Hello dear friends. I’m still here! It has been a pretty rough month and to be honest, I haven’t felt like blogging much. Every time I’ve gotten my laptop out, I’ve put it right back. But I’m feeling much better now and wanted to update you on what’s been going on. I plan to go back and write posts about each of the events that have happened, but for now I’m just going to give a basic run-down.
After the neupogen, I did stem cell collection, which was probably the coolest of all this stuff. They hooked me up to a machine that took my blood out, separated out the stem cells, then put the rest of my blood back in. Because I’m a rock star, I only had to do collection for two days. I got about 7 million stem cells, which was well over the minimum amount I needed.
After collection, I did the high-dose chemo. I took Busulfan orally (52 little pills a day) for about a week, and then I did two days of IV Cytoxan. The high-dose chemo is the point of no return. It kills all the cancer cells as well as all of my bone marrow and white blood cells. No bone marrow means no ability to create more blood cells, hence the stem cell transplant, which “rescues” me from the high-dose chemo.
I had a day of just fluids after the Cytoxan, and then on Thursday, February 5th, I had my transplant. Everyone on the transplant floor tells you “Happy Birthday” when they see you, because they know it’s the day you’re getting a new lease on life. They thaw your stem cells out and slowly push them into your IV via syringe. I had seven full syringes, which were pushed in over about an hour’s time. The preservative they put in the stem cells is gross; it burned my throat and made me cough, and it also made me smell for a day or two. Some of the nurses said it smells like creamed corn and some said it smells like garlic. One of the midlevels said it smells like a fart to her. At any rate, every single medical personnel I came into contact with for the next two days immediately asked if I had just had my transplant. “Why yes, yes I did. What does it smell like to you?” The funny thing was that I couldn’t smell it at all, but I could taste it in the back of my throat. Tasted kind of like throw-up. But no complaints here, I’ll deal with the puke taste if it means my stem cells will survive!
So now I am on 21 days of coming to the clinic every. single. day. Every day I get 2 liters of IV fluids, which takes 6 hours to infuse. I also get blood work done and then get platelets or blood or potassium or whatever my CBC panel says I need. On day 6, I spiked a fever of 101.7, so I had to go to the hospital, back to the BMT unit on the 4th floor at Northside. I spent a few days in the hospital, getting antibiotics, blood, and platelets, and then they let me out on Friday afternoon. That weekend the mouth and throat sores got really bad, and I nearly had to go back in, but thanks to Boost and a pill cutter, I was able to get calories in and my meds down. I’m doing much better now. Yesterday I even was able to eat some junk food and walk around the clinic several times.
Today is day 15, so I only have one more week of going every day. This week I haven’t needed anything but fluids, so hopefully next week I will be able to go to three days a week. It would be really nice to sleep in occasionally! I’m still bald, and still exhausted, but starting to feel a bit more human. I’m so grateful that this treatment is available to me, and that I’ve made it through without any major issues. And of course I’m thankful for my awesome village- you guys have been a huge factor in helping me pull through this!