It's Wednesday and I've been to the hospital every day this week, with plans to go again tomorrow. I look forward to the day I see that place in the rearview mirror for good!
Monday was a CBC- after packing a backpack full of things to do (just in case there was a repeat of the monster day of the last transfusion), I found out my hemoglobin was at 7.7 (not critical, I guess) and my white cells were up very high. So I was clear to go home! It was really nice to have a short appointment. It was kind of funny though that all the nurses and doctors knew about my terrible experience on Thursday with the blood transfusion. They were all apologetic and overly kind.
Tuesday was the scheduled stem-cell removal. I had plans to be driven by Adam at 12:30, until I received a phone call asking me to go in as soon as possible for a chest x-ray to determine the placement of the catheter. These appointments and last-minute changes are making it hard on my babysitters! I made it in early for the x-ray, which made me late for the stem cell appointment. It worked out though, I had to wait there for about 2 hours anyway! The most frustrating part of this was that the nurse never even looked at the x-ray! I was 1/2 way through the collection when the nurse asked me why I needed the x-ray. She said I didn't need it because she could look at the surgical notes to see the catheter was in the right place. I guess the x-ray was just to throw in an extra expense for my insurance to cover.
The actual extraction of stem-cells is amazing. Over the course of 4 hours the machine (in the pic) runs my entire body's volume of blood through it 3 times! The blood goes out of one tube of the catheter, into the machine where it is "washed," the stem cells are extracted (by weight), and sent into a little collection bag hanging above me. The rest of the blood is turned to my body through the second tube in my chest. By the end I was a little tired and bored after sitting in a chair for a few hours, but that's about it!
I was told to come back in the morning to see if I needed blood (sometimes the machine lowers hemoglobin counts) and if I didn't then I could go directly on the machine again. I would find out then if I had reached the collection goal of 5 million cells. Either way, I'd have to do day 2 of potential 5 just to make sure there was a back-up bag.
This morning I arrived and waited only 20 minutes before finding out my hemoglobin was fine (7.9) and not only had I reached my goal of 5, but had doubled it with 10 million cells! Yay! I was so excited not to have to come in for 5 days in a row! I was also told my white blood cells were up to 100, 000- nurses kept asking me if I was in pain! The Neupogen shots do cause a lot of bone pain but it's been gone for me during the past two days. Maybe my body gets used to it after a while? I still had to be hooked up for collection today for the back-up, but it wasn't too bad.
I go in again in the morning to see if my hemoglobin is high enough not to get blood (it dropped again by the end of collection to 6.3). Afterward, I am hoping to be free of doctor's visits until Monday morning when I go in for another CBC and to find out when I have the next chemo session, which will likely start next Wednesday. If all goes well I could be out on the 14th to recoup for 2 weeks with bi-weekly appointments for blood counts. During the second week I'll be scheduled another PET/CT scan for re-staging of the disease. Assuming the tests show I'm in remission, I'll go in for the long stem cell transplant around the 28-31st of January. Best case scenario: over with treatment around Valentine's Day! Then of course I have to deal with recovery... but I can DO that! I just want to hear the word "Remission!"
|This pic's just for the fun of it! :)|