It's a Mess: Team Edward
I've really been procrastinating writing this blog post. It's much more fun to watch The Bachelorette than reflect on my last hospital visit -- especially when the last hospital visit was my worst appointment thus far. I'd much rather get lost in the drama of Hannah B's relationships than be caught up in my own hospital drama (it's nothing like Grey's Anatomy).
This picture makes it seem like I was bundled up and cozy right? WRONG. Little did you know, there's a 12 inch long, 1/2 inch thick TUBE in my neck that goes all the way to my HEART. That bag of cream based tomato soup in the left corner? Oh, that's just a bag of my stem cells. No big deal.
Okay wait, let's back it up. So July 5 was "Harvest Day." That is not a reference to fresh fruits and vegetables. Harvest day is the day my stem cells gets collected and stored. Do you have any idea how they do that? Because I had no idea.
Step 1: Get a central line
I chose the one happy picture I had of myself with the tube in my neck. You're welcome.
Getting the tube put in is a whole process in and of itself. It's literally a surgery! The interventional radiologist gave me a shot of lidocaine in my neck, cut a hole in me, and then shoved a tube into my jugular. Mind you, I was awake the whole time. The outside skin can be numbed, but let me tell you, you can feel that sucker slide down into your chest. It basically feels like someone is shoving a slithering snake into your neck. They know it's in the right place once they HIT YOUR HEART. They call it, "tickling the heart." If that's what falling in love feels like, count me out!!!
They never explained that part to me beforehand, so I laid on the table thinking, "Oh my gosh, this is it. I'm flatlining on the table. It's been a good life." The chaotically beeping heart monitor did not help to ease my anxiety. I'm writing this blog today, so I did not flatline on the table, and apparently it's completely normal to feel like that because they're punching you in the heart with a tube. Who would've thought?
Step 2: Go to the blood center and sit there for six hours
Yup, you heard me -- six hours. Sounds like a perfect time to binge Stranger Things amiright? The problem is, having a massive tube in your neck that hurts every time you move, talk, or swallow and nurses checking up on you every 20 minutes is not conducive to binge watching Netflix originals. It's really not conducive to really just about anything in life -- except harvesting stem cells I guess.
I'm connected to a whole slew of tubes. They suck my blood out, my blood goes through a machine where it spins around really fast to separate the stem cells from the rest of the blood, and then the stem cells go into a bag while the rest of the blood goes back into my body. I'm sure there are scientific terms for everything I just described, but let's be real, none of us know what those terms actually mean. There's a reason I'm studying business.
Step 3: Remove the tube
This step gave me the most anxiety. I could just imagine the tube sliding back up my jugular and popping out of my neck -- disgusting. Sure enough, that's exactly what the process was like. The nurse showed me the tube after they pulled it out. It was a lot thicker than I expected, and it was dripping with my blood. But I'm not even done yet. (Listen, if I had to go through this whole process, I'm going to make you read about it)
After that, they scrub (hard emphasis on the word scrub) the fresh wound, cover it with three layers of bandages, and apply immense pressure to the area. In the words of my nurse, "press a lot harder for a lot longer than you think." It was definitely a lot harder for a lot longer than I thought necessary.
Step 4: Wait for results
The doctors needed to collect 2 million stem cells. That sounds a little greedy. My stem cells were sent to the lab so they could count them all up and see if they got enough. If they didn't get enough, I'd have to come back the next day and do the whole process all over again. Yuck.
They ended up collecting 15 million (okay super greedy)! I'm young and healthy (besides the MS), so my body was able to produce a lot of stem cells! That just means my body is an overachiever.
Step 5: Get the heck out of there
I was more than ready to go home. The procedure was invasive and painful. I was physically and emotionally drained at the end of the day, and my family definitely saw that.
I needed a few days to step away from this procedure before I could write about it. I'm glad I took time to process everything. I needed that time to heal -- both physically and emotionally.
Now I can make some jokes about getting the blood sucked out of my body. It left some pretty cute vampire bites. I'm bringing back the 2008 Twilight craze. Consider me team Edward.