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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I'm Out! (April 10, 2007)

Hello All,

After 21 days in the slammer, I have escaped! And what a crazy 21 days they were. In all reality, my body tolerated the treatment much better than any of us expected. For the first 5 days I was in the hospital, I had a constant chemotherapy IV drip. Although I did have the pleasure of experiencing some of the side-effects of the drugs, each day came as a surprize when I really didn't feel too bad. I kept expecting the terrible side-effects I had been warned of by doctors and nurses, but fortunately, they never really came in full force. I would honestly say that the most difficult part of the hospital stay was the stay itself. For 20 days I wasn't able to even step outside my small hospital room, and some days my family members weren't allowed to see me due to a little cold virus going through our household. Our baby Tess wasn't able to visit at all. I really did keep pretty busy... mostly just to avoid insanity!

On the 26th of March, I was infused (transplanted) with my sister's cells subsequent to the week of chemotherapy. From that Monday until Friday, I basically had no immune system to speak of. But on Good Friday, we finally got some indication that the transplant had worked. Slowly my cell counts started to creep back up (with the help of some specialized growth factors). Although my counts are nearly normal now, I am still severely immunocompromised as my new cells are immature and lack the ability to mount a defense. However, on Easter, the doctors felt I was doing well enough I could leave the hospital nearly a week before originally planned and surprized us all by letting me walk out the next day. (I give a lot of credit to my private inflatable nurse, Doris) I will now visit the bone marrow transplant unit as an outpatient 3 times a week for blood tests, to check for infections and monitor graft versus host disease which now becomes a very big concern. This routine will carry on for around 100 days which is July 4th. This will be a type of independence day for me!

The first week of May I will graduate from my orthodontic residency. Although I will have my orthodontic certificate, my department has been kind enough to allow me to maintain student status which will allow them to continue to pay my small stipend and my health insurance. What a blessing that is!

Yesterday, Quinn and my mom assisted me in removing the remaining hair I had on my head. This totally bald look is a big improvement from the one I had in the hospital. We had selectively pulled out chunks of hair which made my head look geographic like the globe (alright, insert the large head jokes here!). It is good to be back with my rambuncious boys and our sweet baby Tess. The bottom line is that it is so good to be home.

My family and I can't thank you enough for your thoughts, prayers, and concern. We have obviously felt much greater power than our own. We have been strengthened physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Thanks to those who came to the hospital, called on the phone, or entertained me with emails. It truly allowed the time to pass easier. We hope you will continue to remember our family as we know we have a long road ahead.

Thank you again,

Many of you know that prior to checking into the hospital, I made a therapeutic squirrel launcher... therapeutic in that it allowed me to have something to design, do, think about, and laugh about. However, you may be interested to know the squirrel launcher video on my site hosted by UNC was blocked of all traffic. It appears that it was using a little too much bandwidth... in the 9 days before it was shutdown it received 85,000 hits and used over a terabyte of bandwidth! Luckily, the server administrator thought it was funny and decided to host it on UNC's streaming media server. The following link should work:
For all of those that love the little tree rats... none of them were hurt and they keep coming back for more!