The Bone Daddy Diaries: Donation Day
The deed is done.
Hey, everyone! Today was the big day.
Woke up bright and early at 6AM and watched the sun rise over the Astrodome while I got ready for my day. Had some hotel room coffee and played NPR while I showered and moisturized.
It's 2020. You better be moisturizing. We know better by now.
Packed up my room and went next door for the donation. Wish I could have had breakfast before my arrival, but the operating hours of everything are out of wack due to the pandemic. A few places that used to open at five or six, now open at seven. I had to be there at seven, so no pre-show breakfast for me.
Thankfully, the staff ordered tacos from Pappas and all was well.
The process began immediately. I was given one more round of filgrastim (which the attendee administered, not myself - whew!), then got situated in my chair which became my home for the day. In my right wrist, one tube feeding my blood back into me. In my left inner elbow, the needle that drew the blood out to be filtered.
Because I'm a masochist, I brought my laptop with me to get some work done. To me, it didn't seem like a big deal - I don't need to take PTO, I can just do my job and write while I'm sitting all day. What I didn't realize was that I could not move my left arm for the duration of the process. The right arm was free, but not the left.
Pan to me, typing with one hand while chatting on Zoom with my coworkers for various meetings throughout the day. Fun!
On the bright side, I did get to show my coworkers the "bone juice" that was being filtered out of me. That's the term I affectionately coined on the spot, which the attendee thought was hilarious.
The filtering of my stem cells (aforementioned "bone juice") out of my blood took a large portion of my day. The chair was comfortable and the attendees were lovely - it was an all-around pleasant experience.
Once, my left arm just decided to stop giving blood. To fix this, the attendee had to come over and, without being able to re-stick the needle, tugged on my arm a little to reposition the needle from the inside. Not gonna lie, that scared me. Just a little bit! Felt weird! Bear in mind, should you donate bone marrow and this happens, it's totally normal and it isn't going to kill you or maim your veins. It's okay.
I need to take a quick break from the serious donor/science talk to reveal a little bit of personality again (you know, to keep you guessing).
The filtered stem cells end up in a little opaque baggy so they can be delivered to the patient. It looks a little like... tomato soup? Not blood-colored. I said to a friend that this bone juice would make an excellent caldo de Barrett, but clearly the patient will not be using them for this purpose.
This topic of using my juice in caldo in place of chicken or beef bone stock did produce some interesting conversations with friends, notably: "You're a caldo machine!" and "We could plug you in behind the bar next to the margarita machine. It takes like eight hours for you to make a bowl, but it's fresh!"
Anyone else? No? Okay, I guess that's just me and my weird-ass circle.
Stepping back into reality, I'll finish this off by reminding everyone that a few days of discomfort is worth the opportunity to potentially prolong someone's life. None of the discomfort I felt (and documented for you in this series) was exorbitant. I feel mostly fine; more than anything else, I'm tired. My hips will be back to normal in a few days and someone, somewhere, may live a little longer for it.
Thank you for following along. Please share and spread the word about how bone marrow donation works, what to expect, and how it can change lives.
Oh, and as the process finished, my attendee asked happily, "Would you like a photo with your bone juice?"
Thank you; and yes, I would.
To recap the side effects for Donation Day:
Lethargy, more so than the previous days
Sustained discomfort in the hips
Sustained discomfort in the lower back
Day One: ✓
Day Two: ✓
Day Three: ✓
Day Four: ✓
Donation Day: ✓
If you are interested in signing up to become a bone marrow donor yourself, please visit BeTheMatch.org.