Wednesday, October 29, 2008

UCLA Consultation - Been There Done That

Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land. Proverbs 25:25

Yesterday morning I woke up at 5:15 a.m. and headed to UCLA at 6:30 a.m. arriving a half hour early at 9 a.m. (You might not care about that detail, but I do for the next time I take the journey and need to remember what time I should leave!)

UCLA Medical Center is state-of-the-art...gorgeous buildings on the outside and I'm sure the operating rooms and maybe even the hospital rooms are awesome. I would think if you have the best doctors and latest technology in care that it would trickle down to excellence in the office too, but I guess not. From dirty restrooms and glorified hospital food at the on-site restaurant to a DMV style-office and janitorial closet-sized exam rooms, one might be wondering when the state-of-the-art stuff is going to show up.

Well, he did and his name is Dr. Gary Schiller. I also was able to meet Dr. Mickey Liao, a Fellow that you would NEVER guess was a "Mickey!" Both were very nice and Dr. Schiller is an international expert in leukemia which is a bonus. He explained that we'll be doing a cord blood donation in my case. Well that is what he hopes for anyway. We'll be looking for a match in both banks, the cord blood and the bone marrow registry and see what happens first. Usually cord blood is easier because it's "off the shelf" meaning when you find a match the bone marrow transplant can go right away, but if it's a human donor you have to wait many weeks while they get verified, tested, work with their schedule, etc. etc.

The risk for graft-vs.-host disease is lower with cord blood, but the risk for infection is higher because it takes longer for the body to replenish cells with the cord blood donations. You will be praying for me on that!

The other news was that I'll be staying at UCLA for a good 6 weeks, going home earlier if I am doing well. The first 4 weeks is in the hospital, while the last 2 weeks is nearby at the guest house (which is a subsidized hotel room the hospital contracts at nearby hotels). I might not be 100% clear on this because they don't tell us everything until we need to know. It's unclear right now whether my whole family can come and stay at the guest house which I think is available for them while I'm in the hospital. We'll see.

So we'll know in 10 days to 2 weeks whether there is a cord blood match for me. And if so, I'm on my way to UCLA flying through the doors yelling like Linguini in the movie Ratatouille when he says, "Let's DO this thing!" Unfortunately, I might miss Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, but 2009 looks awesome.

What made this trip most special was visiting with friends in Torrance afterwards. We used to live there and it's always like time has passed when we get together with the Newharts and the Dahls. Those of you who couldn't get together this time, we hope to see you another time!

While we were visiting the hospital called and they had drawn the wrong tube for the matching process to begin. So it's a good thing I hadn't gone home yet! I spent the night at the Dahl's and went back in the morning to redraw. My blood count was normal again with platelets a whopping 310,000! So that was good news to me. Three years ago, I remember once I went home, I'd be home 1 week, then have to go into the hospital for 1 week for transfusions.

So I'm very thankful for all of this good news. The road ahead will be very difficult, but friends and family like you make it so much easier! Thank you for your meals, visits, notes and cards, presents, pictures for my board, cleaning help, childcare help, hospitality, and especially prayers. We couldn't do this without you!
P.S. Happy Birthday to Trevor, my youngest who turned 7 today!

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