Day -7, Tuesday

Photo of The Day: My new home for the next 30-40 days, 3NE, Transplant & Oncology Unit, all cleaned up, my belongings put away.

It’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.

Michelle Obama

Today I officially checked into 3NE of the NIH Clinical Center. Tomorrow I start my full rounds of chemo, with my stem cell transplant set for October 27. On today’s daily schedule “admission to 3NE” seemed innocent and not busy. In reality, there were a lot of moving parts. Thankfully, I just stayed put and most of the folks throughout the hospital paid me a visit, which made my room seem like a revolving door of clinicians. But overall, it wasn’t bad.

I DO need to say that I was able to make a second impression on the lovely doctor who came into my room while I was undergoing acupuncture therapy the other day. Yeah, I still remember the needles and embarrassment. So does he. But he’s actually a preeminent expert of Graft vs Host, and I’ll likely see him again at some point. He was still chill. I think we’ll get along well.

My day actually started with packing. It was like a tornado went through my room at The Lodge. Not pretty, but I’ll share.

Please please don’t think that I live like this. And besides, haven’t you been told that before things are super tidy, it’s always WORSE first? Yeah – I can confirm. It’s true

But I managed to not only clean my room, but fit EVERYTHING into all suitcases and packs 25 minutes before my outpatient clinical center visit. And I was only 4 minutes late to my appointment after dry shampooing and sponging off. And if that’s not a victory to start the day, then I don’t know what is. The outpatient visit was mostly to check in with my Transplant Nurse Practitioner – touch base, see how I was feeling. We chatted mostly. I mentioned my sausage toes – which are now full fledged cankles – and also pointed out my central line and the amount of irritation it’s caused.

Cankles and sausage toes will eventually go away on their own. The Central Line would need a dressing change, which happened after I checked in as an inpatient. After the appointment wound down, I was told that I would have a few hours to spend outside before needing to check in to 3NE. So naturally, I did.

Yeah, in the first picture, I’m adjusting my compression socks. Thankfully they still fit, even if my extremities want to expand. The other colorful images were of foliage. In the next few weeks, I’ll be spending a lot of time indoors. I understand this is part of the transplant process while living in a COVID world, and I’m OK with that. I don’t have a choice.

So I wanted to take pictures of color, vibrant bursts of light that bring peace and life to nature. I see images like this on trails, running through Bent Creek, on trails and high passes Out West in my beloved Sierra and Colorado. Time passed too quickly though in that little alcove, tucked away behind the Family Lodge in my own little world.

Then 3:30 rolled around and I drove down into Patient Parking, or P1. The cones were confusing and really, they need to have better signs. At one point I tried to drive around a cone and got a massive, “HEY!!” from one of the parking attendants. It may have been followed by a lecture. But how was I supposed to know that I wasn’t supposed to go into the “NIH Police” lane? See….? Lack of clear signage. Rest assured, I made it clear this was a first from me, that I was from out of town, and I was a transplant patient about to check into inpatient. I still felt like an idiot, but, all was well.

My room, with all my bags.

Unpacking and organizing wasn’t bad – it just needed to get done. And I did – between meetings and appointments. I did a little photography, had a dinner/FaceTime date with Andy and was given my evening dose of completely new medications.

My hematology team has decided to start me on Lovonox, a fast acting 12-hour liquid blood thinner. The self-injection isn’t new; I’ve been administering this on and off to myself since 2010. Everything else was new, specifically the strong anti-viral medication, and two anti-seizure medications. This is because the dose of chemo is so high and there’s a risk of seizure as a side effect. I’ll be honest – I don’t mind prophylactic medications, thank you very much. Tomorrow, I’ll repeat all meds. And then start a full dose of chemo.

Side effects, you ask? I’m a bit sleepy – it’s a lot of new stuff for my system and one of the anti-seizure also works in tandem as an anti-anxiety, which isn’t all bad because even while flipping between cable news channels, I feel very relaxed. Sleepy too, which isn’t my normal reaction to cable.

And finally, because he loves me so – Andy left his favorite jersey, the one he wears EVERY Sunday, spritzed with some cologne for me. I supposed this will make me a Panthers fan. I think this was his plan all along.

It was very sweet. I will think of him when I yell at the games. Unless I have anti seizure meds, in which case I’ll do my best to not fall asleep.

  1. That name, Keuchly, and the jersey have beautiful significance for a dear friend of mine. I saw the picture of it hanging in your room and instantly felt reassured that you are in great hands in every way possible. Sending love and strength to you, Marit.

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  2. Getting so close…. Praying the full dose of chemo goes smoothly and with not too many complications. ❤️ I am mixed with excitement for you and fear of any issues. I can’t wait to see you again soon, Marit 2.0!! 🎉

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  3. Looks like you are all set! You will do great! The jersey is do sweet even though I’m a Packer fan LOL. I am praying for you girl. Good luck and stay strong!

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  4. Loved, LOVED Michelle Obama’s words❤️ How right she is about overcoming adversity, and you’re the expert at that. Not many know the trials you’ve had.
    Also loved your photographs, especially the first in series of leaves – wow!! Beauty’s certainly is in the eye of the beholder.
    After waiting so long, Marit, the time is here. Dad and I are with you every step of the way ❤️❤️ Oh, and yeah for the shirt and a bigger YEAH for Andy.

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  5. What a fantastic opening. Michelle Obama’s statement fits your situation. You have always faced difficult challenges and prevailed. Young Nam Kim said if you can play Max Bruch on the violin you can play anything. You met the 400+ miles challenge of the Colorado Rockies and triumphed. You set a record with the plank and showed up a fat idiot. What you are now undertaking is not easy but you will succeed. Your past victories show that you will come out healthier and stronger. You are proving that Michelle is right on. You will put Gata2 mutant into the dustbin of history.

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