This is the sixth installment of the story of Jerry's Bone Marrow Transplant, which details my father-in-law's life saving bone marrow transplant at Johns Hopkins Cancer Center in Baltimore. Read the previous installment - Part Five: THE BIG DAY
Update on Jerry
We are a week past the bone marrow donation and Jerry is doing as well as can be expected. I took the photo of him and Chris together on Thursday and the mask is not for effect. I asked if we could take it off for the picture, but Jerry's immune system is so low that it's just too risky. None of us are sick, but we are keeping our distance anyway.
The numbers are dramatic. A normal person has a count of about 7000 white blood cells. When Jerry began the treatment a week and a half ago, he had 1550. The day of the transplant he had 200 and on the 18th, just 160. It's dangerously low, but exactly where they want it to be for the transplant to work. They are checking 42 different numbers, most relating to his blood, like glucose and platelets.
On Monday night at about 2:30 am, Maddy called us asking for Tylenol because Jerry had a fever. It was 100.5 and it was something that we were expecting, but the next day he was admitted when the fever went up to 103. He was in the hospital for three nights and everyone who entered his room, including Maddy, had to wear a gown, gloves and a mask.
They ran tests, but nothing came back with anything serious and so it was simply a routine part of the treatment. Jerry was also feeling the full effects of the chemo, with vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite. The day he left, he had nine bags of different antibiotics and anti-rejection meds being pumped into him. He was being visited every day by four different doctors, each doing their own exam and run down of the history and medications he was getting. It's been a rough week for him, but he is hanging in there and him coming home Thursday night was a relief for all of us, but especially Maddy.
Despite everything, they are still finding humor in it all. When I was taking the photo above, Maddy was on the sidelines telling Jerry to smile! There were also jokes about the "briefs" that Jerry had to wear because of the diarrhea, which they were calling diapers. However, the biggest laughs were about a mistaken word. A nurse had asked Jerry to remember three words, "nickel", "pony" and "chair". Later in the conversation, she asked him to repeat the words and when he said "nipple", the nurse was horrified! "Why would I say nipple?" she said. (Keep in mind she was wearing a mask and it would be easy to mistake what she said.) At the time, Jerry wasn't feeling well enough to laugh, but later it became something very funny to tell and by the next day even the nurse was giggling over it. They suggested the nurse change the word to "quarter".
Update on Chris
Chris is doing fantastic. He's still feeling a little tight in his lower back and hips, but he does not need to take Tylenol anymore, he's sleeping normally and he's been accompanying us out on the town. Thursday we went for a short walk and to lunch, and Friday we drove downtown and spent the afternoon wandering around. He still can't pick up Quinn, and he has moments when he is feeling sore, but overall it's such a huge improvement. He even spent a couple hours alone on Thursday in the resident's lounge playing the piano. This morning he took Jerry to the hospital for his daily 7:30 am appointment so that Maddy could get her hair done.
Update on the Rest of Us
Maddy is amazing. She is really keeping it together, totally on top of all the medications, at the hospital for 15 hours with Jerry while he was admitted and now taking him twice a day for his neupogen shot, anti-rejection meds and antibiotics. She's tired, but she is so totally in this with him that she can't even think about taking a break. She let Chris take Jerry to the hospital this morning only because she needs to get her hair done. It's a necessity and otherwise she insists on being with Jerry.
Gloria and I have each gotten a massage and are trading off on watching the three kids, or taking them out together. I've had to dig deep this week, it seems that the strength ran out and I needed to rejuvenate a little, but we have also been keeping busy and that helps to distract from everything. I was able to take some pictures (Typography at the B&O Railway Museum and Inner Harbor Night Lights) and post a few new entries on my blog (For Earth Day: Watch "The Mountain" by Terje Sorgjerd) and I even cooked dinner last night for everyone! Hank has been running errands and helping with the kids, he went back to NY for an interview and then returned the very next day. And the kids have been the kids, keeping us busy and laughing. For as challenging and stressful as this week has been, we are finding joy in the small moments and being perhaps more generous with each other than we have ever been.
We know everyone reading here is also on Team Jerry and so we decided to give away TWO Team Jerry hats! We've got black, grey, pink and green hats and the lucky winners will get to choose the color that they want. They are fantastic hats and we are so excited to share them with you, but here is the hitch, you need to submit a JOKE FOR JERRY. In the comments below, please submit your best joke. You've got all weekend to come up with a good one. On Sunday, April 24th at midnight I will close the comments and use a random number generator to determine the winners. If your joke is too long, or perhaps in questionable taste (those are welcome too!), please use the "Email Me" button in the top navigation to submit the joke and also leave a comment on this post that you sent it via email. For everything else though, please put your joke in the comments so that we can all enjoy them. Get your funny pants on people, we want to hear what you've got. Make Jerry laugh and win a Team Jerry hat!
Read the next installment - Part Seven: Team Jerry Hat Winners