Adam's Story: White Blood Cells and Stem Cells Unite!
I know it is way past due that I write, but since the last surgery, I've had another minor one and have been literally in a doctor's office, hospital, or blood donor room every day for the last three weeks. This is my first day where I have no medical duties to adhere to.
I did get a little camera, so I am working on getting some material to put up on this site so you maybe can actually put a face to a name and join along with the experience.
I had a surgery to put a catheder through my chest, rib cage, and into my heart so I can get chemo, bloodwork, a fun thing called leukaphoresis - all while not getting poked so much.
From the beginning, I went from the operating room to the Hope Lodge, where I will be staying until this is over, hopefully by mid-November. After the operation, I was in the hospital getting chemo for the next three days. I did not get sick, but had the usual fatigue. With chemo comes a shot in the abdomen, 24-hour IV hydration, and more drugs than I can count.
Once I returned home, I started receiving these bone-aching shots every day at five times the normal amount. The Neupogen shots hurt like hell; they put your bone marrow into overdrive to produce white blood cells and stem cells, which are later harvested. This causes a severe swelling of the bone marrow and bone pain as the new cells are forced through the bone. To put it straight, I was bedridden for most of the week and in the most pain I have ever experienced. I could literally feel my bones split and crack from the inside out.
I went through this hellacious experience for a whole week. After, a new side effect came to light, as my white blood cell counts were predictably three times above normal on the Tuesday after chemo (normal counts run between 4-9 - I was over 18). Just two days later, about 77% of the cells died and I was at 4. Throughout this time I was taking the booster shots for my white blood cells and my cells still died. I took nothing to boost my cells the first time and they never left me. From Thursday to my leukaphoresis on Monday, my counts were up above 50.
On Monday I was hooked up for five hours to a machine that took my blood, spun and separated it, and took my stem cells (which were later put back into me to turn produce white blood cells for my immune system). My blood was filtered approximately five times. Luckily, in one day they were able to gather more than enough stem cells from me. To put this into perspective, it takes 8 million stem cells over a usual three day period to get the required amount. I was able to get 9.4 million cells in just one day.
That brings me up to today with a doctor's appointment tomorrow and a CT scan Friday. I am scheduled to start my second chemo stint in a week. -- Adam Frey