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The end of Induction and the start of the Real Thing

July 10th, 2019

After 6 months of shitty medication I am in the wonderful world where I can now look forward to the really shitty thing! Autologous Stem Cell Transplant. Which basically means giving you your own stem cells.

It’s only half the story of course. Why would you need stem cells?

Because they are the building blocks of blood. And in my case it’s the blood that’s not in good shape. So they basically get rid of it.

Melphalan is administered intravenously in a seriously strong dose. It’s only a day but it does the job. All white blood cells die.

Then after a couple of days they give me my stem cells back. The body does what it does – rebuilding the blood cells hopefully without the disease.

All sounds ok. When the immune system has recovered sufficiently I can leave hospital and recover at home.

Apparently it takes up to 3 months to recover from this. Sounds like a seriously shitty thing! Information is scarce. I guess I will provide the truth in my case through this channel.

So here is my timetable…

22 July 2019 – Cylcophosphamide priming – 4 hours of intravenous meds to prepare stem cells

25 July 2019 – start 1 week’s daily Filgrastim (Gscsf) injections – apparently I do these myself (that’s a new one for me!)…

30 July 2019 – medical review and admittance to hospital for stem cell harvesting

31 July/1 August – on machine for 4-5 hours to suck the stem cells out of the blood. Basically involves blood going out of one arm through the machine and into the other arm. Carries on until enough is harvested.

11 August 2019 – admission for the main event. This day is called T-2. It’s a Sunday and on the Monday they administer the Melphalan. Thats the start of the bad stuff. Mid week I get my stem cells back.

They say it takes 3 to 4 weeks for all of this but the nurse tells me I might be out in 2. Basically it depends on how soon my immune system is ready to cope with the world. Then I go home and muddle on while I improve. Hair will be gone and I may lose some weight (there is a silver lining!).

They say it can take up to 3 months or more to get over this stuff. I will be aiming for a shorter solution!!

To say this is scary would be an understatement. I never wished for this or wanted it. I spent the past 6 months on VTD (Velcade, Thalidomide, Dexamethasone) which is not very nice and has side effects which after a while started to wear me down. Now I have to do this. Not nice. But I will prevail. I have to trust the doctors who say this is the right thing. But it sucks! Big time.

Here’s to September and getting better!!!!

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