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Marrow Is The Way

There is so much to say about the last month or so (computer failures, hurricanes, surreptitious calls to Sheri from guys in Nashville, lots of blood work and low blood counts and transfusions, surreptitious calls and emails from my nurses, and so much more...) and a real update will tell the story properly, I promise (by the first of the week, I hope, sometime after our Bubble Boy party). In the meantime, however, a few short bullet points will have to suffice...

Admission
Originally I told you that I was to go into the hospital on October 11. That has changed.

I will now check into the hospital to begin my unrelated-match, non-Myeloablative Bone Marrow Transplant on October 18.

Please mark down these dates:
OCTOBER 18.

That day will technically be "DAY -9" in a process that counts out to "DAY +180" and beyond. I will have the transplant itself on "DAY 0", or, in laymans' terms, October 27, 2005.

Again, mark it down:
October 27

Taking Me To School
Last Thursday Sheri & I, along with my parents, went to a seminar on how to do a "Non-Myeloablative Bone Marrow Transplant." At this seminar they told us in great, excruciating detail about the horrors of DAYS -9 thru DAY 0.

I actually stopped listening during their description of the third nasty side-effect of the chemotherapy taken during DAY -9 thru DAY -5, and only started listening when they started talking about nice things again. (Sometime not long after DAY 0.)

Along with describing the process and the needs, the seminar was very helpful as we begin to plan for not only my 40+ days in the hospital, but also for when I get out in late November or early December, and especially helpful in helping us figure out how to use and work together with our/my caregivers, first among them my parents, then others including Sheri's parents, our friends here in Philly, our church members and pastors, and others.

We've been doing much more than just prep and seminars, however.

SWAG is a Good Thing
As per my last posting, we've also been blessed by very generous friends and (in an odd way) colleagues.

Indeed, last Friday we were taken out by a couple of my "chemotherapy" nurses and the office receptionist from Dr. Hoessly's office. It was humbling and energizing and fun to be with Betty-Anne, Christine (and Steve) and Joy for an evening of fine, fine food and drink. (see previous post)

Marrow is the Way
Then, early last week I was told by Sheri to pack my bags for an overnight trip and be available to be away on Sunday thru Tuesday morning. And so, dutiful husband that I am, I did so and on Sunday we boarded a plane for Nashville (OK, so that part was only sort of a surprise) where we were met at the gate by our good friends and surprise party organizers Nick Giaconia and his wife Melanie (Nick is, if you don't remember, a singer-songwriter par excellence--see the album Center of the Earth circa 1994, a track on PRISM's Demonstrations of Love in '97 and then, in '98, his eponymous one-man-band Mattie Groves for proof.) Nick and Mel then took us on an overwhelming 36 hour journey of joy and friendship.

First, we were taken to our room--at the Loews Vanderbelt Hotel, easily one of the city's finest.

Then, if that wasn't enough, after a bit of time to refresh in our room, Nick and Mel arrived to take us around the corner from the hotel to one of the city's best bars. Yessireebob, this is no ordinary watering hole, but a mythic place of enlightenment, soul searching, business meetings and, always, laughter, a tiny little Mecca of a pub that I had talked to Sheri about many, many times, a great, neighborhood-y place filled with both character and "characters" and with a distinctly Irish tilt o' the head called Sherlocks.

(If you're ever in Music City, it's across from the Elliston Soda Shoppe and next to the Exit Inn on Elliston).

Sherlocks made a lot of sense on a Sunday night--a quiet night of the week when we could get some nurishment (real Fish & Chips, plus there was a good chance that we'd end up meeting a few friends there and Sheri would finally get to experience the Nashville I have oft spoken of and possibly meet some of the people I have spoken of so affectionately over the years whenever I have talked about good 'ol music city. I had no ideas.

Nope, none at all. As we opened the doors we were greeted by about 45 or 50 of my best friends in this home-away-from-home, all of them wearing surgical masks and rubber gloves, as if to mock my coming trial.

Indeed, that's what they were doing--and it's what all great friends do; they mock our trials and, as Nick would later sing, "join us in the dance." It was overwhelming, really, to be joined by such a group (too many to name, aside from fellow Myeloma-sojourner Janice Chafee and husband Jim, and Nick's co-conspirators in making a party Steve Taylor and Dave Palmer.

The reality was that the entire trip was at once humbling, exhilerating, energizing and exhausting, capped early on when Steve Taylor welcomed us to the party and presented me with a trophy engraved with the following enscription.

Dwight Ozard
2005 Can-American Transplant of the Year
"Marrow Is The Way"

I'll write more about the party in the update to come, but you need to know that during the party the following happened:
THERE WAS A CONCERT
and this was the line up, all in honor of my about to be alone in a hospitall....

The to-die-for (and very good friend) Ashley Cleveland (and band) played the Stones and Stevie Wonder....

Our pal, Italian Woody Allen, and genuinely profane saint Nick Giaconia played "Moses" from the PRISM album....

Our dear friend Pierce Pettis (who was there with his wife Michelle) played a three song set, including a new, un-released song and my favorite of his songs of all time, "Jim Brown."

And finally... early '90s (way ahead of their time) alterna-rockers Chagall Guevera played live for the first time in 13 years.

That's right music fans, Chagall reunited.

At my party!

Holy Moses it was something else.

Chagall has been asked to get together several times and not for chump change either, but they've turned them all down.

Instead, they played at my party.

Like I said, this was a humbling thing.

And very, very cool....

There's so much more to tell you, but for now I'll just leave it that we were overcome by kindness at every turn.

And that we met Steve and Debbie Taylor's new little girl, Sarah, adopted from Africa just a few months ago. She is 7 and I am in love, and Sheri doesn't mind a bit.

Since the trip, we've been trying to recover and ready ourselves for our own party this weekend when we'll see even more friends, including my nephews and my best friend from Jr. High and High School.

Pretty cool, huh?

I'll write more soon. In the meantime, however, thanks to all involved in making the last week so good.

We love you.

dwight

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