So the sun peeks through the plastic, very beige curtains to awake me to the first thought today: it’s sunny! Quickly followed by “This is the last big step before I get to become Betsy 2.0”. I am laying in my hospital bed, in an amazing facility in one of my all time favorite cities! The windy city, Chicago!
Out that same window I see Lake Michigan, a sprawling city and views of the med school that has taught and is teaching these great folks how to combine science, brains, decades of research together for my perfect storm. Take a disease that one day at a time is trying to kill me and flip the script! Flip that completely and re-educate my immune system to stop giving me “the dermas”.
The fixed schedule is almost exhausted as I’m finishing up “Day – 1” (Tuesday). Day-6 through Day-2 has been chemo and other juice to mitigate the side effects of the chemo. Those pre-meds (what this sports nut calls pregame) starts at 10AM. Get this drug on board to protect the kidneys, that one for the liver and oh don’t forget all the ANTI- this and ANTI- that meds. They keep simple things at bay to prevent infection and dire consequences. And for dessert, gallons and gallons of my personal fave PREDNISONE 🙂 but even it has an anti-agitation chaser to keep me smooth.
As I am typing this I think of the amazing doctor and wonder “Does Doctor Burt worry each and every time he does this? Is it now so normal he doesn’t stress?” I would stress if I were him but oh well, let me come back to the final chemo day.
The poison I got yesterday (“Day-2” Monday) was that cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) once again. I can remember it was one simple approx 70 minute push of the drug back in Feb that took ALMOST every hair on my body. Rocky says it missed a few 🙂 It also did the the primary job: prep my body for stem cell business. In February it was for harvest, and yesterday was to finish driving my immune system down toward oblivion.
I know in my soul it will do the job it was meant to. You see Days-5, -4, and -3 were also chemo but it was a different flavor of chemo, fludarabine. Still toxic metal, still strong enough to get the job done but chemo that didn’t stress my heart as much. Scleroderma has started to damage my pulmonary system (lungs and now heart) so the knowledgeable staff chose the “heart-safe” protocol for me. It’s not their first rodeo!
The chemo came, I took it like a warrior pumped up by my God, the love of all of you and an unshakeable faith. Not once did I doubt for a millisecond that it was the right thing. I have known that if I was granted the opportunity then this is the answer for me. Rocky, Victoria, and Josh were here to support, family close has helped so much. I am so blessed to have the support. Below are a few pictures from the evening walk when I was up to doing my daily laps.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) is “Day-0” and I get my harvested stem cells back. That’s what all of the last year has been leading up to (well, since I learned about this procedure last June :-). Grateful almost beyond words for all the opportunities and paths that have been gifted to me, I can only say….
Thank You – Thank You – Thank You – Thank You – Thank You