Rotten Tomatoes and Hot Dogs

Second Transplant Day

Second Transplant Day

I got an award! Okay, so maybe it’s not the type of award that is going to boost my resume, but it’s still an award. During my Bad Day post that Malcom blogged about, I was given the award for throwing up the most in one day. I guess I broke some kind of record. What a proud moment for me. Anyways, I am happy to report that I am doing much better and recovering fast. My second transplant took place on January 26th (which is also known as day zero). I was given 5 stem cell bags, a little over 5 million stem cells. There are parts of the day that I remember clearly and one thing that sticks to mind is the smell of the stem cell bags. Because I harvested my own stem cells, they had to be preserved with a preservative called Dimethyl sulfoxide or DMSO. This is said to have an odor. Different people describe the odor differently, but there is always some sort of smell in the room while a patient is getting the actual transplant. This does not happen with patients who have an allogenic transplant (donated bone marrow), because a lot of the times the transplant is done the same day that the marrow is extracted from the donor. There is no need to preserve the donated stem cells, but again this does not apply to me. So the day came, that I got my 2nd and final bone marrow transplant. As the first bag of stem cells was hung, the odor hit me. It smelled liked rotten tomatoes and to add insult to injury it tasted like that too. I started to feel nauseous so the nurse gave me some anti-nausea medication. I had visitors in the room while I was getting my transplant and they described the smell of oysters and sulfur. I wonder if Yankee Candle makes that fragrance since it’s so appetizing.

2nd Transplant - Stem Cells

2nd Transplant – Stem Cells

Five bags later, the transplant was done and the odor lingered. Eventually I got used to it, but I reeked this perfume of rotten tomatoes for days. I really did not know what kind of effect it would have on me moving forward until I was walking the halls one day (part of my daily exercise routine) and walked past a patient’s room that was getting their transplant. That familiar smell triggered my memory and I began to feel sick again. My oncologist describes it as “the smell of life” and he is completely right. I will never forget that smell.

The hospital food at any hospital is never really good, but on the Bone Marrow transplant floor, the food is particularly bad. They have their own kitchen because there are so many food restrictions for patients getting transplant. Everything is microwaved and nothing can be prepared fresh. Patients are encouraged to bring in their own frozen meals in addition to what they have on the menu.As most of you know, I have a real passion for food. I love cooking and eating wonderful homemade meals. It’s a huge part of my culture and who I am. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Whopper or Big Mac from time to time, but I really love eating meals that are prepared with passion.During my stay at the hospital, there was one thing that I really craved and wanted to eat, hot dogs. I wanted to eat hot dogs with mustard and onions on them. Just thinking about them got my stomach talking. Of course hot dogs are definitely NOT on the menu. Mustard and onions are out of the question. That did not stop me. As soon as this craving came on, I was determined to fulfill it. I talked to the doctors, who not only looked at me like I was crazy, but reminded me of how sick I would be if I were to consume them. What did they know?! Here I was, cooped up in this hospital eating a microwaved prepared grilled cheese sandwich with side of Jell-O. All I really wanted was some hot dogs. Is that too much to ask for? Apparently so.

I am a firm believer of the saying that “you can have anything you want, if you really want it.” I don’t need to tell you what happened next. For those of you who know me, the answer is clear, but for those of you who don’t, let me tell you. I got my hot dogs. I ate them with mustard (no onions) and they were the most delicious tasting hot dogs EVER. I was thrilled for days that I got to eat them and am smiling now while I write this part. Did I get sick? A little, but it was totally worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat. No matter what, you have to keep on living and finding joy in the smallest things.

12 Responses to “Rotten Tomatoes and Hot Dogs”

  1. 1 Jim February 16, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    So pleased to hear you enjoyed the wieners. Good for you on grabbing hold of what you wanted deep down.

    Cya soon!

  2. 2 Allie February 17, 2009 at 11:09 am

    How do you feel about a nice kielbasa?

    I love you!!!

  3. 3 Diana February 17, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Hi G-bug – love that big smile on your pix! You are amazing to smile like that after all you have been through. One thing I gotta talk to you about though – hot dogs, really!!!! Of all the things to crave. You know they only come back to bite you later! Man, I hope you get home soon!

  4. 4 Courtney February 18, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Girl, someway, somehow the next time I see you I am going to make you a meal with passion. You know that’s what I love to do too! I love you.

  5. 5 Sara February 18, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Now I am craving a hotdog! With chili and onions…even if they have to be microwaved. Girl, I am taking you to a Yankees game and we are going to eat LOTS of hotdogs. Get ready!

  6. 6 Nick February 18, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Stem cells look kind of like melty grape popsicle! Who knew?! We miss you. We need to have an EC get-together very soon.

  7. 7 Kim February 18, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    I am going to pass on the urge to make weiner jokes here – too easy. Love you babe! Miss you.

  8. 8 Shelley February 24, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Hey baby!!! Let me know when I can bring you some salt & pepper potato chips!!! Miss you!

  9. 9 Nicole February 25, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Hello, Petit Coeur!
    Your mother wrote that you were all home, exhausted but home…. it is indeed the best place to recuperate!
    I haven’t been around, because I got a stupid cough and it comes and goes…. you certainly don’t need that and although I am not contagious, I just feel I need to stay away… physically that is, because you and your family are forever in my thoughts. I check your site regularly and I rejoice that you have kept your wicket sense of humor and that strong will that will see you through this ordeal….
    Your birthday is around the corner and we need to celebrate… with hot dogs if you wish, or something more fancy….
    I love you, take good care, Nicole

  10. 10 amy February 25, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    hello beautiful! long time no talk. hope you are feeling a bit better, and i miss you much!! wish i could be there.

    on a different note, i now have lost all urge to ever eat another hot dog and am now remembering a bad incident with artichokes. thanks for that. 🙂

    love you much, best wishes, sending you good vibes like always.

    – seals

  11. 11 Harvey Lynch March 1, 2009 at 12:03 am

    Hello Geraldine,

    As I sit, 14 time zones away from Virginia, in my hotel room on the 22nd floor overlooking the city of Hiroshima and Hiroshima bay in the greater distance, I am thinking of you. I hope that you are making good progress. You have come so far already, and you are doing great.

    Sending you my warm greetings and Love,


  12. 12 Lois March 12, 2009 at 7:56 am

    I am so glad to hear that you are doing better and are home again.

    I am sorry that I have not been to see you, but we ae constantly on the go now.
    I think of you often. When I talk to Malcom I always ask for an update on you.

    I would love to see you again soon. Hang in there and keep up the good work.

    Take care, you are in my thoughts and prayers

    Love ya


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