Harvesting started today. And ended! Normally, it takes anywhere from 1 -5 days to collect sufficient stem cells to accomplish two transplants - which is the goal of the collection procedure. Typically, most patients should expect to spend two days in the collection mode. The day began with the usual procedure of getting blood work and a neupogen shot. Then I was wheeled into a surgical suite where a very cheery vascular surgeon implanted a two-way catheter into my jugular vein to accommodate the cell collection. I was then take for an x-ray to make sure the catheter was in the right place and then on to the apheresis room, I was hooked up to a washing machine sized device that collect blood from one of the tubes and put it back through the other, after having collected the appropriate stem cells. During the course of the day, 22 million cells were collected and remarkably, I was told I was done. The only down side was that I didn't receive this news until I was almost home and, while I could have turned around and gone back to Cedars to have the catheter removed, I elected not to impose on my good friend Ken Goldstein, who spent most of the afternoon with me making sure I was well nourished both nutritionally and emotionally. So, I'l have to go back tomorrow, but only for a brief procedure to remove the catheters.
I'm very pleased with the process and particularly with the results. I never experienced any discomfort. The first question the vascular surgeon asked me was "what kind of music would you like to listen to?" and he then proceeded to tune his iPhone to the Pandora 60s Rock station at my request. Dr. W. was young, charming and just on the right side of the line between confident and cocky. It was all over before I knew it and...best of all...nothing hurt.
The collection procedure was similarly uneventful. Ken saved the day by keeping me occupied and laughing. And I'm particularly pleased that my body has responded so well to everything asked of it. BTW: Some of the hospital personnel predicted that I would beat the odds and knock this out in one day...based on the fact that my white blood cell count came roaring back over the weekend and now stands at 36. Just to refresh...normal is from 4 -11. I was down to .2 on Friday...well below normal. Now I'm way above normal....an excellent result. This also explains why I was in so much pain over the weekend. My bones were working overtime to replace the depleted stem cells and that caused the discomfort. I'm fine now.
So, after I get the catheter removed tomorrow, I'm off treatment until Feb 7, when I check into the hospital for the actual transplant.
Onward and upward. I'm feeling good!