Harvest Day

August 13th, 2015

Today is the day of the harvest. I need to get labs drawn, a central line placed (a catheter in the jugular vein), harvest the cells for 4-6 hours, wait for 2 hours for them to count them (I need 2 million), and then they will either take out the central line or send me to the hotel with it. I might have to go back to Northwestern tomorrow.

For the central line, the nurse asks me to look left, and he preps an area on my right neck by cleaning it and lining it with pads. A Fellow—I’m pretty sure he’s only 12—starts placing it, explaining as he goes. Then there is moment of strange silence, some hustling, and hurried, rough wiping.

“It’s because she’s skinny,” the Fellow says.

I watch the X-ray of my chest as the thin worm of the catheter grows out of it. It reminds me of the sea eels that we saw at the aquarium.

Here is a picture of a sea eel.


Adorable, right?

On my way out the door, a nurse is throwing away a big pile of bloodied bandages. That looks like too much blood, but who cares? Someone called me skinny.

Next I sit in a chair for 5.5 hours with blood circulating out of me, into a machine, and back to me. I was worried about being in a chair for that long because I would have to pee, but the bedpan is easy to use. She just sticks it on a chair. Who knew? I don’t know why I imagined that she would put it on the floor.

At the end of the day, a man in a green lab coat gets the cells, and I ask the nurse if he is trustworthy. I’ve been through a lot to get these cells, and something about the green coat makes me wonder if he moonlights as a leprechaun.* The nurse laughs. We wait for two more hours while they count.

The number is in: I gave them 9.6 million. Boom.

I fish for a compliment from the nurse and say, “Is it the really fit people who give you such high numbers of cells?”

She’s a nurse, so she sees right through me. She says no, it just depends. When she leaves, Chris says that I am superior at making stem cells. I love that man.

On the way home, I ask the cabbie to stop so I can throw up. When he doesn’t stop, I just open the door and start to lean out. He stops, and I throw up in someone’s begonias.

It’s been a long day. But now I’m done, and I can go home. We’ll be home at around midnight tomorrow.

*Chris wants you to know that he was too tall to be a leprechaun. He was 6 foot 3 inches.

21 Responses to “Harvest Day”

  1. Laura Lee Pearson on August 13, 2015 9:23 pm

    I wait for these chunks of writing like an addict waiting for the next fix. Memoir, for sure…you must write…an entire memoir.

    Lovin’ the 9.6 million!!! One and done.


  2. Heathapatti on August 13, 2015 9:26 pm

    9.6 million! Bam!! Yeay, now you can go home and hug those kiddos tight. Love you. Hi five to Chris.

  3. Cheri on August 13, 2015 9:52 pm

    What you can look forward to is the day they take bone marrow and you will have the most peaceful and restful sleep! Anesthesia is a wonderful thing.

    We wish those cells a pleasant and boisterous journey so when they return to the veins of your soul they are prepared to arrest and attack MS.

    Sending POWER!

  4. David Kwee on August 13, 2015 10:10 pm

    You, ma’am, are full of pluripotency!

    Well, not as full as you were yesterday.

    Strong work. Keep at it.

  5. Anita on August 13, 2015 10:22 pm

    I’m also an addict. Keep these sweet chunks coming. Congrats for getting through the procedure. You are not only skinny, you are brave and strong.

  6. Skinny on August 13, 2015 10:41 pm

    Don’t much like begonias. Nice job.

  7. Beki on August 13, 2015 10:49 pm

    9.6 million? You’re just showing off!! Love to you and the family. XOXO

  8. Laura Staman on August 13, 2015 11:02 pm

    Hot Dog! I am psyched for you! Love, Laura PS: LOL on this blog many times. Hope you get to feeling better too.

  9. Dad on August 14, 2015 6:08 am

    Congrats. First hurdles traversed. Proud of you. See you in a few weeks.

    Keep chargin’.

    — Dad

  10. Jenny on August 14, 2015 6:09 am

    Superior cell harvesting. Good for you!

  11. Wons on August 14, 2015 8:41 am

    Nice work!

  12. Suzanne Brooks on August 14, 2015 9:50 am

    You are, by far, one of the most entertaining writers I’ve ever read! You are, by far, one of the bravest folks I’ve ever known. Hang in there! Raleigh will be happy when you are home. My family will be praying for you!!

  13. Nathan on August 14, 2015 11:30 am

    Way to go! (Except maybe the whole begonias thing, but I guess that is still better than many other locations.) By the way, he could have been a Texas leprechaun. They may be diminutive and magical over in Ireland, but I hear they grow quite large in the States. If you ever see him again grab his arm and tell him that you will let him keep his pot o’ gold if he will grant you your three wishes. Then make those wishes count!

  14. Colleen on August 14, 2015 1:39 pm

    You rock! So happy all is going so well!

  15. Mom on August 14, 2015 5:12 pm

    Fabulous, Karen. Got tears in my eyes . . . AGAIN! Beautiful.

  16. Karen Staman on August 14, 2015 6:03 pm

    You’re a pretty easy mark.

  17. Pat on August 14, 2015 11:26 pm

    Yay, 9.6 mill!

  18. Laurie J. Edwards on August 15, 2015 6:16 pm

    You’re amazing!! So glad you could go home right away. Hugs for the weekend!!

  19. Nina Kilbride on August 15, 2015 7:22 pm

    I miss you, you skinny stem-cell making machine. Come home safe and sound soon. :)

  20. Shelley J on August 15, 2015 8:09 pm

    You have a graceling–stem cell production! That is awesome. Good luck and safe travels!

  21. Melanie Moran on August 17, 2015 12:30 pm

    Well done Karen!!!!

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