Successful harvest

What a couple of days. I arrived at the Royal Marsden at 8.30 yesterday morning. First thing was to give blood. Apparently they can tell from this whether or not they are likely to harvest enough stem cells.
Then it was off for a meeting with the transplant co-ordinator, physio, occupational therapist and dietician. Basically was told I can’t bring much in the way of fresh food in for my 3 weeks, no flowers, no visitors ESP if they’re ill. But nothing I wasn’t already aware of. Apart from they expect me to do more exercise in hospital than I do outside!!!!
I got back from this and after an hours wait, got told that my stem cells looked amazing and they thought they’d get loads! All the nurses were really excited as apparently they hadn’t seen a blood sample that looked this good for ages! Fantastic news up to this point.
So they then hooked me up to the machine-I’ll see if I can attach a photo later! Small cannular went in one hand and then they tried the big needle in the hook of my arm. It went in fine and the blood started flowing but the machine kept bleeping because of low pressure. So they tried a second time in a different spot..still no luck. Third time they tried the other arm but so much for third time lucky! At this point they said it wasn’t working because the veins kept collapsing and that I’d need to have it go through my groin. Fine I said…little did I know!!
So after another hour or so of waiting I went to the minor procedures suite where there was a young doctor in scrubs. “you’ll feel a bit of pushing” she said. She gave me a local anaesthetic and off we went. OMG. Perhaps I have a lower pain threshold than I thought but it hurt so much I called out in pain and couldn’t stop blubbing. I was so embarrassed but I just couldn’t stop. I was still crying 20 mins later when I got back to outpatients. It shocked the living daylights out of me. I think it was a mix of the pain, the thought I would have to do it again next week for getting the stem cells back and the while anxiety that has perhaps been building up to next week.
Anyway back to outpatients and this time they managed to hook me up and start collecting the stem cells. And apparently that was ‘perfect’ blood. But the reality was that even if I’d finished by 6pm, they wouldn’t know if they’d got enough until the next morning. So the consultant had the choice of taking out the tubes, sending me home and then me having to do it all again today if they hadn’t got enough, or keeping me in overnight so that they could keep the tubes in. He decided I should stay in. I was gutted but in retrospect it was the right decision- my night wasn’t too bad. Also I was quite I’ll in the last hour of the harvest. It can lower your calcium levels quite dramatically and it did this resulting in me feeling pretty nauseous and having tingling all over my face. It felt like it was vibrating!! They had to put me on a drip to sort it and it was only after 2.5 hours on this that I started to feel normal again. So I’d have felt awful if i’d gone home without that.
Anyway, the end of this long story is that I’ve just been told that they have got 4.4 million stem cells!!!! They need about 2 for a transplant so it means they can keep the rest for a second transplant when I relapse! So just waiting for the tubes to come out and then I can go back to my sisters. Back again tomorrow for 4 hours of kidney tests but hopefully that won’t be stressful!!
Brilliant!

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Successful harvest

  1. “the thought I would have to do it again next week for getting the stem cells back and the while anxiety that has perhaps been building up to next week.”

    Putting them back in is a ‘non event’. They will hook you up to a drip, using your line, thaw your cells in a warm water bath and just connect the bag to the drip. Twenty mins/ half hour and its all over. No pain, just a little anxiety.

    Hope it all goes well……

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  2. Congrats on the bountiful harvest! When I had mine done there were major problems with clotting on the second day and a discussion at the end about whether to put in a line in my groin which included the apherisis nurse saying it would be like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. This made me think it wasn’t a minor procedure. Trust me the insertion of a Hickman line (which presumably you’ll be having) isn’t anywhere near as traumatic and all I felt was some indeed some pushing. šŸ˜€

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