One more step completed.

On Tuesday I was the proud recipient of a "central line", or Hickman Port, which enabled me to spend the next two days tethered to this delightful piece of equipment.

I spent Wednesday and Thursday, for 6 hours each day, letting my new best friend extract approximately 4 million stems cells from my blood stream.  I'm sure it wasn't exactly 4 million, but at that level what's a few thousand plus or minus.  Those cells were then sent to the freezer, where they will remain until I am finished with the high dose chemo, and ready to have them "transplanted" back into my blood stream.  They will then reestablish my bone marrow and begin rebuilding my white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets, plasma, etc.  So getting a good supply of stem cells is a rather important step in the transplant process.  Mission accomplished!

I can't say that this week has been an easy visit to Duke, but it really wasn't all that bad either.  The main side effect was fatigue, or better make that exhaustion.  I received 12 super doses of Neupogen and one super booster over the prior week and a half, to get my body kicked into high gear producing stem cells.  Then the Apheresis machine recirculated my entire blood volume 3 to 4 times per day.  All of that, coupled with the very normal apprehension of this unknown procedure, takes it's toll.  I would say I slept 3 or 4 hours of the six that I was attached to the machine.  The nursing staff said that is very normal, and it will probably take 2 or 3 days after returning home, before I get feeling better.

I am home now and taking full advantage of the peace and quiet to get rested up.  I have a week before heading back to Duke for the high dose chemo, followed immediately by the transplant.  But that is all several days away.  In the meantime I plan to take it easy and get prepared to be reunited with my 4 million little buddies.

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