We’re fully engrafted and movin’ on up!
As a reminder, engraftment is when the stem cells you received on transplant day start to grow and make healthy blood cells. It’s a very important milestone in your transplant recovery, and really when you start to feel better and feel like all of this was worth it.
The real transitional period of your transplant begins with the atomic bomb of chemo, which runs through your body essentially killing everything in sight. 48 hours after this chemo infusion, the cells they collected, cleaned and stored are returned to your body (the actual “transplant”) and you get a bit of a bump in how you feel because they pump you full of steroids during the cell infusion/transplant. That bump lasts a few days and then you begin to bottom out and the side effects of that big chemo bomb really take hold. Your numbers start ticking down, down, down, eventually bottoming out at zero. That happened for Corey on “Day +9”, which is right about average. Once your counts zero out/bottom out, they stay there for a few days while the transplanted stem cells take root and begin to grow and repopulate (or engraft). This is the period when you feel the worst and the side effects are pretty ugly, severe and constant (and when most patients end up being admitted). The fever that landed Corey in the hospital last week is totally normal because your body, with its very limited resources to fight any kind of infection, treats those transplanted cells as foreign agents and tries to fight them off. Luckily your body can’t fight very hard and those good cells override the fighting cells to take root and begin rebuilding healthy blood and bone marrow. Once you’re engrafted, your numbers start ticking up, up, up and the transitional period of the transplant is complete, moving you into post-transplant recovery.
That’s where we are now, we’re post-transplant “Day +15.” Corey is engrafted and beginning to feel better and like all this really was worth it.
When you’re admitted with a neutropenic fever (meaning your white blood cell count is below 500), they won’t release you until your neutrophils are back above 500. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell. There are 5 different types of white blood cells in our bodies, and neutrophils account for about 60% of the makeup of your white blood cells. Corey was admitted last Wednesday with ZERO neutrophils and ZERO white blood cells. He started to register a white blood cell count on Saturday (from the other types of cells that make up your white blood cells) but no neutrophils. Then on Sunday he registered .06 neutrophils and .47 white blood cells, meaning he was engrafted and things were taking hold.
That’s one. small. step. for. man…
And. one. giant. leap… for a post-transplant patient!
When he was first admitted last week, Corey was at the lowest part of this process and was feeling pretty terrible. Now that his neutrophils and white blood cells are coming in, he’s beginning to feel a lot better. Once your counts start going up, they go up pretty quickly so we’re hoping for discharge from the hospital in the next day or two. As of this morning his neutrophils are at .26 and his white blood cell count is at 1.44 (for you number lovers or medical types). We’re praying they double today and that he’s at .50 neutrophils when they draw his labs tonight at midnight because he’s going stir crazy and is ready to bust outta there. We know he’s right where he needs to be and that his being admitted this past week was the right move, but now that his numbers are trending up, I’m afraid that when I arrive tomorrow morning, I might arrive to him running out the door, IV lines flapping behind him, yelling “Go! GO! GOOO!” when I slow down at the curb…
What’s the penalty for breaking a patient out of the hospital?!?!
Anyway, because Corey was admitted and receiving ’round-the-clock care, I took advantage of the break and came home to spend a few days with the kids. We visited Corey over the weekend and you could see the visible lift in his spirits from the time we arrived to the time we left. Kid cuddles can, for sure, cure what ails you. His numbers doubled within the next 24 hours.
We’re praying this hospitalization won’t set us back and that his numbers keep going up, up, up, and we’re back home by Dec. 1 (the original timeframe if there were no setbacks). We know Corey is exactly where he needs to be and that he is receiving world-class care, but we’re anxious to be together again, walking through our own neighborhood and surrounded by the people we love.
I’m reading through the book of Joshua right now and I read something with fresh eyes yesterday. This is the story of the children of Israel finally crossing over the Jordan River and out of a 40-year trek through the desert. It’s the story of God leading His people into the “Promised Land” after a pretty rough patch (to put it mildly). Once the children of Israel crossed over the Jordan, their first battle was at the city of Jericho (where they marched around it and the walls came down). From there, they had a lot of fighting and ground-taking to do before there was rest and victory. There were years of hard-fought battles, but eventually victory came.
For whatever reason(s) I had at the time, every reference to the Lord fighting on behalf of His people had been underlined in my bible from previous readings. Phrases like:
“I have given them into your hand…”
“the Lord gave…”
“because the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for them…”
account for a lot of this story. But there are also a lot of phrases that say that Joshua:
“did just as the Lord commanded…”
“left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded…”
There’s nothing we can do to speed up this process. There’s nothing we can do to make Corey’s neutrophils populate faster. We can, however, control how we handle each and every battle we face along the way. We can control whether we’re being obedient to the what and the who and the where the Lord is leading us and whether we are “leaving nothing undone” of all the Lord is asking of us during this time. We have a lot of ground to take in this process yet. Our lives will forever be changed by this diagnosis and this journey. But what an incredible opportunity to cross over a metaphorical Jordan River in our lives and take hold of all the Lord has promised for our family. Maybe Israel and the Jordan River should be the first stop on that post-transplant world tour I wrote about a while back…
Whether we ever get there in real life or only symbolically, I pray this post-transplant life is full of all the promise our little family can possibly contain. So here’s to “movin’ on up” to the post-transplant life and whatever this phase of our journey holds!
20 thoughts on “Movin’ On Up!”
Wow… so much has happened within the past couple of weeks! I hope Corey is being a good boy 😁
I am always thinking of him & look forward to your updates Mindy!
I hope & pray this next phase goes smoothly & everything stays right on track! Thanks again Mindy for putting so much of your time in keeping us all informed!
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Thanks, Carol! I know he can’t wait to be back in the office and all the regional gatherings. 🙂
Corey, we are so proud of your strength and courage in the face of this horrible battle. Keep up your strong fight and know that so many are praying for you and your lovely family who are supporting you through this.
We love you and pray for your recovery and return to thriving.
Margo and Dave Deeds
Thanks for the update! Oh it’s so hard to be patient when you’re right in the middle of a trial. But look back and see how far you’ve come already!
What a special promise and comforting words! Praying right now!
Psalms 121:7-8 The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
The Lord promises these very words to you by the free gift of faith! Continuing to pray for you!
Revelation 7:16-17 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Lifting you up in prayer!
Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Words of great comfort. Know that I’m praying!
Psalms 57:1 Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.
The Lord will always be with you and get you through whatever you have to face. Praying!
Psalms 18:1-3a I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised…
No matter what each day brings, good or bad, turn to the Lord. He’s always right there with you! And know that I’m right here praying!
Psalms 18:6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
Trust in the Lord for all things! He is your strength! Praying right now!
Psalms 18:30-32 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God? It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
God’s holding you up with His right hand! What amazing words of comfort! Always here praying!
Psalms 18:35-36 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great. Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.
There is only One who can hear and help in time of need. Praying to Him right now!
Psalms 28:1-2 Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.
Hope you had a good Thanksgiving!
Hold tight to these amazing promises. The Lord is with you! Praying!
Psalms 28:6-7 Blessed be the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.
These are such amazing words of comfort. He is our Father! Praying to Him right now!
Romans 8:14-15 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
It’s comforting to know that when I can’t find the words to pray that the Holy Spirit Himself is praying for you!
Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Especially during the times when He seems the farthest away, He IS there working! Know that I’m here praying!
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
The Lord promises to be with you no matter what you’re going through. Here praying right now!
Romans 8:35, 37 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
His Arms are always wrapped tight around you. He’ll never let go! Praying!!!!!
Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Lord hears and answers in His own way and in His own time. Here lifting up prayer!
Psalms 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
The Lord is always with you! Am here praying!
Psalms 40:2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
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