Monday, November 18, 2013

Day -2, -1 and BLAST OFF to Day Zero

Day -2 was maybe his hardest day.  He was pretty tired and dreary just going to the hospital. His last day of chemo had a different chemo drug (BCNU?) that was based in alcohol.  All of the nurses were joking about him feeling drunk and tried to explain what the side effects were in terms of being drunk. We had no idea what they were talking about.  His face did get pretty flushed and he felt pretty awful by the time we crawled out of there.

Being home always seems to cheer Chris up. He gets comfortable in the reclining chair and I bring him whatever sounds good. For most of day -2 and -1 all that sounded good was some of the magic mineral broth that Dixie cooked up from the Cancer Fighting Kitchen book.  Broth and crackers, that's about it. Sometimes some popcorn, apple sauce, toast or Sprite.  Chris has lost more than 5 lbs since we got here and around 10 lbs from when they gave him all the fluid at the beginning of the week.

Day Zero - Today was our best morning...we didn't have to show up at the stem cell clinic in the hospital until 11:00! It was the best morning - food wise - for Chris too. He felt up to eating a bowl of mush and some toast. Although he still feels really tired, like a truck hit him.

They hooked him up to fluids, checked his labs, got him set up with an EKG machine to monitor his stats and after an hour and a half his stem cells were brought outside his curtain ... he was ready for the infusion.  His nurses were wearing a "Day Zero" tshirt and kept talking about today being his second birthday and everything. They warned him about possibly getting violently sick, having a constant tickle at the back of his throat like he needed to cough the whole time, getting stomach cramps, experiencing a 'brain freeze' type sensation in his chest, and feeling flushed.  All of those are possible side effects to the stem cell infusion.  Last week, Chris had such a good collection, they got 6 bags of stem cells frozen...thats over 4 million stem cells per kilogram of his least as far as we understand all that.

The process goes like this.

First they give Chris some dum dums to suck on to avoid actually tasting the bad taste that comes from the preservative they use to freeze the cells. Then a technician pulls out a frozen bag of stem cells and together with Chris' nurse, checks it against his wrist band to verify that they are indeed Chris' cells.  Its so cold its smoking.  She has to wear special gloves because the temperature of the portable freezer they keep the frozen bags in is colder than -180 C. CRAZY COLD.
Then the technician puts the bag in body temperature water and massages it until it becomes more of a slushy consistency.
Then she hands the bag to another technician who empties the bag into 2 big syringes and uses a smaller syringe to flush out anything remaining and extracts those remains into the small syringe.

One nurse holds / warms up the syringes while the other nurse takes one at a time and pushes it into one of Chris' lines.

And repeat. 6 times for the 6 bags.

Finally done.

Chris did great. He only experienced a little cold feeling where the slushy cells entered his body and his face looked flushed by the time we got to bag 4 or so. He felt pretty wiped and thanks to the relaxant and nausea drug Adavan (sp?) He was feeling pretty calm and slept for another couple of hours while his fluids finished.  Then we came home and had some dinner watched some TV, did some laundry and now he's playing Xbox while I write this up. I think he's earned it. :)


dixie said...

Hooray. You're finally to day Zero!! And I'm so happy that he's feeling a bit better, and eating more. Keep up the good work, both of you! Love and prayers to you!

K said...

So amazing what medical technology is doing... happy that DAY ZERO has come and gone(or is going)! Praying that all will go well in Day 1 to ..........'and so on'! How about some pictures of your growing state of affairs ;).....
Lots of love and prayers.....K