Saturday, February 18, 2006

the last day

Yesterday was the last day of my stay at the hospital. It was day+15: the summation of three weeks and two days of drama. My WBC and platelet count shot up significantly from Thursday. My WBC went up to 5.4 and my platelet count went up to 22. Not bad. The Hgb, however, didn't change much. It was 8.9. Bita told me it wouldn't surprise her if by my follow-up appointment next week, my blood counts numbers climbed a lot higher.

Scott scheduled my follow-up appointment with Joanne, Dr. Schuster's assistant, for Wednesday morning at 10:30. Schuster is on vacation. I'll need to continue to adhere to the neutropenic diet for a least another week. I was told that Joanne will be able to inform me if I can drop the neutropenic diet at next week's appointment. Honestly, the diet isn't all that bad. I can imagine more restrictive diets. What can make the neutropenic diet so challenging, however, is the changed taste and intestinal problems (diarrhea or nausea) caused by the chemotherapy during treatment. Fortunately, I have noticed my taste improving during the past several days. Indeed, the color of my tongue has improved a lot, which is reflective of the improved WBC. My taste is not perfect, but it has improved. I still don't enjoy to drink water. I prefer club soda or other beverages. Ginger ale tastes good, but I realized that like soda, it's loaded with sugar which isn't great for my body nor my teeth. I can't floss nor brush like I would normally, so I must be more cautious with the types of foods that I ingest. The Biotene mouthwash or Listerine can help. Rather than use the oral swabs as I did in the hospital, I am using a soft tooth brush now. I have a tendacy to brush my teeth hard at times, so I just must take it easy and brush them gently. Low platelet numbers makes this a necessity. I remembered to ask Bita about reimmunization. She said that because I received my own stem cells, reimmunization wasn't an issue. All the vaccinations that I received in the past were still there. The issue of reimmunization, therefore, is a matter of discussion for those who receive stem cells from a donor.

I received my discharge papers and instructions from my nurse by the late morning. I was given a prescription for acyclovir and if necessary, prilosic (akin to prevacid) for acidity in the stomach. I, then, thanked Bita and Scott for all that they had done and I let Scott know that I thought he and the rest of the staff were absolutely awesome. Scott told me that I'm free to come up to the BMT unit and visit them while I'm in the hospital for my weekly visits at the clinic. We, then, were able to get someone to take two photographs of us in my room and I promised to send them copies once they were developed.

My dad showed up soon after. We packed up my belongings and items and after about 30 minutes, we were ready to leave the hospital for good. I called the taxi company and in about five minutes, the driver was at the entrance to the hospital waiting for us. I recall exiting my room and walking to the elevators, which is a short walk, and feeling winded. "Woah," I told myself as I realized that it had been the most that I had walked in over three weeks. It was 1:20 when we left the hospital finally. It was a bright sunny afternoon and it was surreal in a sense for me to look at Roosevelt Island and the East River from our moving taxi along the FDR Drive and not from my hospital window as I had been so accustomed to during the past three weeks. The traffic was very light, so we arrived home in no time - perhaps 20 minutes at most.

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