Finally – the date that seemed so far away is just about here. The suitcases are packed (had to dig out long sleeve shirts and regular trousers which don’t get much use here in SW Florida where the daily temp still reaches 90). The travel documents have been double checked and the flight and hotel reservations have been confirmed. Earlier this week we went to the local bank to pick up the Euros to pay the Clinic. My hand is still sore from signing my name so many times and filling in the name of the XCell Center on over 40 travelers cheques. On the date we purchased the cheques, one euro cost $1.46 USD.
We leave Fort Myers for Atlanta at about noon on Sunday. The flight to Germany leaves Atlanta at 4:25pm and arrives in Dusseldorf at 7:30am on Monday morning – 9 hours in the air! I’ll be wearing compression knee-high socks to help my blood pressure stay steady and plan to drink plenty of water along with walking around or at least standing up when possible. After a brief train ride we should arrive in Cologne no later than 10am. The Lindner Hotel, which is just a few blocks from the railway station, has graciously offered us an early check-in at no cost. After such a long and probably tiring trip, it’s a big relief to learn we can get into our room early.
The bone marrow extraction is scheduled for noon on Tuesday. If all goes well, we plan to do some sightseeing on Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday while XCell isolates the stem cells from the marrow. With all the red meat and iron-rich foods and supplements Fran has been feeding me over these past few weeks, I’m certain my stem cells are charged up and raring to go. It’s then back to XCell on Thursday at 11am for the stem cell implantation via lumbar puncture. After a day or so of rest in the hotel we hope to do some more sightseeing on Saturday before heading home on Sunday morning
As the trip to Cologne and XCell draws nearer, the apprehension grows as well. Is the outcome going to be worth the expense? What is the actual procedure and recovery going to be like? Are my expectations too high? How long do I wait for some sign of progress? For those of you who decide to undergo a stem cell implantation procedure in the future – either at XCell or some other clinic around the world - be prepared for an emotional roller coaster ride. I suppose it’s just human nature.
Finally, I’m taking a laptop along on the trip and hope to offer some random thoughts to those of you who have viewed this blog over 1200 times. Thanks again for all your support.