Health It's Just A Cheek Swab

Part 6: How Many Pregnancy Tests Are We Talking About Here?

Read Part 5 here:

Early January 2014

Towards the end of my trip to Florida, I got an email from Ana letting me know I was scheduled for a pregnancy test on Monday, January 5th. My second urinalysis had come back fine and I was officially medically cleared to donate. As much as I expected it, my first reaction was increased heart rate and “omgomgomg.” My second reaction was, “Pregnancy test? Really? You know I’m almost 45 and have 4 children the youngest of whom is 9, right?”

Ana was patient and lovely with me, explaining that pregnant women can’t take Neupogen and can’t donate. I knew all of this and had no intention of becoming pregnant (ever again!) but still. If you know me, you know that for me to even have the thought of a pregnancy in my brain is almost more than I can handle. Not very Zengirl, I know, but there it is.

I spent the rest of my time in Florida thinking about my super duper state of health, and felt grateful. Grateful and almost not worthy of the blessing of such beautiful health since I knew how badly I had neglected myself lately. It is a strange and frustrating paradox known to yoga teachers as the Teach More Practice Less phenomenon. As I have picked up more students to teach, my own yoga practice has suffered greatly. As my yoga practice suffers so does all of my other self care, like eating well, sleeping well, being gentle and nurturing towards that body I live in. You know, all of the things that a yoga therapist such as myself would “prescribe” to clients for long term well being. Yeah, not doing any of that. Knowing that I am healthy enough to help another gave me great joy, but knowing also that I wasn’t doing my part made me feel guilty and apologetic towards my body.

We arrived home at 9:30 am Monday morning and after picking up a school uniform from the house, I drove my darling dancer to school and then took myself to my pregnancy test. As usual the wonderful lab people knew I was coming thanks to Ana. I was in and out in a flash, still internally rolling my eyes about the whole idea of me being pregnant.

A few hours later I got another email from Ana confirming my next pregnancy test for Thursday, January 8 which was yes, three days later. I didn’t laugh…ok I did. After I stopped laughing I asked her how many more times I’d be tested and she said that since I was starting the Neupogen on Monday (what? Monday? Already?) I would get a call from Lindsey, Ana’s supervisor on Saturday night asking me one last time if I was pregnant. I am sure I had some snarky response at the tip of my tongue but whatever it was I let it float away unsaid as the reality of Monday and “donation week” was truly approaching.

The package containing the Neupogen, meant to stimulate my body’s production of stem cells, would arrive to my office on Thursday also. The vials needed to be refrigerated and I would bring them with me when I received my first injection. The 2nd through 4th injections would take place at my office. The 5th and final injection would take place on Friday, January 16, before the donation began.

The last thing Ana said in the phone call was that I should take extra good care of myself for the next week. While I was getting ready for the Neupogen and the donation, at this point so would be my recipient. He was beginning, or had already begun, the process of intense chemotherapy and radiation that would kill his own stem cells, effectively destroying his own immune system. If for any reason I could not or would not donate after that point, my recipient would die. He would die.

That night, I thought of Cousin Bob, wherever he was, and I cried myself to sleep.

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About the author

Alyssa Gilbert

Alyssa Gilbert

Alyssa lives in the Five Towns with her husband, four kids, 2 dogs and a cat. She loves all things zen and yoga and has just finished school to become a PT.

Alyssa encourages everyone to get their cheeks swabbed and potentially save another's life. For more info, please visit

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