Done with stem cell harvest

Kept meaning to post but never got around to it.  Well, the stem cell harvest is over, last one was yesterday.  Went in Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for it.  The goal is to get a total of 5 million per some-thing-or-other, Tuesday they got 1.7, Wednesday they got 2.4, so they had 4.1 for the first two days.  I don’t know how much they got on Thursday but definitely more than 5 total.  The machine that does it ispretty crazy, shitload of tubes and knobs and spinning thingers.  Like I told my dad, all it needs is a candy striper pole and a whistle and it’s like a willy wonka machine making hard candy or something.  I have two tubes coming off my new cath and the machine had 3 tubes connected to each of those, so ya 6 tubes total.

The blood they take out they add an anti-coagulant to, it’s metabolized quickly by the body but lowers your calcium.  Low calcium apparently makes parts of the body tingle, especially your lips they said.  It happened to my lips and the pads of my fingers, getting slightly tingly I mean.  They just set the iv pump thing to give me calcium from a hanging bag and it goes away.

The chair they had me sit in was kinda weird.  Seemed not that comfortable when I first got in it but I really never got uncomfortable while sitting in it, just slightly then shifted some and was fine. Sat in the thing for 5 hours each time, so luckily my first impression was wrong.

Had to pee a few times each day but that’s not a big deal, though the room had no door and there was always at least a few people in the room with some talking and some stuff going on but was able to ignore that decently.  I was also lucky enough to not have to shit in a bucket any day. One day if it was 1 or 2 hours long i’d have been hosed.  Needless to say, glad it wasn’t.

If you want to see the room it was in and the chair I sat in, click here. You’ll need to be able to play divx/mpeg4 (if you don’t know what is, just download and see if it will play, probably will).

Glad I’m done injecting myself with neupogen too.  For the first two ICE chemos I got a neulasta shot which does the same thing but for a longer time so just needed the one.  Neupogen just last one day, so after the third cycle of ICE I had to do it for longer any way because it was for recovery from chemo then to up my shit for stem cell collection had to give myself two shots a day for a week then three shots a day since last Friday.  It was weird, I never fully got the hang of it.  Sometimes it would bleed a little, sometimes the medicine would come out of the needle hole a little and sometimes they would both come out a little (sometimes mixed, sometimes the med and then a little bit of blood as a bubble inside that) and I couldn’t find a way to make that not happen and could figure out any correlation between when it happened and when it didn’t.  Just that it seemed to do it more when putting the needle in hurt vs when it didn’t.  Also, sometimes it would bruise after and sometimes it wouldn’t.  No correlation on that either.

Right now over all feel decent, if slightly crappy.  They figured I’d start feeling better once I stopped taking neupogen and once I was done doing stem cell harvesting.  Hoping that’s the case.  Don’t have anything major until after next week.  Have an appointment on Tuesday with radiation oncologist, I think so they can configure the machine to my body so it will hit the right spots.  Monday I have an appointment to change the dressing on my new cath.  Speaking of my new cath it’s definitely more of a pain I’m the ass than my port.  Can’t get it wet, so have to tape saran wrap or a plastic bag over it if I shower, which doesn’t work very well.  It also hurts more and won’t heal as fully because it has the hole it’s coming out of and has stitches around the tube and through little eyelet/hook things that are on the tube so if it gets pulled it will pull there vs the actual hole.  The pain isn’t to bad and has gotten better than Monday definitely but how much better it will be I don’t know.  The shower thing is definitely the most annoying and getting the dressing changed every week is kinda annoying too.  The dressing for it is a clear rubbery sticker thing that they put over it, along with a white disk that is supposed to help kill bacteria and stuff that wants to try and get to the hole.

4 Responses to “Done with stem cell harvest”

  1. Intuit says:

    “The pain isn’t too bad” — !? I think you’ve built up QUITE a tolerance.

    Those machines basically sound like a lab on wheels. Probably only a million or so a piece. If it rolled into my car and put a scratch on the door they’d probably total the car and rebuild the machine.

    That’s interesting that the meds designed to boost white cell count made you feel bad/worse. Out of curiosity did it at all resemble how one feels when getting ill ? Fever, nausea and the like ? I’ve always assumed it was the virii that were responsible for those ill feelings rather than purely the body’s own immune system. (the fever though I’ve known to be purely an immune response — just the rest of it I guess)

    Best way to help avoid getting those dressings and such wet, is probably to do a combination of wash at the sink and “shtub” washing. If not already tried, tying something tight around the top and bottom of the plastic wrappings might help prevent water from entering via the parameters. Probably have to tie it so tight that it wouldn’t be recommended. An idea to run past the nurses I suppose.

  2. bLOB says:

    Heard the tech talking to the nurse about how they used to have an older machine but they worked something out with dialysis to get this machine because they didn’t have the budget to buy a new one because they were $50k. Not exactly a mill but far from trivial. 🙂

    I wasn’t nauseous but I don’t really get nauseous when I feel sick. They did ask if I was nauseous though, so that is probably one of the usual symptoms. I just felt generally kinda crappy and kinda run down. I felt the worst after getting up, it mostly went away slowly within a few or little more hours.

    I could take a bath and use a wash cloth or whatever but that still doesn’t really help me wash my head and face that is directly above the new catheter. I’ve been taping saran wrap over it with paper tape but I need to ask how dry it needs to be, because basically I can’t wash my head if it needs to be bone dry, which isn’t really acceptable of course.

  3. Intuit says:

    50k !? Well that’s down right dirt cheap!

    They’re using a dialysis machine ? Interesting that those machines are so flexible. Ordinarily they’re designed to supplement kidney function.

    Is it being used, strictly to harvest stem cells in the blood or is it performing both it’s normal and this “extra” function for you ?

  4. bLOB says:

    it’s just being used to harvest stem cells as far as I know.

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