Even with these intense night sweats along with my bladder being too hyper-active forcing me to get up continuously, I slept better with a lot more drugs. Phew.
I woke up though with a severe fatigue I hadn’t here experienced yet. For pwMS (people with MS) it’s that kind of fatigue when you don’t even want to look at the phone if it rings.
Ciproflaxin 500mg (anti-biotic) x 2/day
Acyclovir 400mg (anti-viral)
Itraconazole 100mg (anti-fungal)
Fenazopiridina 40mg x 3/day
The chemist (the queen of laboratory testing) was arriving at 9’ish. For apheresis you are not able to have any caffeinated drinks and just light food, liquids, etc. So instead, I had a rooibos tea, with honey and some keto coconut creamer. Fernie had an awesome veg/fruit/ginger smoothie ready for me upon her departure. He’s such a star 🌟
Instead of doing the blood draw in my (bruised) veins she pricked the end of my finger multiple times to collect a small sample. It is larger, but similar to a diabetes needle prick. She took off to the lab to test if I have enough stem cells, and obviously to see if my total WBC was at a minimum of 1.0 for apheresis.
I got the call at 9:45am that I was ready for apheresis and then straight to chemo after. I had until to prepare for an 11:15am pick up.
The apheresis is done at the Hospital Universitario in their hematology department.
The room itself is kept at 18C. To say the procedure was extensive, is an understatement. Even the set up took a while to complete. The complexity of the process and the staff running in and out of my ‘room’ constantly let me know it was a high stress work environment.
It took 246 minutes total time to complete; longer than the average. It was explained to me that it took longer due to the catheter placement, I was ‘so skinny, plus I also wanted the maximum amount of stem cells we could harvest. To try to sum it up easily, my entire blood system was pulled in/out five times during this time period. Five is the maximum amount possible of blood that can be taken in/out of someone or they could go into possible shock.
The machine is a centrifugal system whereby my blood is pumped in, spins at a very high speed such that the smaller/larger blood products (RBC/platelets, etc.) flow to a level above or below the stem cells. The machine knows when the stem cells are there and automatically suck them up into bag above the machine. They are this brown/orange colour and the staff said they looked ‘good’. Who knew, haha?!
The physical experience itself was very uncomfortable for me. I was literally shaking from head to toe from the intense pressure of my blood coming out/in continuously. It was somewhat similar in sensation of being hypothermic (and I was also seriously cold). The worst part is that it exacerbated my existing MS symptoms a LOT. I needed to take a ton of drugs to calm the neuro system and electricity down. You cannot move or the machine starts the alarm beeping and staff come flooding in.
Prior to the treatment, I was warned that we couldn’t use the rest room at all during this period and we are told to wear pull-ups if you can’t hold it. I mention this as the procedure really flared up up my standard bladder urgency. Luckily, they had a bed pan I could use as the alternative (which I used 4-5x). Gah, the thought of using my pull-ups would have been even more uncomfortable. Can’t even imagine how to clean up after that without moving! Thankfully, I’d been practicing my glut bridges (or BGB to my MS Gym family) so we could get the pan in and out from under me.
Before I left they took a sample of stem cells from the bag to send to the lab, plus a standard blood test via pin prick again on the finger like this morning.
Gosh, I felt a LOT better after procedure finished. I even walked a bit.
Storage of stem cells 4°C until transplant.
February 15th (Part II): Chemo