The time spent in the hospital for my stem cell transplant is measured on an interesting scale. The date on which my previously harvested stem cells will be returned to me is called Day 0. Days before then are measured as negative days, and after then as positive days.
Depending on the chemotherapy protocol required, the number of negative days can vary a bit. Each individual’s particular rate of recovery determines the length of time they must stay after Day 0. My first day, the 25th of July, was Day -7 for me. It’s been an interesting week, though not terribly exciting.
I received my first chemotherapy session here on the evening of my arrival. Two sessions each day followed for the next four days, and yesterday morning I received my final chemotherapy session. An intravenous fluid pump was connected that day, and only unhooked so that I could shower. Today, after receiving some more fluids and anti-emetic medication, the IV pump was able to be disconnected. My ball and chain is no longer attached.
As this post title indicates, today is my “Rest Day.” It’s a fairly standard practice to have this day off between the chemotherapy and the return (or transplant) of the hematopoietic stem cells. It gives a person’s body at least forty-eight hours to eliminate most of the residual chemotherapy drugs from their system.
My lovely wife spent the night here with me last night, and stayed through lunch today. We spent several hours yesterday evening watching some crazy videos, and just generally hanging out here.
I’ve spent the rest of today relaxing and chatting with friends online. I realize that I’ve been quite remiss in posting updated information about my status here, so I intend to remedy that to a certain degree. Sitting here in my room, laptop in front of me, window behind me, and this post will finally see the light of day.
I feel just fine. My vital signs, taken about every four hours, have been great. The side effects that are most common, and experienced by the majority of people, don’t seem to have affected me as of yet. I’ve had a bit of itching from the Melphalan that I received on Saturday morning, but that’s been the worst of it.
Melphalan can cause mouth sores, so I had to have a mouth full of crushed ice during the chemotherapy infusion, which lasted about 30 minutes. As further preventative, the ice was necessary for thirty minutes before, and one hour afterward. Yes, I spent two hours keeping my mouth ice cold. Ulcerated sores in my mouth aren’t on my list of wants, so I think it was a worthwhile endeavor.
The nurses and technicians enter all of the pertinent data about my treatment into the computer terminal in my room. Blood tests every day check the progress of my white blood cells, my platelet counts, and my hematocrit percentage. My WBC count actually increased today compared to yesterday’s value. That’s probably just an anomaly, and the count will continue to drop over the next week or so.
Tomorrow, as I mentioned, is Day 0, when my hematopoietic stem cells get returned to my bloodstream. Many of those cells will find their way to my bone marrow, which is currently being heavily damaged by the chemotherapy drugs, in order to kick-start it back into action. It’s not going to be an exciting process tomorrow, but I’ll try to get a snapshot or two to post here and on Twitter. See you then!