The bone marrow birthday and the cake of doom

by Bill

Yesterday did not go exactly as planned.  The most important thing did, though.  Oliver got his bone marrow transplant.  Ever since he relapsed in April we have been praying for him to be ready for that to happen and so we are very grateful that it has happened and that he is so full of health and good humor today.

The staff at Primary Children's Hospital did everything they could to help Oliver and our family celebrate this exciting moment.  They even took Oliver's mother to the Emergency Room.

Before talking about that, I should tell you more about other things that happened yesterday.  Friday morning began with Oliver being able to sleep in a bit since, unlike Monday through Thursday, he was not woken up before dawn so he could get ready to be transported to the Huntsman Cancer Institute for radiation therapy.

Throughout the day nurses, techs, doctors, other patients and their parents all wished Oliver "Happy Bone Marrow Birthday."  People gave him gifts.  One doctor even baked an amazingly tasty cake that we later referred to "The Cake of Doom!"

At some point we learned that there had been a delay and so the transplant process would begin at 10:00 PM instead of 3:00.  Around 8:00 Oliver decided he wanted to share the cake that had been baked for him and so his mother began cutting it up with a sharp knife.  The first ten slices were given away without incident.

I ate a piece of this cake and so let me take a moment to let you know what you missed.  The bottom layer was about an inch deep and was made up of delicious rice crispy treats.  On top of that was over an inch of a delightful mixture of  cream cheese, marshmellow fluff and cool whip.  It is hard to imagine something that would be more appealing to the palette of my eleven year old son.

This was a fairly large cake, and Oliver has made a lot of friends, and so after we gave away the first ten slices Jana decided she would chop up the rest so he could give it away also.  The cake had begun to stick to the pan a bit more and so she decided to use the knife as a spatula.  It was getting close to 9:00 and so she started to hurry so we could finish before 10:00 when the transplant was scheduled to begin.

Unfortunately, her haste ended promptly when the knife slipped off the bottom of the pan and cut into her left wrist.  I won't talk much about blood but the rest of the cake was ruined and Jana had to go down to the Emergency Room.  While she was down there they observed signs that could indicate a heart attack and so she was transported one block to an adult hospital in an ambulance so that they could make sure she was OK-- which she was, and still is.

I am so grateful that a family friend came up to sit with Jana while she went through her own hospital experience so that I could sit with Oliver for the next three hours as the bone marrow was transfused into his blood stream.  Within a half an hour of being asked to come, our friend was at the hospital and stayed there until about 3:00 AM when she drove Jane back to Primary Children's Hospital.  Our family has been blessed by so many acts of service and kindness, from so many people, since Oliver was first diagnosed with leukemia but this act stands out.

While Jana was at the hospital a group of staff people from Primary Children's walked into Oliver's room with more gifts and sang a rousing version of "Happy Bone Marrow Birhday" to Oliver.  His nurse had helped him make a paper TARDIS so that he could claim his new bone marrow had arrived in a time machine.  Perhaps he will now be part Gallifreyian.  Becoming part alien might be an effective way to battle leukemia.  I am not sure why that approach has not been researched more than it has.

A few months ago Oliver saw someone else getting a transplant and told me that a bone marrow transplant "is just a funny looking blood transfusion."  He was right.  I stayed awake for all three hours (partially because I was waiting for Jana's test results but also because I wanted to be sure I was awake if he had a negative reaction) and learned why so many people have used the word "anticlimactic" to describe the transplant process itself.  It is kind of amazing that such a complicated medical procedure, that did not exist a few decades ago, can feel so routine.

In our case, my adorable wife unintentionally found a way to make the night more memorable.  I am so grateful that Oliver and Jana are both doing so well today.  They have both blessed my lives in so many incredible ways.  Every day I get to spend with either or both of them is a miracle.

Oliver was a lot of fun today.

A lot of issues around timely transplant transport
would be resolved by the uses of a TARDIS..
This photo only includes about half the people who sang "Happy Bone Marrow Birthday" to Oliver last night.  I wish I had a picture of the other half but I was on that side of the room.

Jana and Oliver were so excited about the cake a doctor baked for Oliver that they posed for multiple pictures with it before the unfortunate incident.

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