Thursday, July 20, 2017

This is my blog after stem cell transplant on Wednesday. Any questions?

This is the container my stem cells were delivered in.

This is the bathing area for my stem cells.
This is the nurse taking said stem cells from carrying container and placing them in bathing area.

This is the stem cells getting a bath.
This is Bill Wilms and Brendan Batchelor doing play-by-play on the whole procedure. (OK. Joking. That's the guys from an old Giants game at the Pacific Coliseum.)

I feel gross.
I feel blah. I feel bloated. 
I had my stem cell transplant yesterday to combat my second cancer occurrence and I'd love to tell you that I feel like a brand new guy and I'm super positive but I'm back on the steroids and they simply don't agree with me. I'm a cranky twit right now. And apparently I'm writing really, really, really long sentences.
And I do realize that there are a lot of people a lot worse off than me right now. I'm not saying I'm right. I'm just trying to be honest.
I'm carrying five or six pounds of extra water weight already, and I've got three more days of this. Part of my bitchiness is that I lost 100 pounds in 2013-14, in large part because I knew that the cancer was coming back after the solitary plasmacytoma that showed up in my spine in 2010 and led to eight operations and six months in hospital. 
The B.C. Cancer people were blunt about a recurrence, and I knew I needed to better prepared.  I just don't like the idea of getting larger again. I was already up probably 15 pounds from where I want to be, but that probably shouldn't be too surprising since I've been largely inactive since the diagnosis of a tumour in my left leg in February and the fourth months of chemo that prepped me for the stem cell stuff this week.  
Luckily for me, a fantasy baseball pool buddy's wife has went through a similar procedure before and said she put on something like 15 pounds in the early stages of recovering from stem cell but dropped it quickly. I'm trying to stick to that.
I had a Hickman Line inserted in my chest on Friday. Thirty-minute procedure, local anesthetic. Wikipedia describes the Hickman as a "central venous catheter most often used for the administration of chemotherapy or other medications as well as for the withdrawal of blood for analysis."
It has three prongs dangling off it, so they draw out blood and add medication at the same time. It's more a hassle than painful right now, but I realize that all the poking and prodding would mess up my veins. And, to be blunt, my chest modelling days ended long ago.
They used Hickman for the major chemo blast on Tuesday that wiped out my immune system, and for the stem cell transplant yesterday. There was extensive prep with drugs to counterattack side effects yesterday, but the actual transplant took about 25 minutes. On one hand it was anticlimactic. On the other, a doctor and a nurse were by the bed the whole time, just in case there were issues. And they monitored me for two hours afterward.
The plan is to do the whole thing as an out patient, and they've told us that over 70 per cent of their patients manage to do that. They find the patient morale is better and they're less susceptible to infection, which is the major concern. (Lot of sick people in hospital that you can catch stuff from apparently.)
They did a stem cell harvesting a couple of weeks ago. I laid in bed for six hours, a big massive needle in my left arm and a smaller needle my right. They tell you beforehand that you should avoid moving your left arm. The needle is so big that I could not move my left arm. They take out blood, have a machine that collects some stem cells, and then put some blood back in. (I know. That's a terribly basic report. But I blanked out when I couldn't move my left arm. Sorry.)
For the record, the stem cell people have been amazing. The office staff have gone out of their way to make sure all the appointments fit with other parts of my schedule, and the nurses have been absolutely superb at making sure we understand exactly what's going on before it starts going on. We've been so lucky since being first diagnosed in 2010. I know you see a lot of bad stories in the newspapers (damn media) about hospital care, but our experience has been first rate throughout. 
And Carol-Ann has been Carol-Ann, which is to say she's captaining our little team perfectly. No surprise. I know. She props me up and sends me out into the world every day, feeling like we've got this handled. She's the best. She's buffed up the house, with help from the likes of our good friend Susie. It's never looked better. And Carol-Ann has Googled and read and researched and there's a long list of can do's and can't do's and I'm going to abide by them all since I know what's good for me.
We've been told a couple of times that I shouldn't start feeling really crappy until the weekend. We've been told it's like having the flu or a general malaise. Worse case? Your mouth gets infected and swollen and you have trouble eating. I have a mouth wash that I'm swigging twice a day now to try to fight that off. There's also a good chance that I might need a blood transfusion or two. We drive in to VGH every other day for the next three weeks to a month to get tested.
Hopefully that's it. And hopefully I'm not a cranky moron the next time I blog.

1 comment:

  1. Steve, Carol-Ann is obviously right - you've got this handled. You two will defeat this again - 2 for 0. Do I have the sports language right? I never know. Keep writing - you write beautifully and honestly, and a whole lot of people are rooting for you.