Well quite a bit since my last entry.
I'm finding that Stem Cell Harvesting is quite different from other kinds of harvesting. Right. This one you get to do lying down. But first you get a couple of really different drugs. Which come with lots of pages of warning about side effects and ugly "Can Happen" stuff.
So since last Friday, each morning I've had the pleasure (?) of injecting myself with a drug called Neupogen. Which arrived last week, in a package of 12 pre-loaded syringes. Just the thing for somebody like me with a needle phobia. In all my years on this earth, not once have I ever seen a needle pierce my skin. Whenever somebody arrives in my presence with a syringe, I look the other way and shut my eyes and hope it doesn't hurt too bad. You cannot imagine the horror I felt when I read through the part where they told me I get to inject myself. Wunnerful. Now I get to do this -- twice -- each morning since last Friday.
Well last Friday I managed to do it the first time -- after more than an hour of trembling and so on. Turned out to be not so very horrible, after all. I lived through it. Twice. And then again on Saturday morning. And Sunday morning. And yesterday morning. And then again this morning.
Well the world doesn't have to worry about my ever becoming a drug addict -- I'm still deathly afraid of needles. But I realize that in order to get a stem cell transplant, I first have to supply those stem cells. And to do that requires that I Kick the internal stem cell production mechanics in my bone marrow into overdrive, with this Neupogen. So I pulled up my big boy pants and did it. But hope I never have to do this again.
Fortunately, I did not experience any of the potential side effects that were described in the literature. Except they didn't list "terror at having to do self-injections" in that literature. I guess that's obvious and goes without saying <g>
Anyhow, after the successful conclusion of four days of Neupogen self-injections, yesterday evening I presented myself to the outpatient stem cell clinic at the University of Chicago Hospital, to get an injection of another drug, Mozibil, which will stimulate that bumper crop of Stem Cells now crowding my bone marrow, into circulating into my bloodstream. That injection came with another list of warnings and potential side effects. So they kept me there for about an hour, to see if I exhibited any major side effects. Fortunately not, so they let me return to my lodging and I then had a quiet evening, without further ado.
And then this morning it was back to the Hospital again, to begin the harvest. Essentially, they stick a needle into each arm. BIG needles. Wunnerful. One for output, and the other for input. Then they hook those two lines up to a machine. My blood then comes of one arm, circulates through a machine, and it collects the stem cells, and then returns everything else to the other arm. Sounds easy. So just lie there and let the machine do it's thing. And don't bend either arm lest you disturb the needles therein.
Sounds like a piece of cake. "How long do we stay hooked up like this?" He asks. ?WHAT?? For SIX Fricking Hours ???" Didja ever try to lie still for six hours, without bending either elbow? My nose itches. Sorry stay still. About the longest six hours I've ever experienced. But after what seemed like an eternity, they finally said, "Well we're done -- let's see what our harvest has collected."
Well it turns out we only got about half what they need for next week's transplant, so I'm going to have the pleasure of doing this all over again tomorrow. Wunnerful.
So now sitting here waiting for another Mozibil injection this evening, and looking forwards (?) to repeating the entire exercise again tomorrow. Sigh.
But many others have gone through this same experience and lived to tell about it, so I guess I can too. I suppose in a few weeks I'll look back on this experience as just one more step in the long journey. Maybe <g>
Enough for today.
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