As one should be able to surmise from the previous postings we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Florida which on a regular trip would make leaving a melancholy experience but since we were getting to continue our vacation leaving wasn't too bad.
To state the obvious Florida and D.C. are not very close, nor do they have much in common so it seems a little odd they would both be included in one trip (unless you are a foreigner traveling to the U.S. - in that case it's perfectly normal to hit all the vacation destinations in one swoop...). Our reason for ending up in the second of the two vacation locales is because Philip was a match and called to donate bone marrow and Georgetown University hospital is where they did the procedure.
How did he even come to be a donor?
Ten years ago while still in the Navy there was drive at work to get on the national bone marrow donor list (medical Trivial Pursuit question - yes, I know they don't have a medical Trivial Pursuit edition but they should because for crying out loud they have a very complex Lord of the Rings version - the members from Department of Defense are the largest population on the bone marrow list) so Philip sat down, had his cheek swabbed, and just like that became a potential donor.
Two years ago they called and said he was a possible match but after the initial bloodwork they found someone to be a more compatible match (there are 10 proteins that need to match up and 10/10 is idea for a successful bone marrow transfusion). This time though the bloodwork came back as an excellent match so he headed out to D.C. for a physical, was medically cleared, and the donation was scheduled. Due to our work schedules it was just easier to vacation either before or after the donation so we did.
Anyway, on Tuesday we flew into D.C. and did a little sightseeing on the mall before Philip was out of commission the next day.
WW 2 Memorial
D.C. is such a great place to visit with so many iconic memorials, monuments, museums, and sights to see. It's really inspiring to be reminded of the amazing people who were progressive and passionate enough to found our great country with values and freedoms we can still thank them for today.
It's also a place that makes you mindful of the sacrifices so many have made to maintain and spread freedom while keeping our nation safe.
I went once with my family at age 17 so this was my second trip (which means I go about every 17 years - haha) and while I had seen most of D.C. before it was just as impressive this go-round.
The downside to our first night of sight-seeing was while we were at the Lincoln Memorial it began to rain and rain hard. We tried to wait it out but it just kept coming down. In addition to that the many cabs that line the streets of the mall had disappeared. Seriously, for 15 minutes at least we were just caught in the middle of a downpour traipsing up and down the mall with two kids searching for a cab. Luckily the temperature was comfortable and our sweet little ones were good sports about being soaked.
(It got much worse than this - our clothes took 3 days to dry laying flat.)
We finally found a cab (after Philip and Annie got to ride in a bicycle rickshaw which she loved and he feared for their safety multiple times) and made it back to the hotel.
Wednesday morning was the day of the donation. Philip and I went over to the hospital (literally across the parking lot), while my kind parents who had volunteered to come help out with Annie and Denver stayed at the hotel with them.
After Philip was taken back for his procedure the rest of us had breakfast and then the grandparents took Annie to the Smithsonian Air and Space museum (she love love loves museums and had been asking to go to one since our first day of vacation) while Denver and I checked on Philip.
The procedure took about 2 hours. Philip was then moved to recovery where he was like most people right after general anesthesia, awake but a little groggy. The surgery consisted of making two small incisions on his lower back and using a little drill to withdraw it from his hips. Upon waking he had what he described as a little discomfort but not a lot of pain.
The physician in charge of the program (who was also the one who did Philip's procedure) told me beforehand that as soon as the marrow was collected (they get different amounts based on the size and weight of the one needing it with a maximum donation being 1500 mls - Philip gave 1300 mls) it gets processed and is infused into the recipient within 24 hours.
What did Philip know about the recipient?
That he was a 20 year-old male with lymphoblastic leukemia somewhere in the continental US (the bone marrow is courried all over the world). That's all the information given at this point. After a month Philip will be given an update on how the recipient is doing, another update at six months, and then at a year they can both release their information to identify themselves if they choose.
A few people have asked what made Philip or anyone want to do this because it is said to be very painful. However, when you view it the way Philip does as a means of having something you can use to help someone it doesn't seem right not to do it. He had been wanting to match since he got on the list because, really, what an honor to get a chance to do it.
As the day went on Denver and I stayed at his bedside while he recovered nicely and Annie, Nana, and Papa hit up another Smithsonian this one being the Natural History Museum.
Due to the amount he gave he had to stay overnight so we delivered him a tasty dinner from room service at our hotel (because hospital food regardless of how hard they try still looks like and tastes like hospital food) and we went out to eat with two worn out kiddos. They did perk up when this came to the table:
Philip was released the next morning with a few restrictions and recommendations - one being to walk around some, so we headed out to Arlington National Cemetery. Here we could walk and ride a tram part of the time.
From there we decided to tour the Capital and Library of Congress. Here you can see we this little girl was clearly not impressed with the current political climate at the Capital or was just tired of messing with her headset.
- A cute side story: prior to going we had explained to Annie that we'd be going to Washington, D.C. where the president lived so Daddy could help someone by giving them blood - at some point this translated in Annie's mind into saving the President's son of which the current president has none, and is something we had to clarify more than once when Annie had spoken to someone and they asked us about our trip.-
We then ate dinner at a steakhouse (Philip needed iron-rich food to replace what was donated!) and because of the heavy meal decided to visit one more site before calling it a day so we headed over to the Roosevelt monument.
We didn't stop there though (as we should have because walking 8 miles the day after a bone marrow donation is not idea) because it looked so close (but in all actuality was not) we finished up our day by walking over to the Jefferson Memorial. The following photos were all taken by Annie because I was holding her sleeping brother.
As the sun began to set we headed back to our hotel, exhausted and a little sore but pleased to have been able to see these great tributes and places of national recognition.