Monday, 1 July 2013
VASCath Placement and the Harvest
First day of the week and first day of the month, today was to be my Day of Harvest.
Vineetha had a terrible night’s sleep. She was worrying why the severity of my bone pain was mild compared to other SCTers. Perhaps it was because I was given only one daily dose of Neupogen whereas everyone else had two! Could this mean I haven’t produced enough stem cells, and the journey so far was a wasted effort?
Anyhow, unless we carried out the harvest we would not know. So we left the apartment early and checked in at Interventional Radiology [IR] before 7am.
Whilst we were in the waiting area, we met with a young MS patient (Doug) and his mother (Norah). Doug was having his harvest as well, and would be admitted to Prentice on 16 July along with me. As he recounted the last six days of bone pain where he could barely walk, I watched Vineetha’s anxious face and told her to calm down.
Then came my next hurdle, as IR told me I was booked in at 1:30pm for my PICC line. Fortunately, I knew enough about the process and told them I required a temporary catheter into my neck so that I could reach the Rube Walker blood center by 9am for the stem cell harvest. They went off to check with Dr Burt’s office, and I felt the minutes ticking by as I knew I had to have the catheter put in soon if I had any chance of completing the harvest today.
They returned soon after, confirmed that the catheter should be put in and wheeled me off to theatre. I lay on the table and as they numbed my neck, and the x-ray machine monitored the catheter’s journey from my neck through the jugular vein, down to the top of my heart.
After cleaning me up, I made my way to the blood center for some blood draws and had a well needed breakfast at the Protein Bar on Level 2.
Breakfast was great! It was an egg salad type thing, a blueberry muffin and a hazelnut roast coffee. I received a call from the blood centre, who told me the results had come in and I should return to the unit to start harvesting.
I was met by Arlene, a nurse from the Philippines. Arlene instructed me to sit in the reclining chair as she explained the process step and step. Before I knew it she had connected the hoses to my catheter and set the machine to work.
I was expected to be connected to the machine until 4pm which was another 5 hours away. I whiled away the time between dosing, watching movies on Netflix and chatting to Vineetha and the girls.
The girls were the stars of the show again, and the nurses were constantly giving them snacks and drinks.
Amy Morgan, the SCT program supervisor, came in to check on me. My blood work results were good, and they had forecast a collection of 16 million stem cells. All the other blood counts were high (probably as a result of the Neupogen), so she was really pleased with my progress. She was so confident of meeting the collection target of 2 million stem cells that she had given the go ahead for removal of the temporary catheter at the end of the day.
We also had a discussion about the transplant, and she had forecast that my blood counts would be high enough for me to be discharged on either 31 July or 1 August. It'll be interesting to see how accurate this forecast is.
The five hours were up, another set of blood samples were drawn and I was finally released from the machine.
After not having anything to eat or drink for a good few hours, I was very hungry. We went back to the Protein Bar for a chicken chilli with greek yoghurt and avocado, washed down with a hot coffee (…very satisfying). The blood center called to say the blood results were in, so we rushed back.
Arlene told me they had collected 11.6 million stem cells (a bit less than the forecast, but a success all the same). The relief on Vineetha’s face was fairly apparent.
The final step was to remove the temporary catheter, which was mildly uncomfortable now. She explained how she was going to remove the catheter, and before I knew it the catheter had been pulled and we could return to the apartment for a two week rest.
Today had started with confusion, but overall I think it was a really successful day!!