Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 0 - Chris' Birthday

Happy Birthday, Chris!

Today was a great day. Chris got his new and improved stem cells, celebrated his new birthday (they consider the day that you get your new stem cells your new birthday) and officially became an out patient again.

It was great being able to go home last night and getting a full sleep. Since they warned us that Chris may still need to stay as an in-patient today, we spent a lot of time packing a full bag in case we were there for a few more days. However, today was our shortest day in the hospital to date and we didn't need to use anything that we brought to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital at 11:00 am and they took his vitals, did some bloodwork and checked his breathing. At 1:15 pm, Chris had his stem cell transplant.

It is a lot less dramatic then other transplants, like liver or heart, but it still was really neat to see. They store Chris' stem cells in big container filled with liquid nitrogen and when then open it up the air fills with steam. Next they soak Chris' bags of stem cells in warm water to defrost them and then he is given them back intravenously. When Chris gave his stem cells, they looked to be a salmon colour, but after they have removed the T cells and added the preservative they looked a faint yellow.

The whole process goes really fast. Studies have shown that the faster the patient receives the stem cells, the faster patients tend to grow their immune system. They think that this is due to the fact that once unfrozen, the preservative kills some of the stem cells. Chris received his stems cells in less than 25 minutes.

At the end they asked how Chris was feeling, and he replied, "I feel like a new man." It was definetly really exciting getting his new stem cells. We are so hopeful that this procedure will work and we will never have to worry about his immune system hurting him again.

Chris' stem cells

Throughout the procedure they monotired Chris' vitals, and then he needed to stay around for an hour to make sure he does not have a bad reaction.We also got a schedule for Chris' new drugs. Since he is no longer getting chemo or ATG, there are luckily less drugs.

Chris now takes:
Famcyclovir to prevent viral infections 3 times a day
Fluconazole to prevent fungal infections once daily.
Pantoprazole to prevent heartburn once daily.
Ursodial to protect his liver 4 times a day.
Chris also receives antiobiotics and neupogen (to boost stem cell growth) daily through infusion at the hosptial.
He also has a bunch of anti-nausea and sleep medications to help him out as needed.

Now that Chris is an out-patient again, we are back to the hospital daily until his blood counts are up again. They have warned us that Chris will get progresively sicker over the next two weeks, so they will also be monitoring him to make sure he eating enough and is strong enough to be at home.
On a side note, there was one really big downside to today. Stem cells smell. And since stem cells smell, and Chris got his stem cells today, it really makes Chris smell.

What does it smell like? Cream corn. Not the worst smell in the world. But it smells so strong. I make Chris sit a foot a way from me. He can't smell it, but everytime he comes near me I consider taking his anti-nausea medication. They promised it will only last for 24 hours though. I really hope it doesn't last a minute longer.


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