Wednesday, 10 October 2007

An Update

Well we're mid-way through the week and 2 days into daily visits to the hospital. Yesterday I got my PICC line installed (see site at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PICC_line which briefly explains) and my high dose chemo through my spanking new PICC line. All in all spent about 6 hours at the hospital. I'm back on anti-naseua drugs, including dexamethasone, but this drug also gives me insomnia - so I slept poorly last night - and high blood sugur - so my levels have been high since I started checking yesterday and I'm back on the sliding scale of insulin.

While Maryse and I have agreed to take a day-to-day approach to all this, we already know the long-term side-effects. Actually, the long-term begins in the short-term: the next 5-10 days. The Pharmacist at the hospital tells us that's when the fun begins: naseua (at both ends!) fatigue and perhaps infection. So there's lots of anti-naseua and anti-infection drugs and gargling 3 times a day with salt-water. Beyond 10 days, depending on how I handle all this, I may be admitted to the hospital. Beyond that, I can expect to lose 20 per cent of my body mass because I'll likely have no tastebuds for the next 2 months, resulting in a loss of appetite.

But beyond that they're taking good care of me. Aside from the Pharmacist there's a Nutritionist, a Social Worker, 2 PICC Nurses plenty of Registered Nurses and Doctors (and a partridge in a pear tree). These are just the folks in the Medical Daycare Unit on the ward. It doesn't include the team I see monthly in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. And they're all so nice! And they answer all your questions, and they explain everything they do and why. In that respect, at least, this whole procedure is great. And of course I have my Caregiver - my Maryse!

Book: French Kiss - Stephen Harper's Blind Date With Quebec by Chantal Hebert

Music: Songbird: Rare Tracks and Unforgotten Gems by EmmyLou Harris

Friday, 5 October 2007

The Big Day is Coming

Yesterday Maryse and I went to the Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic at the General Hospital and learned what's in store for me next week and beyond.

It all starts next Tuesday at 8am when we go to Admitting. I'm not entering the hospital next week, but will likely have to at some point in the future, as early as a week later due to fever or infection.

Next I'll have a PICC line installed (peripherally inserted central catheter) in my arm. PICCs can remain in your arm for between 6 months and a year and facilitate intravenous chemo and other medications as well as the taking of blood samples. This seems the better route to go than regular short intravenous needles each time I need to provide a blood sample, given that I'll be visiting the hospital on a daily basis at the outset, then 2-3 times a week, once weekly and finally once monthly.

After the PICC is installed I receive my last and highest dose of chemo - a drug called Melphalan. In clearing out any remaining cancer cells, this drug results in decreasing my white cells, lowering my hemoglobin and decreasing my platelets. So a blood transfusion may well be necessary a day or so later.

That's it for Tuesday. Wednesday is described as a day of "rest". Then the stem cell infusion is scheduled for Thursdat October 11 at 1pm.

Then the hospital visits to monitor my vitals and take blood samples begin on a daily basis.

While this varies on a patient-to-patient basis, somewhere around the 7 to 10 day mark I'll likely be admitted to the hospital for up to 2 weeks or so to deal with fatigue, infection or fever or a combination there of. This actually could occur at any point, night or day, hence the pre-admission exercise Tuesday.

Full recovery of the immune system usually takes about 6 months. Early on, apart from fatigue fever or infection, the biggest concern is mucositis or serious mouth sores and pain as a result of the chemo. Beyond 6 months the threat of viral pneumonia remains a concern.

And of course, after all is said and done, with a recovered bone marrow and immune system, the cancer should be gone. Keep your fingers crossed for me!


Book: Hickory Wind - The Life and Times of Gram Parsons by Ben Fong-Torres


Music: Kill to Get Crimson by Mark Knopfler

Monday, 1 October 2007

About Face

Yeah, how about that face! I really have one under that beard. It got to the point my hair was falling out so much - both on the top of my head and my face - that I got tired of waking up with a mouth full of hair in the morning - blecchhh! So here's the new me...

Thursday I'm off to the hospital to find out more about next week's chemo and stem cell infusion. So I'll share more info after that.



Book: The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft

Music: Yellowjacket by Stephen Fearing
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