One Step Closer to Becoming a Transformer

Eric's Journal
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Today was the big day.  This morning I came to Froedtert Lutheran Memorial Hospital for my total hip replacement on my right side.  A lot of you might be asking, “Why the heck does a 26 year old need a total hip replacement?!”  Just for informational purposes, I’ll give some back story.

It all started back in 2003 when I had my first bone marrow transplant from my older brother, Mike.  The reason I needed a bone marrow transplant is because my bone marrow was producing leukemic cells/blasts.  After a transplant, I inherit the donor’s bone marrow.  The process itself involves a ton of chemotherapy and radiation to kill off the cancer cells along with my bone marrow.   By killing off the bone marrow I completely lose my ability to produce my own red and white blood cells.  Therefore, they gave me stem cells from my donor.  Those stem cells are kind of like seeds.  They found their way into my bones, which were missing bone marrow, and began growing the bone marrow of my donor.   The end result is that my body now produces red and white blood cells identical to my donor.  One of the inherent problems or risks with all of this is something called graft versus host disease.  In short, graft versus host disease is a condition when my entire immune system no longer recognizes my body as being it’s own.  This is the inverse of when someone were to get an organ transplant.  The organ would no longer be recognized by that person’s immune system and the immune system would begin attacking the foreign object.  In my case, my entire body was now the foreign object…not good.

To prevent this graft versus host disease from occurring, the doctors prescribe steroids and immune suppressant drugs to kind of retard the donated white blood cells in my body.  By making the white blood cells dumber, we decrease the likelihood that those cells will go to war with my body.   Here’s where the story comes full circle.  The drugs that I have been taking on and off over the past eight years also have a small chance to cause something called avascular necrosis.  This is a condition when the blood supply is cut off to certain parts of bones in the body.  In my case, it was the femoral heads of my femur bone.  This is the ball of the ball-and-socket joint in my hip.  The lack of blood supply killed the bone and over the past year or so, the head of my femur has been cracking and crumbling.  Everyone’s hip bones crack like this, except when you have normal blood supply to those bones, they heal rapidly.  Mine had finally gotten to the point where it was causing me quite severe pain and totally prevented me from being able to do any amount of physical activity.  Therefore, the hip surgery had to happen.

I arrived at the hospital this morning at 6:15am.  The surgery itself was scheduled for 8:15.  I had all kind of people coming in and out of my room asking me pre-op kind of questions.  It got a tad overbearing and felt like a lot of it was really unnecessary.  My parents came down to take me.  Shortly after I arrived at the hospital, my fiancée, Cari, walked in to give me her support as well.  As we sat and talked, another gentleman by the name of Mr. Larry Hisle walked in.  It was wonderful to have four people that I love all in the room with me before I went in.

The surgery lasted about three and a half hours.  I woke up in a daze and was already in quite a lot of pain.  I laid there in the recovery room while they prepared my room upstairs where I will be staying the remainder of the weekend.  Within an hour or so, they carted me upstairs to my room where my family, now including my sister, Lindsey, was waiting for me.  As I laid in my bed I remembered that I asked one of the anesthesiologist assistants to take some pictures for me during the operation.  The cool story is that the assistant, who is guy my age/height/hair color, was my nurse on the bone marrow transplant unit three years ago!  Anyway, here are two of the pictures,  If you don’t like blood/bones, continue reading and do not click the links below…this is my disclaimer.  The first image is of the top part of the femur that they cut off.  The second image is that same bone but with some of the severely damaged cartilage peeled back revealing the cracked bone beneath.  I just got the image of the prosthesis from radiology.  Check out the end result below.

Overall, I guess I am doing okay.  I’m puking quite a bit and can’t seem to keep anything down, even fluids.  I’m 99% sure this is because of all of the general anesthesia I had along with the narcotics that I have been on all day.  I stopped taking pain medication to alleviate this nausea in hopes that I will be able to be more comfortable from that perspective.  To be honest, I can handle bad pain better than I can handle feeling nauseous and sick.

Well, it’s getting late and I haven’t gotten much sleep at all today because nurses and doctors won’t leave me alone…time for bed.

Love you all,