Again I made a promise to write, this time it was when God gave me strength and the words. I have now been in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit for 27 days. 8 days pre transplant, transplant (stem cell infusion as illustrated in picture above. Stem cells are orange ish in colour, recipient is in blue) on 6th December 2014 and 18 days post-transplant. Much as 6th December is considered the transplant day bone marrow transplant is a process rather than a procedure. The bone marrow transplant process is much longer than that. As this is not my main reason for this post I highly recommend you Google the process or hit on this link: Bone marrow transplant – How it is performed that I thought gave a good summary of how a transplant is performed.
I thank God the stem cell infusion went well. It took about 40 minutes. The last 10 days have been especially tough. I started getting infections a few days after the stem cell infusion due to the almost non-existent immune system. For the last 2 weeks my White Blood Cell Count has basically been 0. This is expected because I was given a chemo post-transplant to ensure that my marrow is completely destroyed along with any cancerous cells. The infections came with the usual high fever, chills and other chemo related side effects. The Memo I was left out on or probably wasn’t adequately briefed on is the one titled; Pain.
“Pain is your friend” is a quote I’ve heard a few times. If someone has quoted that to you, he’s the kind of friend you need to lose, preferably even before trying to get rid of the pain. The infections brought on pain in various parts of my body. Some of the most severe were migraines, jaw pain and bone pain. At the beginning, as is the norm they start you off on the pain starter kit of perfalgan and trambax. But in a few hours you realize that sadly all these drugs are doing is skirting around the pain like a bunch of unbalanced Can-can dancers. Then they bring in the morphine, which had at one time back in Kenya been able to contain the pain. Not this time, even when continuously infused at a safe dose over hours. I was getting all the bad effects without the effect I needed the most; pain relief. Finally, I got introduced to a drug called Fentanyl which eased my pain when infused continuously.
As I write, I continue to experience bouts of pain. It is by God’s grace that I face each day because without Him I know I am not strong enough. Usually, I wait until I am out of hospital to talk about the happenings especially where pain is related. But I felt led to share even in my current condition because it links closely to my main purpose of this post.
Is it worth it?
Often I have wondered whether it is worth it going through all this, especially the pain. In the last few days despite my pain it has gotten clearer. Earlier this year a friend who had fought cancer recommended a book by John Piper: Don’t Waste Your Cancer. In the book, the author the gives several ways in which one can waste their cancer experience. One of them is:
“We waste our cancer if we fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.”
I was created to worship and glorify God. Romans 12:1 talks about offering my body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is my true and proper worship. I am not always in a position to choose the when, where and the how of worshiping God. So by submitting to the Recipient of the sacrifice I trust that, through the Holy Spirit, I will endeavour to worship Him through every situation and circumstance. I find comfort in that verse because when I think about His greatness; His mercy and compassion and His love for me it would be such a daunting task to try and worship Him in the way that He deserves. It also reminds me that I can never over glorify or over worship God.
To answer the question of whether it is worth it to go through this painful experience: If by this pain I have been a witness to the truth and glory of Christ; if by this pain I have strengthened and encouraged a believer; If by this pain I might have pointed someone to Jesus and caused them to desire a personal relationship with Him, Yes, it is worth it. My body will probably disagree, and it is expected, but I choose to side with my spirit and soul, which vehemently affirm.
- It has been 18 days since the transplant and my sister’s (Sara) stem cells, which were transfused into my body, are yet to engraft. Doctors admitted it is cause for concern. Pray for engraftment. Pray for a miracle.
- Pray against infections and pain.
- Pray for strength for me and my family as we go through this tough journey.
- Pray for God’s provision to meet the escalating medical costs.
- Spending Christmas in hospital made me realize that every year many people spend this season in hospital or at home fighting one sickness or the other. Let us not tire of praying for them.