Suffice it to say the last 10 days have been difficult. The adrenaline wore off and the side effects kicked in, leaving Dan unable to talk, swallow, or even stay awake for very long. I guess everything just gets harder the longer it goes on. From a medical standpoint, everything Dan has presented has been expected. Every day we rattled off our gripes and described his pain and the doctor assured us that she expected all of these to happen so we find comfort every day in that word. As long as the doctor expected Dan to spike a fever of 101, stop eating, have headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, mouth sores, stomach pains, dry skin and extreme exhaustion I'm okay with it? I think I have to be. As awful as it is to see Dan this way, the team is treating him with compassion and troubleshooting a million ways to make this whole experience less awful.
I spend my days here rubbing Dan's back, filling his ice packs and trying to find comforting words of encouragement to get us both through it. Sure enough, we got through it - the worst of it anyway - and on day 11 Dan perked up a bit and began to get some relief all around. He sat up a little more, used his mouth suction a little less, gave his pain pump a break and was able to talk a tad. He's still got the low-grade fever, still fending off mucositis and a slew of other ailments, but we're catching more and more glimpses of our guy every day. I say "we" because my mom is in town! She flew in last Thursday and has been my doting caregiver (who knew I needed one?), cleaning our laundry, cooking us meals, buying us groceries and spending some quality down time with me at the apartment. We've explored campus, shared some wine, and we plan to head to Pike's Market tomorrow for some original Starbucks. We couldn't have known it when she booked her flight, but the timing is perfect and I couldn't be happier that she's here.
We got exciting news today that Dan is beginning to engraft, meaning white blood cells are showing up in his blood stream. He has 80 today and the magic number is 500, official engraftment. We expect talk of discharge to our Seattle home once Dan nears that magic number, can take his medications by mouth again, and eat enough to satisfy his nutrition. He is likely feeling better today because his brand new white blood cells are busy inside curing what ails him and doing what they're meant to. Yippee! Again, this is exactly as the doctors would expect things to happen and he is right on track. He is expected to feel better and grow stronger each day as his white blood cells develop and rid him of the misery from these last 2 weeks. I say it's about time.
My birthday was yesterday and we did some shopping, ordered Chinese, and opened cards at the hospital with Dan. As weird or different or sad or depressing this birthday was, it also served as a reminder that I am loved. Thank you to so many who reached out and sent cards, called, texted, facebooked (yes, that can be a verb), and prayed for me in a special way. I didn't expect to spend my 28th birthday in the hospital, but I see the little blessings that my mom could be here, I had more cards than ever to open, Dan started to feel better, and we're moving in the right direction. I look forward to spending my 29th birthday with healthy Dan and I expect this all to be behind us.
Onward and forward from here on out. The worst is behind us. The cells are coming in and Dan is doing just as expected. Let's find comfort in that word and continue to pray for ALL to be well.