Tuesday, January 13, 2009

13 days until transplant

I'm hanging out at Grand Central Bakery near the SCCA, nursing a cup of cafe vita coffee and eating a huge croissant. Not much to report. Yesterday I had a scheduled visit with my transplant team and met Dr. Doney, the attending physician that now heads my team. Each month they rotate attending physicians and other staff between the 12 different teams, so Dr. Doney will be in charge of my transplant. She's been at Fred Hutchinson for 30+ years, and she was well-informed about my case and funny too. We'll meet again on Thursday for a go/no-go meeting, and if all goes well with the upcoming CT scan tomorrow, I'll go in for surgery on Friday to have my Hickman central catheter put in. The Hickman is sort of like the PICC line that I had in my arm, except that this one is inserted into your chest directly above your heart, so there's less chance of the line moving around or the line getting blocked. It's good timing too, since I'll need to switch from the voriconizole antibiotic to an IV antibiotic 48 hours before the chemotherapy starts, so it'll be nice to have the Hickman line in since it's an hour-long infusion each day.

In transplant speak, I'm at day -13 now. Day 0 is the day of the transplant, and everything is measured in terms of days before or after that. There are checkups at day 50 and day 100 for example. And they've done so many transplants that they know when to expect side-effects like mucositis (day 3 - day 13) and hair re-growth (day 15) to occur. The chemotherapy to wipe out my existing stem cells is called conditioning, and starts on Day -7. Right now I'm in the preparation stage.

Friday will mark the end of my freedom for several months, since from then on I'll have the Hickman catheter and we'll have to change the dressing regularly until it's removed. I'll be tethered to it 24 hours a day for a month starting next Monday and could have the Hickman for a while after that. So Friday is sort of a psychological milestone. But I'm looking forward to it. I'm ready to get this transplant done. My last hospital stay is far enough behind me that it's starting to be a distant memory, rather than something that feels like it just happened yesterday.

In other news, I'm sad to say that Dawn, the fellow blogger I mentioned in my last post last week, passed away last Thursday. My heart goes out to her husband and family.

That's it for now. I'll report back with more soon. Last Friday we started off the weekend great with a stay at the Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie, courtesy of our friends Jenny and Greg. We were there while the falls had a tremendous amount of water going over them as a result of all the recent flooding, so it was something you don't normally see.

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