November 15, 2014
So I am not dead yet and happy to say I made it through the stem cell surgery Thursday with flying colors (what the hell does that even mean? Josh shut up about googling it). Thanks for all your well wishes. I was awake for the surgery itself as they test your cognitive functionality even while its going on. It was an incredible experience to be one of the first few US patients to partake in such a groundbreaking and optimistic trial. It basically mimicked a spinal tap (note: see this version instead http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088258 ) except for injecting 'product' back into my spinal cord. It was an out of body experience hearing Dr. announce to the team "Alright product is injecting.... 2 minutes, 1:30, 1 minute... 30 seconds... alright all product has been injected!" You're laying there and your only stream of conscience is the deepest prayers (Please God! For the most part I've been a great person... I really try to be a good human being. I know there was that one time. And that time. Oh shit, yeah that time too. But please God throw me a bone here; let there be light....and stem cells seeping into my body). Then came the 24 shots of 'product' in my triceps and biceps. I had a full spectrum of thoughts going through my head from this is going to do nothing to I'm going to be able to speak again to everything in between.
I got back to my room in some pain, couldn't eat for a few more hours and just tried relaxing. Man I was hungry. FINALLY I got the OK to gobble down some comida de delicioso de hospital (Spanish was never my strong suit). At that exact time it was probably one of the Top 5 moments of my life (at least Top 10) as I hadn't eaten in 18 hours. I flip off the plate cover for a little bit of sunshine sprinkled with some star light and realized my expectations were grossly and fraudulently too high. I would not feed that plate to our dog. A dried looking turkey shaving with hardened gravy on top and the worst looking/smelling broccoli of my life (and I love brocolli). But alas, I saw my true heaven... mashed potatoes! You can't mess those up and they even gave you a little side of butter/salt. I grab my spoon, fully prepared to mimic my favorite jet fighter plane with a little dip into the potaters and eventual smooth landing in my mouth. But just before takeoff, there was a mechanical error....my spoon couldn't come close to breaking the rock hard force-field of the potatoes. Maybe it was more of a de-icing issue. Regardless, I chose to go on to the 19th hour of no food! I was dreaming of Red's stew in 'Orange is the new Black.'
The post-op was intense with the doctors doing hourly neuro and physical exams as serious conditions can occur once you inject anything that has been growing into your body. They were specifically concerned about meningitis. Any lack of 1,000% sterile environment (or the driver driving the drug 'product' from Boston to UMass doing his best Harry Shagon Wagon driving imitation) and contamination can occur. All the signs looked good, except for a pounding headache, a little back butt-hurt and a fever that was partially masked by drugs. 2 hours into it and the Mind F%#& had already begun. "Should I be feeling more symptoms? What does this mean," In Israel everyone got drug and half the people had symptoms afterward so they don't know if that was due to the drug or the procedure itself. So there's really no way of knowing about placebo, but that doesn't ease one mind. Special thanks to Dr. Owegi and Diane, Dr. Brown and the great nursing staff (Kathryn!). Also Mom, Dad, Sara, Josh, Mel and a surprise visit from the Musto's! Last but not least, my poor fiance Lindsay! Who stayed with me both nights in a rather uncomfortable chair against my best wishes for her. What can I say, she's the best.
I'm finally about to be discharged and then we'll see what the future holds. I am definitely in great spirits and anxious to see what the coming months will bring. Part of the great spirits is knowing I'm about to devour a sweet juiced, butter braised lobster tail (and probably some 'turf' too). Thank you guys for everything. All the texts and facebook messages made me smile. Thanks for doing the "No Placebo" dance with me!
I'll check back in soon - Love you all and God Bless. Make it a great day [I used to get so annoyed when people would sign off with that. "Oh make it a super duper great day." Relax dork and go get another latte ha] Amazing what a little perspective will do for you on life and your favorite barista). Life's too short to not make your day a good one.