Holly Easley began her cancer journey five years ago when she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). After two types of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, she says she loves life, is improving daily and enjoys blogging about the cancer experience at http://hollyeasley.wordpress.com/.
My husband and I arrived in Houston a week early for my stem cell transplant. We wanted to get him moved into an apartment and I needed several tests prior to the surgery.
My appointments that week included a CT scan, anesthesia assessment, transplant coordinator visit, bone marrow biopsy, echocardiogram, subclavian catheter insertion, complete pulmonary function test, social work visit, business office appointment and an appointment with Chitra Hosing, M.D., my stem cell transplant doctor.
One of the most helpful things I experienced that week was a stem cell pre-admission class. In the class, the nurse told us about everything from hospital admission to the dismissal. It was very informative.
Beginning the journey
I was admitted for my stem cell transplant on May 17, 2011. My husband's mother had passed away four days earlier, so he was in San Angelo, Texas, with his family. My daughter and granddaughter came to help me move into my hospital room. However, before we headed for the hospital, we stopped to eat my "last meal." I knew I was about to have many dietary restrictions.
When we arrived at admissions, everything was ready so it only took a few minutes. Going up the elevator to the 11th floor was a very strange feeling. I knew I was beginning a very important journey and that it would be several weeks before I would be coming back down that elevator. Not to mention, we had a large suitcase, clothes and a wheelchair full of pictures and supplies I needed.
The room was small but nice. It had two chairs, a bedside table with drawers, a built-in closet with a desk and, most importantly, a window. The window and computer were my links to the outside world.
Besides the usual pajamas, robes, slippers and toiletries, I took sweat pants, T-shirts, hoodies, a pair of tennis shoes, my iPod, family pictures, books, my fuzzy blanket, my latest crochet project, my computer, a folding table to set it on and a folding chair to use with the computer (the chairs already in the room were the reclining type).
Please don't be afraid to bring all of your favorite things. Even though the room is small, you will find a place for everything.
One of the cool programs I participated in was the M&M exercise program.
On the first or second day, you are asked to walk as fast as you can while they time you and measure the distance. Every day you are encouraged to walk as much as you can. There are different colored circles cut out of construction paper that you punch into and out of a time clock each time you walk, so that they can keep track of the time you spend walking.
You get to tape these paper M&Ms on you door, and every week they are picked up and prizes are given out. This was a big deal.
I won a bandana, and on the last day before my dismissal I was given an M&M T-shirt. They ordered an orange T-shirt just for me, because that's my favorite color. The staff was amazing.
In a future post I will write about the staff, treatment, transplant and events leading up to my dismissal. The most important and awesome thing I want to stress now is that I was always treated with the utmost kindness and respect, which makes everything so much easier to bear.