After your bone marrow transplant
On this page, you will learn about what to expect as your heal, adjusting to your new normal and more. For more information on what blood and marrow transplants are, and what to expect before and during your transplant, please visit the following pages below:
What should I expect as I heal?
After your new cells engraft, your blood cell counts will get better (your immune system is stronger). After discharge from the hospital you will be seen in the outpatient clinic often and you may need blood and platelet transfusions. Because of this need you will most likely be discharged with your central line catheter still in place.
Your risk for health problems will be very high for 3–6 months after transplant, depending which type of transplant you get. We will continue to care for you and watch for infections and other problems during this time. We will teach what you can do to help prevent infections. If you have any sign of infection, call your doctor right away.
You play an important role in your own health care. When you leave the hospital, you will need to:
- Follow our instructions closely. This will lower your risk for infection and other health problems that could threaten your life.
- Take all your medicines exactly as ordered.
- Eat healthy foods. Follow our instructions for safe eating and food handling. This will lower your infection risk and help you get your strength.
- Keep your follow-up appointments in clinic.
Balancing rest and activity
Since you will likely feel very tired, your caregiver will help with your daily needs. Here are some things you can do to heal and to get your strength back:
- Get enough rest. You will be tired because your body will work hard to heal from the transplant.
- Get some exercise every day, as you are able. You will slowly get stronger and be able to do more. Try to do a little more each day.
- Be patient with yourself. Increase your activity slowly.
In the first weeks or months after you leave the hospital, you will go to the outpatient clinic often – at least once or twice a week. If you live more than 1 hour from Markey, expect to stay in Lexington for at least 30 days after autologous transplant OR for 100 days after allogeneic transplant. During this time, we will need to check your labs often and deal with any other health problems you may have. You and your transplant doctor will decide when it is safe for you to return home. How long you will stay in Lexington depends on your health and your type of transplant.
When coming to the clinic for your appointment, please remember to bring all of the medicines you are taking with you. You transplant team will want to see your medicine bottles to know what you are taking, and to make sure you are taking your medicines correctly.
If you will need to stay in Lexington, our discharge planner and social workers will try their best to help you find short-term housing. Most patients will stay at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, though this option will be based on availability and patient need. The Hope Lodge is located just blocks away from Markey. It provides transportation to and from your clinic visits. The Lodge has a full kitchen, laundry facilities, library, and a community dining room. There is 24-hour security. Volunteers host an array of events, from game nights to free dinners. Only one guest may stay with you overnight.
How to adjust to new normal
Once you have recovered from transplant, you can begin to resume your normal life and activities. You and your transplant doctor will talk often to decide when it is safe for you to return to work or school. You need to remember that it will take time for you to feel like yourself again.
Every patient is different
The time it takes to heal from transplant varies from patient to patient. Most patients take a few months to recover, while others may need more or less time. The time right after your transplant is a time of cell growth and recovery. Your body will be making new blood cells and repairing normal cells that were damaged during chemo.
You may have to come back to the hospital several times while you heal so your transplant doctor can watch you closely. This is all part of the recovery process.
This healing process takes a lot of energy and requires you to use a lot of calories. Please know that it is normal to feel weak or tired during the months after transplant. You will need to balance activity with rest until you regain your strength. You will also need to eat meals high in protein and calories.
A life-changing experience
It may take you a long time to heal, and you may not be able to do everything you could before transplant. However, most transplant patients report a stronger appreciation for life. The transplant process allows many patients to rediscover their faith, build stronger connections with family and friends, and take things one day at a time.
If you find you are having issues adjusting to life after transplant, consider talking to one of our Markey counselors. It is important to know you are not alone at any time in this process. Your team at Markey Cancer Center is always here to help.
To change an appointment or check on an appointment time, please call the BMT Clinic. Speak to the appointment secretary. If no one answers, please leave a message on the answering machine. The BMT Clinic is open Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
Important phone numbers:
Please call if you have questions or are in doubt about anything.
- BMT Clinic, Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.: (866) 340-4488 (toll-free) or (859) 257-4488 (local)
- BMT Inpatient Unit: (859) 218-7936
- BMT Doctor’s Office: (859) 257-6006
- Nights (after 5 p.m.), weekends or holidays: (859) 323-5321 and ask for the BMT doctor on call
Information to have ready when you call:
- Patient name.
- Diagnosis (health problem that required transplant).
- Current health problem and how long it has lasted.
- Last blood count results (hemoglobin, platelet count, white blood count).
- Date of last chemo treatment, or transplant.
- Type of chemo (drug name) or transplant.