Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Will You Marrow Me? - Day 0

Today was just....waiting. All day long...waiting.
We passed the time doing crafts, watching movies, walking a few laps.
Yeah, you don't care about any of that, do you!?

You want to know about the transplant.

SuperMensch gave a lot of cells. Which is amazing.
Donor Superpowers: Willingness to donate, and ability to give a lot of cells.
The very small downside of this (really, not a downside at all) is that it took all day to process the cells.
Do you hear me complaining? No way. This is a good problem to have.
We had hoped for sometime around 7pm, but by 7:30pm we heard from Dr. M that the processing was still going on. He looked practically giddy at the number of cells, so we knew it was a good thing. We had a short discussion about how many cells would actually go into Sam, and of course we all realized that since he was debating 15 million or 20 million....we should settle at 18 million.

Of course. 18....

(By the way, that's 18 million stem cells per kilo of Sam's weight. Don't try to think too hard about counting cells, it will hurt your brain.)

After that, we knew it was going to be a long night, so Sam settled down for some more body art:
You can actually still see my bruises...don't look too closely.
We waited and waited. 
Finally at about 9:00pm, we officially were told that 10:30pm was the time. So they started the pre-medications for the transplant. Essentially, it's a blood transfusion, so they give Benadryl and Tylenol in advance just to make sure that no one has any reactions. They don't take chances with this bag of riches. Also he received one last high dose of steroids. All of these things are part of the whole cocktail of anti-rejection meds he's been on for the last few days to prep his body.

A little after 10:30pm, the cells arrived.
Sam met them:
And said hello to them:
And then he was all hooked up. These cells don't go through a pump, it's simply a gravity flow into his body, directly into the line.

Then we offered a prayer.
After much consideration and adaptation of other prayers and words and thoughts, this is what we said (and with apologies to all those from whom I adapted these words -- I don't have my sources!)

This is the day that God has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118)

Wondrous God, Creator and Sustainer of Life,
We come before You, humbled by Your great gift of life. In Your infinite love You have planted within us tiny cells with the power to heal and renew. We are grateful for the miracles You have given us through medical research and the skill of our medical team and through the generosity of others and our donor in particular. Thank You for the potential and possibility of the miracle of this day. Grant Sam and all of us hope and patience as we await his restoration of body and spirit. Bless this day and every day with strength, courage, love and peace.

Blessed are You, our God, Ruler of the World, who has bestowed every goodness upon us.

Then I asked Sam if he wanted to say anything to the cells. Did he ever!

Here he is, in the photo below, chatting up his cells. He did that for quite a while. He welcomed them into his body and said he was going to give them a "nice family to live with." He told them, "I hope you like working with me," and he asked them to make themselves at home. Then he told them that once they are settled, they have to "go to war." (I gasped, I had no idea what he was talking about!) "Please go to war against the leukemia and when you win I will give you a big party and you can party until you're all partied out." I kid you not, he went on for quite some time talking...and then he held the line in front of his face and said the Shema to the cells. I nearly fell off the bed, I was so filled with amazement.
And then just like that, half an hour passed, it was over.
Cells in, vital signs checked over and over again to make sure he was alright.
His blood pressure went up a bit, which is very common and expected. A little medicine and he was down for the night:
Now we wait...for the cells to settle in and make little homes for themselves....more on how the engraftment process works and all that fun stuff when I'm more awake.

Today we felt an immense outpouring of love and prayer from the whole wide world. Thank you thank you thank you.

This is the day that God has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. 


  1. Keep talking to those cells telling them to do their thing and we will keep praying that they do. Sending peace and light from across the ocean.

  2. It is a courageous soul that looks at a medical bag of microscopic soldiers and tells them to prepare for war. This is one war that I welcome. May you find victory within your grasp, and share a joyous peace with all of us. All the best.

  3. My heart is full of amazement. Superman Sam is such a remarkable soul. I know those cells are lucky to be helping Sam fight the war!

  4. Amazing prayers...we are thinking of you!

  5. We live with the miracle of transplantation in our own lives, and wish you the same incredible, amazing miracle. There is not a day that goes by without my sending a silent thanks to our donor (and sometimes I even get to say it out loud -- because we know our donor!)...every time I pause to silently thank our donor, I will think of SuperMensch, too. Sam's appreciation of his incredible gift is awesomely moving. Take good care, and know we are holding you in our thoughts.

  6. Wiping away the tears of joy over this momentous occasion and how Superman Sam handled it. What an incredible neshama.

  7. an amazing neshama indeed. i totes want to party with his cells.

    and your prayer is beautiful.

    love and strength to you all.

  8. All of us at Oak Terrace continue to think of you often and hope for the very best!!

  9. I had tears of joy reading about how Sam recited the Shema to the SuperMensch cells. Sending every ounce of positive energy I have towards Superman Sam!

  10. Totally. Speechless.
    Just Amen and Amen.
    And thank you - for starting my day with such beauty.

    Keeping the prayers coming...

  11. This post has made me weep with gratitude and joy. First at the prayer which you shared -- and then at Sam's words to his new cells.

    God bless your super donor. God bless your super son.

  12. I've been following your journey for a while and keeping you, Sam and the entire family in my thoughts. This is a huge step, and I'm hopeful that everything goes exactly as it should. Sending you lots of *****good vibes*****

  13. Dear Phyllis and Michael, All your posts are so generous, keeping us up on Sammy's journey, but the last two outdid them all. They made my heart soar and made me cry at the same time. Thank you, Thank you. Sammy's words were awe-inspiring. Phyllis, you said you looked at him in amazement. Yes, amazement, awe. May he be blessed. May all go well.

  14. I've been following your journey for awhile - we have many mutual facebook friends (including my mother). I am davening that the Sam gets to hold that party soon!

  15. Sam, I wanted to write you as Laura Griffith shared your story. Tonight I am in DC celebrating a dear friends coming home party. He had a bone marrow transplant 78 days ago. I hope you have a similar party 78 days from now!

  16. What.a.kid.
    and What. amazing.parents.

    Might be the first time the Shema was recited directly to stem cells before they were dripped in?

    May they bring about a refuah shlayma!

  17. Happy 2nd/BMT Birthday! 8/27, a day to celebrate! 8/27 a day that will always be remembered! Every year this day will become an even greater milestone! Praying for the rest of the BMT process to go the best it can go and for your forever cure!

  18. Sam,
    You teach us my things: the power of gratitude and communication. You are teaching us necessity of conversing with even the cells of our Body and you are showing us the necessity of the attitude of gratitude for experiencing healing. I wish you all the best. May the Lord help you guide you into the miraculous experience of healing. May the Lord pour into your heart his abundant love that created you and that will recreate you as more healthy and whole.
    F. Jose

  19. I'm visiting from my friend Jill Zimmerman's posts about your beautiful boy. I pray that all is still going well and that your Sam is healing more and more each day.