welcome to my new bone marrow!

I won’t lie: getting a bone marrow transplant was grueling. I’m not sure if it’s more or less grueling than an organ transplant and the procedure to get new bone marrow is not what you think. One does not actually extract marrow from each bone and replace it with new marrow. You’re given more chemotherapy in the hospital to purposely kill your white blood cells and then you get stem cells (I was able to donate my own) injected into a port implanted in your body. The actual “transplant” takes about 30 minutes and the telltale sign is the signature garlic smell that emanates from the preservatives stored in the stem cell bag. After that you suffer mightily until the new cells miraculously find their way inside your bones and engraft, creating new marrow and hopefully no more lymphoma!!!

Although I mostly felt terrible in the hospital, I let my 24 year old son take pictures. He’s become quite a good photographer in his own right. This one gives you an idea of the struggle.

dana bone marrow 2019 copy.JPG

That’s about all the science and misery I’ll impart to you. Needless to say, it’s been over three months since I was discharged after three weeks in the hospital and I’m in remission! I’ve got a 40% chance of recurrence of lymphoma, but if I can get a clear scan in September, my doctor will very generously lower the recurrence percentage to maybe 10%…. Hooray!

In the meantime, I’m feeling better every day and just catching up on the things I wasn’t able to do when I was discharged like… go to a Dodger Game! go to the dentist! eat sushi! get a facial! go to physical therapy! update my blog!

Not all the once forbidden activities are so exciting, but I’m happy to report that generally I’m in good health! Two more forbidden activities await lifting: direct sun exposure and going in the ocean. I’ve promised my husband five times I won’t complain about the ocean ban but it’s only the beginning of summer, so we’ll see!

I recently completed a six week online Journalism course through UMASS Amherst and plan on getting my certificate. It was challenging but it was the perfect way to fire up my brain cells. It’s been awhile since I’ve written papers and read textbooks but the computer makes it so much easier, and fun! For those of you old enough to remember using a typewriter in college, you know what I mean. I experimented with getting the required reading as digital downloads and thought it was convenient and less expensive. No need to use a highlighter pen and have a dictionary! You can highlight with your finger and look up any words you want. And how wonderful that we could access the latest articles just on the Internet. No more cutting out newspapers for current events to bring to class. I also studied a lot in the Pasadena Central Library. It’s such a spectacular landmark and it was clean, quiet and close to my house.

I’ve also been working with my cameras in the backyard using my big zoom lens to capture birds and the macro close up lens to capture flowers.

The challenge is always getting perfect focus and finding a deeper meaning in the images. The red whiskered bulbul is on alert for intruders and the rosebud feels tight and constricted, ready to burst open. These are some of the metaphors in my life right now. I think a lot about where I’ll be in six months, but I can only take life day by day.

I’ll write again soon so in the meantime, happy summer. Enjoy your family and friends. Go find some sun and ocean and save it up for me!

5.2.19 rose 5.jpg