Journal entry by Dave Clark

Well it's taken me a bit more time to get back to this journal than planned, since my last entry two weeks back.  Here's a quick recap on what's transpired since ...

Monday October 1 -- Arrive at University of Chicago Hospital, "Center for Care and DIscovery" in the mid-afternoon.  Have a "Tunnel Veinous Catheter" installed (inserted).  This is a major largish tube, which is inserted just below my right clavicle, and then goes up and across under my skin, and then inserts into a major vein which goes down into my chest from there.  What with all drugs to be inserted into me, and blood samples to be taken out of me, this puppy will serve all those purposes and remove the need to so many needle sticks in the coming days.  A mixed blessing, but worth the effort.  Only minor discomfort -- the sedative used left me without a care in the world for the rest of the day.  Settled into my inpatient room on the 10the floor, overlooking Lake Michigan from Hyde Park here in Chicago.  Magnificent  view.

Tuesday October 2nd -- First major step.  At 2:00 PM they start me chewing ice chips, to chill the lining of my mouth.  Then at 2:30 PM they administer the dose of what I call the "Chemo-Whammy", a drug called Malphalan (sp?), which will essentially kill off whatever occupies my bone marrow spaces.  And unavoidably, also denude much of the linimg of my GI tract, which will subsequently likely lead to, " ... a sigificant amount of internal discomfort and distress ...", sayeth the literature.  During the administration of this drug, and for the following six full hours, I will continue to chew on ice chips and popsicles and anything similarly cold, to keep the lining of my mouth cold so as to prevent the development of mouth sores.  Now there's a six and a half hour experience I don't care to have to repeat any time soon.   But seems to have accomplished the desires result, here a week later I don't  have any mouth sores.

About 9 PM I finally got something to eat.  Found my mouth was so numb that I'd bitten the insides of my lips and cheeks in several places.  Oh well.  Food tasted good.

Wednesday Ocbober 3rd, 2:30 AM -- the vomiting begins.  Accompanied by shakes and chills.  The next 18 hours were pretty much of a blur, with attempts using various drugs to bring the incessant nausea under control so that I could at least get some sleep.  By very early Thursday morning they finally found a combination of anti-nausea drugs that kept the vomiting mostly at bay, and I was able to get some sporadic sleep through the morning hours of Thursday.  No food intake whatsoever during this period.  Whatever I tried, came right back up.

Thursday October 4th, 10:37 AM CDT -- "Happy Re-Birthday to Me, Happy Re-Birthday to Me, Happy Re-Birthday Dear David, Happy Re-Birthday to Me".   My original appearance on this earth was at 5:56 AM CST on Saturday February 3rd, 1945.  And my Re-Birth took place at 10:37 AM CDT on Thursday October 4h, 2018.  That's the date and time that the stem cells harvested from me the preceding week were re-introduced into my system, where they are now merrily working to re-build my bone marrow contents to that they should be.   But there's a long road between that re-introduction, and eventual arrival at a stable situation where I can conduct a normal life.

The Stem Cell Re-Introduction process was pretty much of an anti-climax.  No noticeable side effects, and only took about 15 mins.  But inasmuch as I was still dealiing with bouts of queasiness and occasional vomiting, for the next day and a half my focus was predominately on when the the next ant-nausea meds would be coming, and trying to get some fitful rest between those bouts.

Saturday October 6th, Afternoon -- My daughter Evvie and her husband Jeff Dropped by for a visit -- and arrived with -- a Wendy's Large Frostie !!!  Ambrosia in a large cup with a spoon.   What heaven that was.  It all went down smooth and comfortably, and didn't even hint that it might wanna come back up again.  At the conclusion of that visit (and of the Frostie),  was definitely ready for a comfortable snooze.   The high spot of the day, beyond a doubt. 

Before and after that outstanding highlight, continued dealing with periodic bouts of queasiness and occasional light vomiting.  However, one bright spot -- the diarrhea they've all warned me to expect, hadn't shown up yet.  Fingers crossed it stays away, or only treads lightly.

Sunday October 7th, Afternoon -- Evvie and Jeff dropped by again, and this time in addition to another Wendy's Large Frostie, they also brought an entire Portillo's Chocolate Cake.   For those of you outside the Greater Chicago Metropolitan area, describing Portillo's Chocolate Cake is going to be impossible.  Rich but light, Fluffy but creamy -- not the least bit heavy at all.   Went down with the Frostie like there was no tomorrow.   Of course the majority went to the nursing staff here, but they insisted I have a good sized piece.  Yes I was in Heaven Sunday afternoon.   Another highlight of the weekend.

Still having occasional bouts with queasiness and a couple of light vomiting episodes, but quickly brought under control with anti-nausea meds.  Again slept a large part of the day and night away. 

Monday October 8th -- At morning rounds today the Dr's tell me that my White counts and Platelet counts are now clearly dropping, which is an expected trend.  Pleasingly, my Red Counts and Hemoglobin levels are holding up, so it looks like I'll be able to get through this stem cell transplant recovery without needing Packed Red blood cells transfusions, as I did during the early stages of Chemotherapy back in May/June.  That's good news.  GI tract activity is better than expected, with little sign of diarrhea yet.  Really hoping we can skate past that part.  Found that Uber-Eats can deliver a McDonalds Large Chocolate Shake right here to the hospital for me.  Closest thing to a Wendy's Frostie available, and went down just as good. 

Another highlight today -- I TOOK A SHOWER !!!  then dressed in real clothes, instead of the double undignified hospital gowns I'd had on the preceding week.  Feeling a bit more like a human being, after all that.

The past 3 days, after taking some of the anti-nausea meds, I've felt good enough to get up and walk the halls of the unit, have been logging between a half and three quarters of a mile each day, which gets me up and about and breathing a bit more heavily, which is all to the good.


Tuesday October 9th -- Today I stretched myself a bit and ordered a McDonalds Cheeseburger in addition to another Large Chocolate Shake from Uber-Eats, and found that combination went down well too.  White counts continuing to drop, so today they started me on some injections which should stimulate white cell production.  No negative side effects thereof, so far.

Still taking the various anti-nausea meds, as permitted.  Which keeps me sleeping a lot of the time.  Great way to pass to time, not much else to do around here except rest and heal, at this stage.

Well that about brings us up to date.  I'm roughly at the halfway point of the recovery process, currently at day +6 from my official ReBirthday last Thursday.

As an aside, when I packed up to spend these 2 weeks of so here in the hospital, I brought along framed pictures of some of my favorite action shots from Golfing and Kayaking and Water Skiing and Snow Ski Racing, and have set those up along the windows ledge here in my room.  Get interesting comments from the doctors and nurses and others who pass through my room every day, and also serve to remind my why I'm going through all this, so that I'll be back in shape to enjoy those activities again soon.  Also reminds me of the large numbers of friends out there with which I've enjoyed participating in those activties, and who are following this CaringBridge journal.  I think of you all often, and know that your continued love and support are helping sustain me through these trials.  I helps, a lot.   Thank you all.

Dave Clark

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