Kelly the Culinarian: 7 Secrets I Wish I Knew Before my Bone Marrow Donation

Friday, April 15, 2016

7 Secrets I Wish I Knew Before my Bone Marrow Donation

It's been 37 days since I donated bone marrow. As of today, the recipient has my DNA and blood type. It worked. My "young and aggressive" immune system is destroying cancer at this very moment.

As for me, I'm all healed up and have very little in the way of scars to remind me. I've since ran a marathon and started training for Ironman Wisconsin, so I would say it hasn't slowed me down significantly.

Since talking about my procedure, I've gotten a lot of questions via Twitter and e-mail, all of which I'm happy to discuss at length. It's my hope that in sharing my experience, it will prompt more people to sign up to join the bone marrow registry. Here's a few lessons learned:

1. You will NOT be in pain. The most uncomfortable part of the whole thing was the IV. That legit hurt, for a minute or two. I never took my painkillers. I was fine on Tylenol alone, and just a bit uncomfortable. I also had a hard time sleeping for a few days and took benadryl to counteract what they called the paradoxical affect of anesthesia.
The entirety of what I used post-op

2. The antiseptic wipes are unpleasant. Before the surgery, they give you two sets of antiseptic wipes. The night before, I showered, waited two hours and then wiped myself down as instructed. And I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I was itchy and sticky and smelly, and I had to repeat the whole thing the morning of the surgery. This is pretty standard for any surgery but it was annoying nonetheless.

3. Don't wear tops with thumb holes. I was going for comfy cute and that was a bad idea. I had IVs in both hands and zero desire to mess with what was going on there when I was ready to get discharged. They also get you dressed and ready to go, then take out the IVs in case they end up needing them again.

4. Plan not to shower. You can't shower the morning of the surgery, and then you can't shower until you've had your post-op appointment the next day. Brent helped me wash my hair and sponge off, but I wish I had brought dry shampoo just in case.

5. Eat soft foods. I chose general anesthesia, which meant I got a breathing tube. I had a sore throat when I woke up and swallow was a little painful, so I wish I had planned to eat way, way more ice cream.

6. It will take over your life for a little while. From the point I flew out to Baltimore for my first full-screening to the days immediately after the procedure, it occupied my thoughts significantly. Because I had a cold when I went for my first round of bloodwork, I was fairly consumed with the idea of getting better and staying well. I left early from the Auto Show and went to bed at 9 p.m. most nights for a month before the procedure. I stopped swimming at the gym because it's a germ-infested cesspool. A loved one was sick the week before and I didn't go visit because I couldn't risk torpedoing this procedure at the last minute.

"Smile like we don't have to be asleep in 30 minutes"

7. Then it will feel like it didn't happen at all. I have a few small marks to remind me this ever happened. I was working from home the next day. I was at a work conference a week and a half later.

Day 25: Marathon day
Day 14: Working hard
 Have questions? E-mail me.

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