It’s been three weeks since I entered the hospital and two weeks since the transplant. Almost as if in recognition of the milestone, the doctors and nurses delivered some fabulous news today. Neither spinning nor toiling, those stem cells seem to have set up residence and are growing blood cells! The doctor is not the type who would dance the jig with me, but that's what I felt like doing when she delivered the news. Instead, we both just smiled heartfelt smiles at each other.
The doctors watch two counts in particular, leukocytes and neutrophils absolute. Leukocytes make up the class of all white blood cells; and neutrophils are a particular kind of white blood cell that goes after bacteria and fungus. If you look at the Wikipedia page for white blood cells (click here), you can see a cool picture of a neutrophil engulfing Anthrax bacteria. Neutrophils constitute 60 - 70 percent of all leukocytes. When your finger gets infected and pus forms, the pus is dead neutrophils. The leukocytes started climbing yesterday and the neutrophils today. I’ve received transfusions of red cells and platelets, but not of white cells. So, the best explanation seems to be that the immune system is re-growing. The doctor expects this to be a trend. And even mentioned that I might be out of the hospital some time week!
Fear of the graph not taking hold was my biggest anxiety after the transplant, even though the odds were good that it would. So, this comes as a huge relief. I’m not quite ready to celebrate though because I suppose it could be a measurement error, or the process might halt. But there was no mention of either of those possibilities. So, they must be remote.
In expectation that my immune system will be stronger by next week, I was also moved today to a double room, which I have to myself now, but will share next Monday and perhaps beyond. It was strange leaving the other room. I won’t say that I had become attached to it. But it was all that I knew for three weeks, and significant events had occurred there. Still, even walking down the hall with my gown and face mask on to the new room felt like a taste of freedom. Next stop, I hope, will be that window were I can smell the fresh air.