No and No.
It's not surgery, not even close. It's more of a long drawn out transfusion. Heck, it is transfusion except that that bag is filled with blood and marrow. The infusion is long - mine took six hours to infuse. Day 0, referred as the D-Day of transplant, was long and tedious. I spent my day waiting and sleeping in my room. I also had mixed emotions - worry, nervousness, restlessness and fatigue because there's always a chance that my donor would back out. I could only give a sigh of relief when the delivery lady arrived with a huge bag of marrow donation. I was in tears when I saw my donor's bag of marrow. I can't tell if those were tears of joy or tears of sadness. Joy because someone, a complete stranger, donated his marrow for me and sadness because I still couldn't comprehend the magnitude of what I am and are about to go through - which takes us to life after a BMT.
What is normal after a BMT? This is a tough question because in my experience, normal is not "normal" anymore - physically, emotionally and psychologically.
- My skin is dry and my skin gets sunburnt easily due to chemo. I have to wear sunscreen for life.
- My stomach is super sensitive, so I have to be very careful with my meals. I seem to have developed Lactose intolerance. Doctor said my donor might have passed it to me.
- I have a mild skin Graft-vs-host disease.
- I get tired easily. Fatigue is a word I often feel.
- My emotions are on a roller coaster ride. Sometimes I feel happy and out of nowhere, I feel sad and depressed. Fear sometimes grips me. Anxiety comes attacking in the morning, day or night.
- I have no patience and I tend to snap at times.
- I am very sensitive, and there are times I cry for no reason.
- I forget a lot of things. Doctor said it's chemo brain.
- I also suffer from lack of concentration. Reading a book is a challenge now compared to before my BMT that I could seat all afternoon and finished a novel.
- There's a lingering feeling of loss - loss of time, loss of self, loss of who I am and what I want to be.
I am not sure if these are temporary changes or will they stick with me forever.