Making the Best of Hospital Life

Gina and I moved into the Bartch Transplant House, on campus at Florida Hospital, on April 3rd.  Gina and I stayed there together before I was admitted to the hospital.  Now Gina is back and forth between my hospital room and the Bartch House, and we will both stay there together again for two weeks after I am released from the hospital.  I had 11 days of tests and pre-transplant procedures between April 3rd and April 13th.  I will be a patient in the Bone Marrow Transplant unit of Florida Hospital for about two weeks, and then I will need to stay close to the hospital for follow up for the first two weeks after I am released. 

The Bartch House has been a blessing.  We anticipated that it would be a safer, more affordable, more convenient alternative to a hotel, and it is all those things.  We were surprised by the sweet community of staff and neighbors. 

There was a break in the action that allowed us to come home for Easter weekend.  We returned home Thursday evening, April 13th.  We attended a memorial luncheon on Saturday and church on Easter Sunday.  On Monday, I did something new.  I met Rick at church to record a sermon for broadcast later, and we also recorded Bible readings to show on three of the Sundays that I will miss church.  On Monday evening, April 17th, we returned to the Bartch House to settle in for the week.

I was admitted to Florida Hospital’s Bone Marrow Transplant unit on Tuesday, April 18th.  Tuesday was mostly for learning the routine here.  Wednesday was the day of my chemo blast.  Thursday (today as I am writing this) is a day of rest.  Friday is what they call “Day Zero,” the day they start infusing me with my stem cells that were collected last week.  I feel pretty good now, but they tell me that I am likely to experience flu-like symptoms next week.  After about a week, my re-infused stem cells will learn to get along with my wiped out immune system, and I will begin my comeback. 

These are my favorite things about life in the hospital so far:

1.        They have given me assignments.  I am supposed to walk and exercise every day whether I feel like it or not.  Although this might seem like a burden, I see it as a rare opportunity to contribute to my own recovery as part of the team rather than victim of the disease.  I know this is geeky, but I calculated that seven laps around the BMT unit is one mile.  Taking inspiration from Bart, my SC friend who walked this path a few years back, I intend to walk a marathon’s worth of miles before I am released. 

2.       The staff here is incredible, combining the competence that we expected with a surprising level of compassion.

3.       Since I am not allowed to go do stuff, Gina and I have more time to just be together and entertain ourselves.  We are halfway through season 2 of “Better Call Saul” on Netflix.  I am listening to an audiobook – Cain at Gettysburg by Ralph Peters – when I walk the hall alone.  I am reading The Man in the High Castle on Kindle when it’s dark in the room and I don’t want to disturb Gina.  And I am reading two actual books:  Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.  I love to read, but I don’t time for this much indulgence during my regular life.

4.       On Easter Sunday, Samantha presented us with a box of envelopes marked “Agape for Curt.”  Each envelope is labeled with a number, counting down from sixty, and a Bible verse.  Inside each envelope is some form of creative blessing from a family in the church.  I have been like a kid at Christmas, waking up early and opening the envelope before Gina wakes up.  Later, Gina looks up the verse and reads it aloud to me.  I’ve made a guessing game of that part, trying to guess the verse from the reference before she reads it.  We are still in the first week, and we have already received an incredible variety of gifts that have combined generosity, creativity and humor.  So far, we have received original art, a haiku anthology, a Top 10 list and “Pastor Curt’s Feel Better Book!” (It worked).