A post from Duke

As I write this post I am sitting in my hospital bed at Duke Medical Center.  Yesterday I was admitted to the "9200 unit", which is the section on the 9th floor dedicated exclusively to Bone Marrow Transplant inpatient treatments.  All outpatient services are handled at the ABMT clinic about a block away.  Over the coming weeks I will become very familiar with both of these locations.  Yesterday, after arriving in my room, I met a series of medical staff personnel who were all quite impressive.  This is the same TEAM that will be taking care of me when I return in two weeks for my high dose chemotherapy, the heavy duty 'hit', used to wipe out my bone marrow and immune system, as well as any remaining hidden cancer cells.

My current stay began with infusing lots of liquids so that my system would later flush out the chemo and dead cells more effectively.  I also received some IV premeds to help prevent some side effects, including nausea.  The actual chemo infusion, which was a new drug for me called Cytoxan, only lasted about 2 hours.  Apparently it has the potential for some definite side effects, but 18 hours later I am pleased to report that, other that a mild headache, I have experienced none.  My track record of avoiding side effects continues to serve me well, although I'm not sure how much longer that will be the case.  I'm hoping that history continues to repeat itself, but am prepared for the high dose chemo to be an altogether different experience.  People are telling me to be prepared, but then I have also heard that before.  We shall see.

Yesterday's chemo will cause my cell counts to drop.  Then next week I will receive daily Neupogen shots to help increase the rebuilding of my cell counts, including stem cells.  After that, two weeks from yesterday I will spend at least two days as an outpatient at the clinic, having my stem cells collected for later use.  That procedure, while perceived by some as a painful process of sucking something out of my bone marrow, is actually accomplished by hooking me up to a piece of equipment that circulates my blood out through a catheter, extracts the stem cells, and then returns the blood to my system.  I will be attached to that amazing and miraculous machine, for about 6 hours each day.  At the end of each day they actually count the number of cells collected to determine if they have enough.  For a very non medical type person, who is learning a lot through the school of hard knocks, I am just blown away by what medical science can do these days.

Enough for now from my hospital bed.  We get to return home this afternoon, where I look forward to a good night's sleep, which is something that is hard to come by in a hospital.


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