The Harvest

I got the call on Friday, June 14th to be at the hospital in Portland at 6:30 in the morning to begin harvesting stem cells. The process involves a Red Cross Technician, an intricate machine called the Cobe Spectra, and me lying on a bed for most of six hours. The goal was to harvest 10 million stem cells. Saturday brought in 2.55 million.

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The Cobe Spectra

Sunday was a carbon copy of Saturday, but brought in only 1.94 million cells. I was called back to the hospital Sunday evening for a shot of Plerixafor, a chemical to supercharge my stem cell productivity. Monday brought only 1.94 million, and after another Plerixafor shot, Tuesday brought 1.51. The good news is that they add up to, “Close Enough.”

Me connected to the Spectra

Me connected to the Spectra

The harvest season ended for me with a bag of platelets to be infused into one of those handy tubes hanging out of my chest. There must be something good in platelets because I felt much less exhausted as at the end of the previous days, or maybe it was just knowing this part of the process was over. I was discharged to go home in fragile condition and instructed to avoid activity that could lead to bleeding, internal or external. I wait now for the call to check into the hospital long term, probably sometime next week.

Special thanks again to my cousin, Abraham, for all the great help and support when Diane couldn’t be there.

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Now Begins Real Adventure

After finishing the chemo treatments, food tastes good again, constipation is gone, and I am not so easily out of breath. Ending the treatments also meant ending my sanctioned boycott of professional dental cleaning. With Wednesday’s cleaning I received a mouthful of x-rays to make sure there were no impending infections that would interfere with the transplant process.

I apparently passed my pre-transplant tests, the electrocardiogram, an echocardiogram, and a pulmonary function test. They wanted to see that I’m likely to survive this adventure.

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“Line” is a much friendlier name than Central Venous Access Device

Yesterday was a full day at the Providence Cancer Center in Portland. Everyone I came in contact with was more than kind, starting and ending with my cousin, Abraham who drove and spent the day there with me. My Central Line was installed and I received a strong dose of chemo. I was awarded a box full of supplies including those needed for cleaning the Central Line daily, and some pre-filled Neupogen syringes for the twice daily subcutaneous shots to be administered by Diane or myself through the next week or so. This is to encourage stem cell production.

In about nine days, stem cell collection should begin. Sometime after that, I will move into my temporary home in the hospital. God knows the end of this fascinating story. I must read it one page (one day) at a time to see how it turns out. Thank you all for your prayers and support.