Justin has officially been living with his new stem cells in his body for a week. To say the first week post-transplant was a rollercoaster would be an understatement.
The transplant itself, as I mentioned last week, is rather uneventful. The two days following transplant were also rather uneventful, medically speaking. Justin had a great couple of days after the procedure, his sister stayed with him over the weekend and he had a rotating list of visitors to come and keep him company. We even celebrated his new birthday with dinner and cake – Justin was feeling well, but both of us knew that just around the corner would be when the real fight started.
In the world of bone marrow transplants days are measured based on their relation to the actual transplant day. Transplant day is Day 0. Everything before is a negative day, everything after is a positive day. Around day +2 his counts started to drop slowly, and by day +5 he had pretty much hit rock bottom in terms of the numbers. This is all to be expected, bottoming out is a very important part of the engrafting process.
As Justin’s body begins to build itself back up using his new immune system he has experienced fevers upwards of 103 degrees – spiking and breaking on a continual rotation. Low platelet counts means infusions in the early morning hours after the fever breaks. Headaches, body aches, nausea, mouth and throat sores, frequent diarrhea, and overall fatigue are all par for the course, and he’s had them all. Justin’s team treat each symptom as they arise and are constantly monitoring his progress and condition.
Over the next couple of days Justin’s counts will slowly begin to start rising as his body begins to repair itself with the help of the medications and patient protocols to protect his body as it rebuilds. Every day Justin is expected to brush his teeth (twice), rinse with salt/soda (every time he goes into the bathroom), take a shower with anti-bacterial soap, take three 10 minutes walks, and drink at least 4 large cups of water. This is all in addition to resting, eating, and well…just living. This protocol is designed to help his body heal and prevent as many side effects as possible.
Currently, Justin is in his most vulnerable state – with virtually no immune system he is susceptible to infections that could compromise his recovery. Due to the nature of this process we have been told to limit his visitors during this time, the fewer people coming in and out of his room, the better chance his body has to heal.
Justin’s room is covered in the cards that everyone has sent, thank you so much for the thoughts, prayers, gifts, positive vibes, and well wishes. I am literally running out of space to hang up all of the sweet things that have come our way in the last two weeks. I am a firm believer that a positive attitude, a little humor, and comforts from home aid in the healing process.
I will update again next week as Justin continues to make progress and gets closer to his discharge from the hospital to continue his recovery at home. (Yay!)