Tuesday through Friday will be spent at the hospital undergoing full body radiation in preparation for the transplant. On Saturday she checks into the hospital for the transplant and starts receiving high doses of chemo for two days. Tuesday, April 29th is BMT day. For those of you who aren’t aware, the actual transplant process is basically just a blood transfusion. Her BMT doc described it as “anti-climactic.” The time spent in the hospital post-transplant will be spent watching for signs of GVHD (graft versus host disease), watching for any signs of infection, getting her counts back up, and rebuilding her strength.
A quick update on visitors for the next 2-3 months. The general rule of thumb for post-transplant patients is to limit the number of visitors the patient has for the very critical 2-3 months post-transplant. It is recommended that Erica have a core team of caregivers and that other visits wait until after this period is over. No one can say exactly how long this will be, it is all dependent on how she is doing, but 2-3 months seems to be the number that keeps popping up. So, Judy, Jaci, Bess, myself and a few other close friends will be forming Team Erica and covering her round the clock. The reason the docs recommend against having more visitors is simply because with every new visitor, there is an increased risk of infection. It is a numbers game. For all those folks who were hoping to come visit Erica over the next couple months, my suggestion to you is SKYPE! Erica will have her computer and webcam in the hospital (we can’t promise she will always be up to using it) but it will be there to let her interact with everyone. For those of you who don’t have Skype, you can go to www.skype.com and download the free software. From there you just need to purchase a webcam available at any Best Buy or Circuit City.
As you can imagine Erica does not like the idea of not being able to see all of her family and friends that have stood by her, but she is the first to say that she is going to do whatever the doctors say and follow their instructions to a T. As soon as it is safe to start allowing other visitors we will let you all know. We will be blogging constantly and we are all available to chat on the phone if anyone would like more detailed updates. As soon as Erica is checked-in to her new “suite” at the hospital, we will post her new mailing address. Please, please, please send as many cards, letters, parcels as you like. She is a big fan of parcels. ;)