The hospital room smells sterile and the hum from machinery remains constant at a low level. White boxes with labels I can’t read and large machines which remind me of 2” Ampex reel to reel tape machines are settled in between the two beds. Tubes, clear bags and monitors remain in the field of vision no matter which direction I turn my head. There is a window, but the curtains are drawn due to the heat and blinding early morning sunlight.
For fifty years I have had time to imagine what I would be doing on my fiftieth birthday. In all the scenarios the scene pictured above was never considered. But here I am. With my wife Allison in the bed beside my chair. Blood has been drawn and we now have a two hour wait to find out if her stem cells have “burst” out of her bone marrow and into her blood stream. If this is the case, we then hook up to a dialysis type machine and for 6 hours or so her blood will be removed from her body, the stem cells would be collected and then blood sent back through the other arm once again. We are hopeful that the news in a few hours is positive and that we do not need to repeat this process again tomorrow. It would be a great birthday gift to have this go smoothly today.
Two hours later we are back at our apartment. Allison’s white blood cell count is still non existent so there is no way for them to harvest today. I thought it wise to lay my head down for a pre-noon nap, seeing as I had only five hours sleep and was pretty groggy. Within moments of dozing off I was startled awake by the building fire alarm. I got some clothes back on Allison. Shoes and a sweater not cooperating at all is I fumbled through the process.
Once Allison was comfortably settled into her wheelchair we headed into the hallway of the 12th floor. Around the corner stood two middle aged ladies discussing why the elevator was not working.
I couldn't stop to take a selfie but this artist rendering pretty much nails it!!!
And then it hit me. Allison can’t walk and we are on the 12th floor. No panic. I wheeled her chair to the door to the stairs and got her on my back. It was not as tough as I had briefly imagined. I guess gravity does a lot of the work, all I had to do was put one foot in front of the other. Not too good for her health, but I appreciated all the weight she has recently lost. When we got to the ground floor I had worked up a nice layer of sweat. One of the staff brought us a few bottles of water and we waited the ordeal out. The firemen cleared the building but the elevators took a few hours to reset. There was no way I could carry her up 12 flights so we hunkered down for the afternoon in a room on the second floor.
Let’s see what tomorrow brings eh?
We are still positive and we are still eating healthy. Allison hair was becoming a bit unmanageable so I took the scissors to it for ease of getting in and out of a ponytail. Next week she has an appointment to have her head shaved - why bother waiting.