As I continue to recover from last month’s stem cell transplant, I marvel at the size and skill of the transplant team at the University of Iowa.

Before I arrived, social worker Tammy Temple helped me find housing at half the cost of a normal room. She even made reservations for me.

Once I arrived, outpatient transplant coordinator, Sonya Behrends, and Dr. Tricot’s nurse, Paula, kept me informed, checking Dr. Silvermanon me throughout the process. I was constantly monitored by a half dozen doctors, nurses and physicians assistants. The BMT team was led by Dr. Silverman. I hadn’t met her before I was admitted with a fever and infection early on. She was very helpful, taking the time to check on me everyday. Dr. Silverman’s decades of experience was reassuring; between her and Dr. Tricot, I knew I was in good hands.

My journey started by taking an orientation class, led by nurse Shannon Hunger. Very helpful. So were the materials she prepared for us to review.

The next day I began my four day stem cell harvest. Tim, Kati and helpful support staff kept things running smoothly:

Stem cell harvest off to a great start!

 

The equipment was remarkable. Here’s a close up of the new apheresis machine they used to collect almost nine million stem cells:

STEM CELL TRANSPLANT 016

Next, pharmacist Susan Fajardo, carefully reviewed my list of meds and supplements. This was helpful. Prior to my first transplant in 2011, I was told to stop taking anything I was using prior to the transplant. Being more selective this time, I was able to continue taking much of what I was on prior to the transplant, including AndroGel, my testosterone supplement. We met again as I was discharged to go over the new meds I’d be taking, and to cover which supplements I could start using again.

Techs helped me shower and kept me comfortable. And the food was surprisingly good, or so I’ve been told. No matter how smoothly things went, my taste buds crashed and nothing looked or tasted good. Fortunately, Dietitian Susan Little helped keep me on track so I could maintain my strength. The high calorie yogurt parfaits she suggested ordering were one of the few things I could keep down.

Physical Therapist, Melanie House, did an amazing job, taking the time to demonstrate–and then jot down–a number of exercises I hadn’t considered doing before our meetings. I’ve worked with a number of physical therapists in the past. Melanie is by far the best. She’s so good, I’ve invited her to speak at next year’s Beach Party event.

Most importantly, everyone followed up. I can’t imagine getting better care.

The BMT unit was a busy place; every room was full. I’ve been told they hope to double in size over the next few years.

Those of you that have undergone one or more stem cell transplants understand what a big deal it is; so many working so hard to help keep us safe. Hopefully researchers will find a way to help improve the success rate moving forward. Maybe T cell therapy will crack the code.

Feel good and keep smiling! Pat