Day +50: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Day +50. All of my counts continue to rise! Hgb broke 12 today at 12.3 g/dL, platelets at 185 x10^9/L, ANC at 1.53 x10^9/L, and WBCs at 4 x10^9/L. I’m getting suuuuper close to getting into the normal range for all of the cell types! I’ve just gotta keep climbing. Thanks for the support Miley!


The mild GVHD rash on my face and torso have finally cleared after a week of religiously applying a topical cream twice a day. I no longer have body aches or major fatigue, which is amazing. I’ve developed some congestion in my right ear which limits my hearing, but I’m taking a few medications to try and clear that up. All in all, I’m doing pretty well and my body is happy. 🙂

In other news, I’ve been keeping myself busy doing Christmas. I handmade 80 cards (thanks to Paper Source), as well as five different kinds of Christmas cookies (sugar, ginger molasses, raspberry almond thumbprint, chocolate peppermint crinkles, and mexican wedding cookies). It’s amazing how much you can do when your body is able to efficiently oxygenate itself with an abundance of red blood cells!

As the new year rolls in and I approach day +60, I’ll be going down to once a week appointments from twice a week. We’ll also be checking the chimerism once more to see if the graft is stable (vs. last time). If the chimerism results come back positive, my mom will be free to go back home! Since I’m fairly independent and able bodied, I won’t need a caregiver 24/7. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’ll be able to go back to life as it was. I still have to take all the same precautions as before (e.g. being careful about what I eat, always washing hands, avoiding crowds as much as possible), but I’ll at least be able to take care of myself more.

I have loved having my mom here and I know she’s enjoyed taking care of me again. It’s been so great to spent this time reconnecting with her since I left for college. I do realize though that she has roles to fill back at home and the sooner she can go back, the sooner things start to feel normal again. I’ll definitely miss all the homemade Korean food, but I’m getting well enough to start cooking for myself. I’m glad we’ll be able to spend Christmas and New Year’s together though. 🙂


Day +40: The chimera that WAS!

Day +40. Wow. What a week! First off, I am extremely thrilled to announce that as of day +28, I am 100% donor (well, my B cells, T cells, and neutrophils are 100% donor), which means that the allo stem cell transplant is working so far! #winning #chimera

Secondly, I’d also like to report that as of today my counts are still on the rise with my hemoblogin being 11.5 g/dL — the highest it’s been since (presumably) summer 2014. Platelets are doing well, neutrophils are stable, all systems go!

Things are progressing quite nicely. That is, except for the mild graft versus host disease (GVHD) that has started in the form of skin rashes on my face and upper body. I thought at first I was breaking out, like a pubescent teenager, with all of these bumps on my face and hairline and then to random spots on my torso. But then they started to itch like narsty mosquito bites and I remembered about the GVHD. I got two creams, one for my face and one for my body, to apply twice daily. I’m really hoping this helps curb the rashes, if anything the itchiness. It’s like chicken pox itchy minus the fever and viciously infectious parts.

My aunt from New York came last week to visit for a few weeks. She’s my mom’s youngest sister and it’s been really great having here. She speaks more English than my mom so having her to help explain things at doctor’s appointments has been super helpful, along with how she tempers my mom’s crazy when I cough or sneeze or basically do anything other than eat or sleep. It also helps that she lives in a major metropolitan area so she’s more equipped to navigate urban areas better than my mom. I’m really grateful that she’s here. 🙂

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been Christmasing like crazy, decorating the apartment with enough holiday cheer to keep it festive but not getting too crazy. Also, Amazon Prime is my best friend. Since I can’t be out in crowded public spaces (more than 4-5 people in one space), I’ve been doing most of my shopping online. I’ve seriously been getting at least one package a day for the past week and a half. Probably not the most eco-conscious way of shopping, but I’m recycling all the packaging materials!

Other things I’ve been getting because Ricky will FaceTime me, say, at Target, to pick up a few things you just can’t quite get online. I’m definitely in the “holiday” spirit, but judiciously and sparingly listening to holiday music. There are still 18 days to Christmas. I hope I don’t lose steam too soon!

Day +34: Decembrrr.

Day +34. The counts continue to steadily rise. Hemoglobin is 10.8 g/dL (!), platelets at 127 x10^9/L, neutrophils at a steady 0.99 x10^9/L, and lymphocytes at 1.59 x10^9/L. These are great numbers. These are happy numbers. I think I should be in the normal range for everything by the turn of the new year. 2016, come at me.

It’s December 1st. World AIDS Day, #GivingTuesday, and the day in 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man (60 years ago! And we’re still dealing with blatant racism! And sexism!). Reflecting on these celebrations, these events has helped remind me that there is so much more going on in the world beyond the four walls of this mom-enforced-house-arrest apartment.

They remind me that there is so much hurt and pain and suffering in the world that are bigger than the hell of a year that I’ve been through. They remind me of all the work that is left to do, all the minds there are to inform and enlighten, all the hearts there are to touch and open, all the scientific progress there is left undone. They remind me, inspire me, charge me to look deep within myself (and, of course, during this time of convalescence) to see what it is that I can do to make this world just a little bit better.

It’s been a long time since I’ve thought of these things, 13 months to be exact. Right before everything started to get really serious with the aplastic anemia, I was on a speedy trajectory to “doing something” with myself, to making a difference. I had grand plans, big ideas, and a full heart ready to give as much as I could to a cause I really believed in. But life has a funny way of slowing you down, stopping you in your tracks, and making you readjust your plans.

So, as I sit here in bed letting my body rest and slowly rebuild itself, while my cognitive abilities are dusted off and are reawakened, while I try to stay warm in the frigid SF weather (it was a low of 47 today; that’s cold!), I begin to think about what this life, in it’s new and unexpectedly changed form, will be. As much as I wish I had the answers now like my 22 year old self did, I know better. I know, now, to wait. To be more patient, to be more kind, to be more forgiving both to myself and others. The right things will happen in their appropriate times. For each day is a victory, and each week is progress.