There are many milestones that an HSCT patient will reach during their stay in Moscow, or any other facility for that matter. But, one of the more prominent in my mind, and maybe it’s because I’m a woman, is the loss of hair due to chemo. That’s right, there’s no avoiding it. Nobody gets a check out free card that will save themselves from certain hair loss due to the four days of high-dose chemo that’s administered prior to transplantation. If you don’t receive chemo, you don’t kill the T-cells where the MS resides. No chemo, no curative effect. If you haven’t figured it out by now, the chemo is the real hero in this entire process. Without it, the transplantation would be moot.
So, you have your four, kick-ass days of chemo, you rest a day (there has to be a 24-hour period without it before transplantation), you have your transplant, then you wait, while in isolation, for the “cumulative effects” of the chemo that Dr. Fedorenko warned you about. The ones that I didn’t suffer from at all, until after I engrafted and came out of isolation two days ago. The ones that keep me from being able to keep my eyes open, yet, when I close them, I can only sleep peacefully for two-ish hours at a time. Not to mention the dizziness, overall weakness and worsening of MS symptoms…DON’T WORRY!! IT’S ALL TEMPORARY. 3-6 months TEMPORARY! That sounds like an awfully long temporary for this impatient puppy. But, I’ve waited 13 years to rid myself of this monster, I suppose I’d look pretty lame if I couldn’t suck it up for another few months or so. You can bring me my straw and that tall glass of “suck it up” and I’ll get right on it.
LET’S GET BACK TO THE HAIR!!!
5 days post chemo, I hadn’t lost one shred of hair. Three days ago, I went into the bathroom, thought I’d give a little tug to some strands and within 20 minutes and with no resistance, all of the hair on my head, except for a baby fine layer of blonde had filled the entire sink. I looked at it in horror…and amusement. You see, MS has taken a lot from me over the last 13 years. Too many things to count, and if I did, it could send me reeling over the edge. My hair, was the last thing it will take from me. HERE, MS! COME AND GET IT! YIPPY KI-AY, MOFO! I warned you I swear like a trucker. But, this little slip of the tongue feels DAMN GOOD. You killed my hair, and I killed you. Sounds fair enough to me!
So, what’s a girl to do? I end up looking like death warmed over and the doc suggests that I wait a couple of days until my platelets come up to shave my head. He said it will fall out, anyway…No it didn’t. Yesterday, he gave me permission to shave it, and last evening, one of the sweet nurses came in and did it for me. Although I was initially psyched to have it done, I was getting a little worried that I might start tearing up or something. HELL, NO! I took one look, pumped my fists in the air and proclaimed “I’m free! I’m free!” It was a good moment (pics below).
MY NUMBERS ARE IN!
Leukocytes – 31 Platelets – 73 Hemoglobin – 112
SIDENOTE: TODAY IS MY HUSBAND’S 45TH BIRTHDAY! This year, I’m giving him his wife back…MS free. Not exactly sure how I’m going to top that next year. 🙂 Happy Memorial Day to all of my U.S. peeps!!