I must say the visit with Dr. Uberti was a reality check. I had been looking forward to the stem cell transplant and eager to get on with it so I could resume my normal life. I've been feeling stronger and less of a patient every day, so why not get back to work?
As it turns out, I'd better be thinking of my next step as the transplant, not my next project at work. It is a much more grueling process than I wanted to visualize, although I'm not surprised to hear it. There are lots of variables in recovery depending on how my sister Genie's stem cells react to my body. In the worst case scenario there can be an untreatable reaction and in the best case, there can be no reaction. Although we have a "perfect" match, that is only within the 8 major HLA antigens (I believe that's correct) that are checked. There are dozens of other antigens which aren't checked that may be important.
At a minimum, I can expect to be hospitalized for a month, then followed in the BMT (bone marrow transplant) clinic 2 to 3 times per week for for 3 months. Both the MDs on my Beaumont team and my new MDs on the Karmanos transplant team accelerated the timeline to my transplant to as soon as possible due to the final part of my last bone marrow analysis. My cells look entirely normal but their DNA is not, so my remission will be short lived. The transplant is needed to deal with it, and as soon as possible. I'd been looking forward to a longer vacation from all that.
OK, let's get on with it then!
PS: the charges from my induction hospitalization totalled $350,000, of which $175,000 were pharmacy charges. How does that relate to the Health Care reform debate? I leave that to you. I'm sure all the charges (what insurance will pay is another matter) from the transplant will be at least that much. Am I worth it?