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Bone Marrow Transplant – What the Media and Medical Profession Do Not Want You To Know!
After I was diagnosed in January of 1989 the medical profession tried to use me as a guinea pig. I believe they do this because they know you are in shock and very vulnerable. At the age of 29 and three small children, I must have been in for a shock. The doctor who diagnosed me said I would die in 3 to 3 and a half years. The fear was overwhelming and I know now that I was incapable of making a rational decision. I decided to delay BMT and keep my options open.
Finally, at the age of 35 I decided to have the BMT. My family members were tested and luckily I had two siblings who were both perfect matches. BMT is not a surgical procedure but a medical procedure that is non-invasive but very intensive. I along with nine others I started the procedure on the same day as they did. We got three days of what they call lethal chemotherapy and then four days of total body radiation. The only way to describe what they do to you is that they kill you and then they do their best to try not only to revive you but to keep you alive for as many years as possible afterwards.
Call me the lucky one, but the other nine BMT recipients started dying almost immediately and by the end of the first year there were only three of us left. And over the next six months the other two succumbed to the BMT. After you have BMT, the leukemia is never the cause of death. The number one cause of death after BMT is graft vs host. Graft versus host is where your new bone marrow sees all these foreign organs and objects in your body and tries to get rid of them. Remember that you have the donor’s bone marrow inside you and the bone marrow sees your body as completely foreign. The doctors try to help the bone marrow adjust but it is usually a losing cause. I’m not absolutely sure, but my guess is that all of the other nine people lost their lives because of the fight that was going on inside them of graft versus host.
After having the BMT I was tested several times to see if I had graft vs host but I never did. I did have and get almost every other possible illness and disease, but I survived and am currently doing well. Life was very different from what I expected. At 53 I am still unable to hold a full-time job. The chemotherapy and radiation do things to the body that doctors are still looking for answers to.
To give you a brief idea of what I went through — I had pneumonia 15 to 20 times and each time was a hospital visit of an average of 2 weeks. I contracted the tendon over 10 years ago and still suffer from it sometimes. I had cataract surgery on both eyes. A month or two after the BMT my weight was down to 114 pounds — and at 6′ 2″ I had very little meat on my body. In addition to having no hair anywhere, I was a rack of bones slathered in skin and I could barely .walk.At my home I had to crawl up the stairs to the bedroom because I couldn’t stand being on my feet for so long.I had a double hernia operation and several other painful ailments that still seem to linger.
I still have problems with my weight, so the doctors gave me medicine to increase my appetite so I can gain weight. It took me about 2 years to finally get up to 150 pounds, but today I gained a lot more weight because of the medication and am at almost 200 pounds. This is about the perfect weight for my body.
To this day my main problems are severe fatigue and terrible digestive tract problems. But at least I am alive and have seen all four of my children grow up and become adults. Currently I have 3 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren in the oven. Life isn’t necessarily great, but I know it could be a lot worse.
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