Monday, July 25, 2011

I'm Back!

I am back in South Carolina after two weeks in Texas!  I have had several emails from you guys asking how everything went in here is the update on "The Houston Project" as my Dad likes to call it.

My Dad and I drove to New Orleans on Saturday, July 9th.  I haven't been there since I was like 8 years old and I was very excited to be back.  The excitement didn't really last too long.  We stayed there for a couple hours and had a great dinner but I just can not get over the smell on Bourbon Street!  We were there before the big partying started and it already smelled like a mixture of beer and urine!  I do believe that people wear more to the beach than they do on this street.  Saying all of that, I am so glad I went but I am in no hurry to go back!

On Sunday, Dad and I arrived in Houston around lunch time.  We went to a great restaurant called Rudy' if you are ever in Texas....this is a must!

I really don't remember what else we did the rest of the day.  Monday, I checked into MD Anderson as a patient.  I had to give them all my blood it felt like for blood work....
See told you....21 vials of blood!  The next couple days, I had to have a EKG test, chest x-ray and meet with two different stem cell doctors.  We got a tour of the room where I would donate my stem cells and it was is the coldest room in the hospital!  They checked my veins to make sure they were good enough for the donation process because you have a line in one arm taking your blood, your blood goes through some machine to separate the stem cells and then there is another line in your other arm where you get your blood back.  But of course my veins were not big enough so I had to have a femoral CVC line put in my groin area the day of the procedure.  I was actually excited to get this so I would be able to move my arms during the 4 hours it took to give stem cells. 
I also learned about my neupogen shots that I had to take for 4 days.  We were able to do the shots at home so I didn't have to go to the hospital each day to get them.  They told me it would make my bones hurt, kinda like having arthritis.  Man did my bones hurt! I tried not to complain too much since this is nothing compared to what Jodi has to do but I did complain some...couldn't help it!  The pain was bones started hurting soon after I got the shot each morning.  The pain would move from one elbow to the other, go to my knees, back, chest and head.  I had a constant headache and backache.  Here are a few pictures....

two shots a day for 4 days

just a little pricey!

My Dad having a little fun with the situation

No, he didn't need the mask or stethoscope

His work is done! after all my shots were done, it was time to check in for blood work, get my CVC line and donate stem cells (last Monday).  The CVC line didn't hurt at all to get in...I just couldn't bend my leg or sit normally for two days.  When they took the line out on Tuesday...I found out why.  It was like 7 inches long going through my vein!

Jodi really didn't push me in the wheelchair....this was just a fun picture.  But I did have to be pushed since I was on some drugs after getting my CVC line in
After my line was in, we had a little time to wait.  So Mom went to get us Chick-fil-A.  My appointment was at 1 (Jodi and Dad went back to the apartment) but of course I didn't get hooked up until 3:30..there is a lot of waiting at MD Anderson.  I got all hooked up and was finally comfortable.  I had my own little tv and was set.  I couldn't feel anything from the procedure.  Then about 30 minutes into it, my face was really tingly and my fingers.  She said I needed more calcium, so she gave me some and said I would be fine.  Well, I was tingly the entire time, which was fine, just weird!  Before we got started, i asked my nurse what happens if I get nauseous.  I told her I did when I gave platelets and this procedure is a lot like giving platelets...just longer. (each person donating stem cells gets your own nurse.  You are their only patient, so she was at my bed the whole time).  She said that wouldn't never does.  Well..guess happened! I told her I didn't feel good and within seconds I was sick.  Then about 30 minutes later, I was sick again!  She gave me medicine then :)  Once that was over...I only had about 20 minutes left to donate...yay :)  The only thing is, they do not know if you have donated enough until the next morning, I had to donate 4 million cells, so I was unsure at this time if I had to do this again on Tuesday.  

My stem cells
We finished up around 6:30 and went home for supper.  Well they had supper, I  had two bites of grits and laid on the couch.  Jodi gave me a wonderful shirt that said "I donated stem cells to save my sisters life" and a super sweet card (that I had to reread on Tuesday bc I had no idea what it said..) 

We went back on Tuesday morning to find out if I donated enough.  I walked it (they remembered my since I was so sick haha) and they you were close!  I donated 3.94 million stem cells (I went in knowing that 40% of people have to donate two days) and they had to check with the doctor to see if that was enough.  A while later she said it was.  I was so excited I wanted to hug her, but then I got nervous and double checked that there would be enough for Jodi :)   So I was done....Mom and I headed over to get the CVC line out.  It wasn't bad, the only thing that I felt was taking the stitches out.  The crazy thing was, my nurse held pressure on the spot for 10 minutes and then I had to lay with a 10 pound sack on it for an hour.  This is the largest vein and they had to be extra sure it had stopped bleeding!

That night we went to Cavender's Boots and Jodi bought me these!!

I picked these out the first time I was in Houston...I love them.  I was certainly not expecting her to buy me those!  Dad said these boots are worth 3.94 million stem cells!

I was able to hang out with my family for a couple days before heading back to SC on Thursday/Friday.  We went back to Rudy's the night before I left and it was so yummy :)

Wow...this is a long post!  That was my trip to Houston.  Jodi goes to the hospital today for a month.  She starts chemo tomorrow I think and will have her transplant next Monday, August 1...her re-birthday!  Please keep the prayers coming for her.  This next month isn't going to be fun for her!


  1. Jami, you're a hero. You're awesome!

  2. I'm soo glad you are back and everything went well!! You are truly a hero and I really admire you for being able to do this for your sister :) I'll keep Jodi in my prayers that everything goes well with her!

  3. Thanks for the detailed post. I prayed for both you and Jodi :). It's so good to know what actually goes into a donation like this.

  4. What an amazing sister you are~I will be thinking of your sister! I really hope all goes well! :)

  5. She's the best sister out there :)