Some of the e-mails we have received from people expressing a desire to visit me while I am being treated at Johns Hopkins have made me realize that I haven't adequately explained the fact that I will not actually be admitted to the hospital until after the transplant has taken place, and then only if I get into serious trouble involving some sort of infection. The entire process leading up to, and including, the high-dose chemotherapy and the re-infusion of my stem cells, will be done on an outpatient basis. This method of doing an autologous stem cell transplant is relatively new; until less than a year ago, I would have been admitted to the hospital for at least part of the process. Hopkins has yet to update its patient training materials to reflect the new facts. Similarly, the description on the Hopkins web site of the IPOP clinic where the treatment takes place continues to make it sound as though I will definitely be in the hospital for part of the process, but this is no longer true.
Because the IPOP clinic is visited daily by patients with badly impaired or nonexistent immune systems, there are rules forbidding anyone but patients and their caregivers from being admitted to it. It even has its own HVAC system fitted with special HEPA filtering designed to reduce particulates in the air to a minimum; you can think of it as being a kind of medical "clean room". Obviously, allowing the general public to wander into and out of this environment is out of the question.
Depending on where I am in the process, I may be in IPOP for as many as twelve hours at a stretch. In any case, if I have any visitors, they won't be coming to the hospital, but rather to the Tremont Hotel, or wherever it is I will be staying at night; and most likely in the evenings, since the schedule for my daytime IPOP sessions will be difficult to predict.