Wednesday, January 18, 2006

we're getting there

A few days have passed since I last updated my blog. I have spent a significant amount of that time on a project, which is way over due. I have over 300 photographs from my Watson year abroad (2002-2003) and I decided recently to finally scan these photographs on to my computer, where I can store them in addition to uploading them onto my blog using the photo sharing program, Flickr. I mentioned in a past post that its my love of traveling, which above anything else, has encouraged me to hang on when I have felt discouraged or my hope faltering. It's my hope that I'll have the opportunity to travel and experience again that feeling of endless possibility and boundless freedom, which so defined my year abroad and made it such a transformative experience for me. So with this in mind, I have been reflecting on the joys of that year as I scan image after image, edit the pictures and then finally, add descriptions to them. This project is taking a lot of time, perhaps more so than I imagined, but it's something that I really want to complete before I'm admitted for the transplant.

On Monday, I returned to the hospital for the catheter in my neck to be removed. The removal of the temporary catheter took no more than 30 seconds. In fact, it was more like 10 seconds really. It was very easy. The bulk of my time in the office was spent waiting for the bleeding to stop. Bita, the BMT practitioner, who removed the catheter had to apply pressure with her hands on my neck for about 20 minutes before the bleeding stopped and she was then able to cover the area with bandages and tape. While this was being done, my BMT doctor stepped in the room and informed us that all looked well. The cultures of my blood were negative for bacteria, so that means that the antibiotics that I took during the previous 2 weeks worked their magic. He informed that about 2..7 million stem cells had been collected during the 5 days of harvesting last week. Actually, Bita had told me this before he stepped in the room but it was okay. My family and I were a little concerned over the total harvested, because we were misinformed by Manny about what total was actually desired by the doctors. He told us 5 million stem cells were desirable. My BMT doctor, who's brillant and respected greatly I must say, assured us that 2.7 million stem cells were sufficient for a sucessful transplant. With the doctor himself saying that, there was nothing more to ask with regard to the number of harvested stem cells. If he wasn't worried, then why should I? All is well. With the issue about the stem cells over, I asked him about the type of catheter that would be inserted into my body for the treatment. He said it could be a PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) line or a catheter with thinner tubing than the one I had earlier. They hadn't decided yet.

Well, I learned today from Dianne, the BMT coordinator, that it would in fact be a PICC line, which will be placed in my arm. Actually, I was out when Dianne called. I took a brief trip to CVS in the late afternoon. So I learned the following information from my mom, who spoke to Dianne while I was away. A PICC line is inserted into one of the large veins in the arm (usually near the bend of the elbow) from where it is threaded into a vein leading to the heart. Like the catheter, the PICC line can be used for taking blood for blood tests, giving chemotherapy drugs or giving blood transfusions. The insertion of the PICC line will take place on Tuesday, January 24th, the day that I'll be admitted to the hospital for the high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. So, yes Tuesday is D-Day, the day we have all been waiting for. It's before us finally. I'm scheduled to arrive there at 9am. The first order of business on the 24th will be the insertion of the PICC line, which I am told can be done at the patient's bedside generally. I don't know how comfortable I am about this. I'd rather go to Interventional Radiology, where I know the friendly faces of the nurses and staff so well. After the PICC line is inserted, then I guess the real fun will begin.


Comment Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to hear of the successful harvest, and hope it's all smooth sailing from now. Can't wait for those travel photos. Wish you the very best!

11:47 AM  
Comment Anonymous Anonymous said...

only a few days now until d-day, and you're on all of our minds back in chi-town. good luck with all, and glad to hear that things are going well!


2:24 PM  

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