Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day 3

And so it begins. Actually, last night I had my first "achy bone" pain. It was fairly mild, and it was in my ribs. It initially reminded me of how my chest feels when I've run too hard when I'm out of shape. Probably none of you have experienced that...but anyway, it was different than I expected. I was expecting constant increasing pain and my bones to feel swollen or something. It's not really like that at all.

This morning's injections were better than yesterday. Probably the best day yet. Again, because I was prepared, and the nurse warmed up the filgrastim and dispensed it slowly. (Thank goodness!) And she was really efficient. I was in a hurry today because I had some plans this morning, and I didn't want to be late. She was really nice and very accommodating. Unfortunately, I think she only works on Saturdays, because I would love to have her be my nurse again!

Each nurse deliberately places the injections in a different place each time. So now I've got this fun little collection of tiny red spots and/or bruises around my stomach within a few inches of my belly button. And I've still got a total of four more shots to go! Maybe I'll see if they connect into a cool design when it's all over.

Actually this process of donating peripheral blood stem cells and receiving filgrastim injections is part of an ongoing study to determine the effectiveness and long-term side effects versus a bone marrow transplant. It's been going on for over 10 years and the side effects are well documented, so I'm not concerned about being a "test subject." But as a result, I've been answering a lot of questions about if I'm experiencing pain, where, and its severity. This morning I rated all the pain as mild, when I felt it. It was mostly few and far between. And after my injections today, I would bump up the rating to moderate. Mostly. But it's hard to determine what would be called "severe."

Since I first felt the "achy" feeling last night, I've been trying to figure out a good way to describe it. It's not easy, because it's not like anything I've really felt before. Last night, it was more surprising than anything else, because I wasn't expecting that sort of sensation. It's a kind of dull pulsing feeling, mostly lasting for one or two seconds. Today, it moved down to my lower back and hips and continued in my ribs and sternum. It's starting to last longer, like five seconds or more, and definitely more intense. In spite of my whining here, I'm trying to be tough, but sometimes I can't help but wince because it comes on so suddenly and stronger than before. It feels like something should trigger it, like moving funny hurts when you pull a muscle, but it's not like that. Sometimes it hurts when I sit down, whereas I think it should be more uncomfortable to stand. This morning I walked to the garbage can and threw something away, and that started a major flare-up in my ribs. Perhaps it's not at all related to what I'm doing and just arbitrary, because I can't really figure it out. Even though I'm sure it will get worse tomorrow, I only have one more day to feel it. I've been told that the relief is almost immediate upon starting the extraction, which will be bright and early on Monday morning.

This has actually been a testimony building experience for me. Jon-Michael and I decided to think about having another baby after Bryce turned 2, which was in June. We began talking about it, and prayed about in July. I got an immediate and emphatic no! I was surprised, because I don't usually receive such direct answers to my prayers. After a few weeks I questioned that answer because I felt like it was a righteous desire. But as I reflected back, I knew I received a clear answer. It obviously wasn't the right time.

And not long afterward, I received the phone call that I was a possible match. After I answered the extensive health questionnaire, I received a call to clarify a few of my answers. I knew one in particular could be a was the one about whether or not we planned to get pregnant in the next 6 months. (It is extremely unsafe to receive filgrastim injections while pregnant, and they did multiple blood tests over the course of my preparation to verify that I was not pregnant before I received them.) We had originally hoped to be pregnant within six months, even if I had to wait a month, since it wasn't meant to be in July. But we discussed it and decided that if I was selected as a donor, then we would wait. But patience has never been my strong suit. After I began the process to find out if I was a good match for the patient, I wasn't confident that I would be a donor. The odds were not that great. So, doubting Heather that I am, prayed about it again. Well, I got my answer, and it was again, no.

Obviously, I was selected. Even without my patience and faith, things worked out as they were supposed to. Even though I'm sure I'm not able to share it as eloquently as I experienced it, I felt very blessed to be a part of this. It is just another testament to me that our Father in Heaven knows us. As individuals. He is as concerned for this man who will be the recipient of my stem cells, as He is for me and my desire to continue my family. Of course it's possible that there would be another person out there who would be a match for this man, but it's possible that there's not. And even if there is, it may be that they are not in a position to donate at this time. I really don't know the likelihood of all of that, but if I was selected as a match for this man, and we don't even live on the same continent, I feel like it's significant that I was in a position to donate. Not because of me. I'm not anyone special. But our Heavenly Father wants this man to be a recipient, and He made sure that someone was able to be a donor. I'm grateful to be part of that, something bigger than myself. I was given an informational video before the process started, and a woman said that she would do it again in a second. I haven't even finished everything, and I know I feel the same way.


Itty_Bitty_Wittes said...

Isn't it amazing how some answers are so clear while others you have to keep asking about? We had a similar situation last year around Halloween about trying to get pregnant again. I didn't understand it at the time but when N lost his job 8 weeks later it became abundantly clear why we were to wait. 19 weeks of unemployment has hard, but then Nathan got a job and HF gave us a little blessing 4 days later...and a great job!:)

You are going to help someone amazing! :) I admire you so much!

maugers said...

I love these posts Heather. It's so interesting to see how the process works and I love your testimonies at the end. Thanks for taking the time to blog about it. It makes me want to donate too (although with my health, they'd never take me). Keep up the good work, we're all thinking about you and who you're giving this gift too :)

Dad, Mom, and babies said...

This is Drew here... I am inspired. I am going on the 10th to sign up and register in person. A friend of my in college was on the receiving end of this procedure... he was a father of three children trying to get into medical school, which he did! So, thanks to a donor like you he is able to continue supporting his family on this earth! Thanks, Heather!