Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Transplant Guardian: My May Cancer Peep


Biel’s first shift with me was the second day of my conditioning regimen prior to my umbilical cord stem cell transplant. Biel and I got off to a rough start because she answered my dad’s questions which kept her present longer than necessary, and she made me follow the hospital rules and shower, which required my movement. I cared little for friendly conversation or attractive nurses tending to me.

That didn’t last long.

Biel became my primary nurse, and as my energy returned I took stalkerish notice of her. With little else to do on my journey towards 65 consecutive days in my hospital room, I cracked Biel’s life story.

Biel wore casual sneakers, simple scrubs, and smiled constantly. Her straight brown hair complemented her complexion and relaxed speech. This triggered my alarm—nobody that chill would be working on a pediatric transplant unit. I considered whether she was a spy ordered to keep a watchful eye on another transplantee’s father. The University of Minnesota was a premiere establishment worthy of a foreign agent’s presence, had that foreign agent fathered a leukemia-ridden child.

But I couldn't venture from my room to check around, and my dad was a poor detective. That left me concluding Biel was spying on me to research my survival methods. I needed to discover what she wanted from me. Whatever it was, I was sure she would take it while assisting my bone marrow biopsy while I was under conscious sedation.

Before the procedure I was torn between remaining awake to investigate Biel, or receive Versed and fentanyl, my conscious sedation medications. The drugs got the best of me. Biel secured my bone marrow sample and whatever else she was looking for without my opposition. I made it too easy.

To this day I wonder which of my obscure organs Biel stole and in what way it was researched. Perhaps she implanted a tracker in me. If the knowledge stays in-State then I’m content, but not if she is a double agent. Except for Canada. I love (reduced-sugar) maple syrup.

I bumped into Biel a couple times after my discharge, as well as years later during a follow-up visit. But her smile had a hold on me, and just before I questioned her research intentions, I lost my trail of thought. Though I may never know which organ I’m missing or how I’m being tracked, my conviction tells me to trust her.

Biel was an exceptional nurse and a spark during my long hospital days. She is now married and nurses in California—at least according to our email correspondence and her Facebook profile. But Zuckerberg and I  know the truth and are waiting for her to unleash her research on the world. Watch out, all you transplant children under her watchful care. Don’t get too comfortable around one of my all-time favorite nurses.

University of Minnesota pediatric bone marrow transplant nurse