Update 13, Sunday, June 25, 2006 LAST NEXT
Whooosh! What an ordeal! The good news is that despite having a slightly lower number than required for apheresis I was put on the machine at about 12:40, Tuesday afternoon. At about 11:00am I was told I would have to wait until 2:00pm to find out if it was a go but at noon the action started. As well as the blood lines I was put on an IV with a citrate solution as an anti-coagulant and a calcium replacement solution. I also was trying to put down as much calcium rich food and drink that I could handle. Not an easy task. The dosages were monitored and altered here and there as the day went on.
Here's a sort of play by play. The overall target to harvest was 183 million stem cells. 0.5ml samples were taken at 2:15, 3:25, 4:30, 5:40 and 6:40. Amounts collected, cumulatively, were 26 million, 68, 95, 103 and 163(!!), the final amount I found out about on Wednesday morning. So I was nearly there. It was a pretty boring day with no visitors (not that I was expecting any) and the last hour or so was particularly brutal. I just felt like crap. And a couple weeks ago they said that I should feel that same when I'm done as when I start. They LIED! Throughout I pretty well had to sit up because otherwise I couldn't breathe all that well likely because of all the fluid accumulation. I gained about 10 pounds in that 6 hours. My oxygen levels had dropped below 90% which is the point where I was put on an oxygen line. You know, those little plastic tubey thingys? Now, I have to say that the staff has been just fantastic at the BMT, Units 57A and B and the Apheresis Unit on the 4th floor but, on Tuesday I night I got my first dud. Oh man! I'll be kind and say no more except that I hope not to encounter this one again! There are actually 114 different nurses on staff in Units 57A and B so I'm thinking the odds are in my favour.
Sam drove in from Red Deer on Tuesday night and brought Betty to the Unit at about 10:00am. I had called earlier for them to bring a few supplies in case I had to stay another night. What a nice visit! Sam brought me a little teddy bear and a Winnie the Pooh 'Feeling Wobbly?' balloon. Cute. I'd been on the machine since 9:20. Laurel came in at noon with a portable DVD player to borrow, some disks of theirs and a gift (!) of the Santana "Live By Request" disk. Thanks so much, Lau. We got a few pictures and some video including a rundown of what the apheresis machine does by Neil, the nurse, who it turns out knew Laurel from Grande Prairie as his mortgage broker!! Small world. It was another long day albeit an hour shorter. Still, the last 1 1/2 hours were very tedious. At second last count, 63,000,000 stem cells had been collected and altogether for the two days, 35 litres of my blood had been processed! I still haven't been able to get a final count but I know there are enough for at least two transplants and you know what that means! Yes I'm smilin'!!! The future looks bright. Ill just have to get through that high dose chemo coming up in a couple weeks.
I was hoping to go home Wednesday evening but no such luck. I was even all packed up with Garth and Betty there to chauffer the me and car home. But, I was coughing a lot, and therefore required another chest x-ray which only happened at about 10:00pm. This time the nurse told me that I would be spared the midnight and 4:00am vitals hookup but again, she lied! Well, the 4am became 5am instead. Anyway, my potassium levels have been all over the place so the dosage has been also. I was put on an IV potassium drip for about 2 and a half hours Thursday morning. Dr Chaudhry told me I'd be discharged, my lungs were clear, and I finally drove left for home at 1:30pm. Next stop - BMT on Tuesday for bloodwork, CVC flush, dressing change, chest x-ray, nursing and physician assessment and a review of the transplant process.
By the way, I asked before the chemo on June 8 when I would expect to see some hair loss and I was told about 2 weeks after. I haven't noticed any yet.
Also, tomorrow night, Lisa's mother, AKA Betty, Mom, Nan, Nurse Betty and Ma, will be flying the Red Eye back to PEI after being with us since mid May. Betty... Lisa, Jesse, Sam and I want to thank you deeply from the bottom of our hearts for being here for us in this difficult time. You've been just great for picking up all of the slack (and the laundry) in such pro fashion. We love you and appreciate your caregiving sooooooooooo much. We don't know quite what we would have done without you. Bon voyage!
Monday, June 26 Final stem cell count:: 224 million collected. Not enough for 2 transplants. I'll explain in a couple days. We're seeing Dr. Bahlis tomorrow.