Monday, January 02, 2006


I went to the hospital for a CBC (blood) test to find out where my white blood cell count stood. The results were great. My count was well over 1,000. Because my counts recovered so nicely, I was told that they wanted to begin the stem cell collection (harvesting) this afternoon instead of the following day as planned originally. So that's exactly what happened. After lunch, my sister and I went to the M2- Dialysis Unit of the hospital, which is where patients go for kidney dialysis and other blood treatments. I was seated in a reclinable bed and then, hooked up to an apheresis machine, which extracts, removes stem cells and returns the remaining blood product to the patient. Once the collection begins, you can see the blood as it travels from the catheter line through the tubing and finally, into the apheresis machine, where it's processed and collected in a clear bag that hangs from a pole at the top of the machine. The tubing itself is made of 4 parts. One tube transports the blood of the patient to the apheresis machine. Another tube is filled with citrate, a liquid that mixes with the collected blood and prevents it from clotting. The drawback of the citrate, however, is that it depletes the patient's calcium. The nurse told me that I might experience tingling in the lips or at the tips of my fingers, which did in fact happen after the collection concluded. She told me to take 2 tablets of TUMS, which I did and after about an hour the tingling subsided. The largest tube transports the remaining blood back to the patient. It's larger than the other 3 tubes, because within the tube itself there lies another tube. The innermost tube transports the blood whereas the tube surrounding it is filled with warm water. The returning blood is heated so that it won't shock the patient as it returns to his or her body. I'm not sure what the 4th and final tube does.

The 1st day of collection lasted for about 4 and a half hours. The time was uneventful really. Just boring. I slept for a bit and read. My sister and I talked and joked. That evening, however, I became very fatigued. I can't recall ever being more tired than I was that evening. In addition to the fatigue, I developed intense chills and a fever. Unable to sleep, I called my doctor's office and spoke to the on call physician, the same physician I spoke to when I had a fever about a week earlier. He wasn't very worried about the fatigue, which is very common after a stem cell collection, nor the chills. As long as the fever didn't worsen or other symptoms didn't develop, I should be okay he said. He told me that he would, however, place an order for a culture of my catheter to be done the next morning. It's possible, he said, that my catheter line was infected.


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