Thursday, October 23, 2008

1st day in the transplant "program"

Yesterday was our first day in the transplant program at the SCCA (Seattle Cancer Care Alliance), or "Hutch" as they call it. This means that for the next 3 months, we're on a well-known and rigid schedule, and essentially all of my care is now transferred to the transplant team who will follow me very closely during this time. So it feels like we've entered that next phase of things, like graduating high school and starting college. I felt comfortable with Dr. Goldberg and we'd sort of gotten into a routine with regular blood draws and visits, and the occasional chemo treatment and transfusion. So this next step is a big step for us since we're officially on the transplant path now and there's no turning back. Things are also very specialized now since we're dealing with doctors and nurses who understand exactly what I have and what I'll be going through.

Anyway, it was a relatively light day with the following schedule:
  • 11:00 - 12:00 Blood work (8 small vials and 2 large ones, super easy with the PICC line)
  • 12:00 - 1:00 Lunch (we walked down to Grand Central Bakery for a great cup of soup and sandwich)
  • 1:00 - 3:00 Meet with team nurses for physical exam and orientation

I've been assigned to the YELLOW team, which means that for the next 3 months I'll have the same nurses, physicians, nutritionists, and team doctors attending to me. There are 12 teams in all, 3 for children undergoing transplants, 3 for autologous transplants (using your own stem cells), and 6 for allogeneic transplants (using the stem cells of another donor). The amazing thing is that there are about 120 people in the program at the Hutch at any given time. That's a lot of people undergoing transplants! The Hutch does about 400 transplants a year which sounds about right since you're in the program about 3 months.

Anyway, the nurses we met were very nice and had great bed-side manners. Neither of them were in a hurry which was great and both were funny and very happy to answer our questions. They sent us home with a 1-inch thick binder full of information and resources, and probably a hundred or so pages of consent forms and clinical studies to sign. There is a person on the team responsible for scheduling, and he printed out a detailed calendar of all our upcoming appointments for the next couple of weeks. And we even have a mailbox where we can pick up copies of our labs and other things like schedule changes. Very cool!

Here's a picture of the SCCA buildings. They are within walking distance of Johanna's work.

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