Saturday, January 17, 2009


Eating ice and enjoying every minute

On Tuesday I had my stem cell transplant as scheduled. All in all it was pretty anti-climatic. My frozen cells came in four bags, each of which were thawed out in a bath of warm water, hooked up to my port and fed back into my system. The actual transplant took less than an hour. It is a low risk procedure with the only concern during transplant being a possible reaction to the preservative (DMSO) used in the storage of the stem cells. Fortunately, I didn't have any reaction. However, there was one unpleasant characteristic I couldn't avoid. It smells. Or rather I smelled. The DMSO passes from your system rather quickly and is expelled through the respiratory system and it seems from your pores as well. In any case it is a smell a little like corn chowder, which isn't too bad until it becomes very strong, and then it is pretty hard to take. I couldn't smell it on myself, which they say is common. Lynn, on the other hand was stuck in a closed car on the ride home with me oozing a less than pleasant odor. Just one more of the many perks of being a caregiver.
While I am on the subject of unpleasantness, let me say something about the chemo leading up to transplant. The chemical used in this treatment has a number of unpleasant side effects, one of which is the possibility of open sores or cankers in the mouth and esophagus. To minimize the chances of this occurring they have you keep your mouth full of ice for 20 minutes prior to the infusion, during the infusion and for 20 minutes after the infusion. The idea being that it shrinks the surface capillaries of the mouth and throat and doesn't let the chemo in to do its damage. Now this didn't sound too bad until I actually had to do it. Lynn, who likes to chew ice would probably have no trouble at all. I, on the other hand don't even use ice in my drinks. For me this was pure torture and I have never been so cold in my life. I was completely wrapped in warm blankets, a ski cap on my head, a hooded sweatshirt over that and the quilt from the grand kids on my lap and was still chilled from head to to toe. However, the thought of a mouth full of cankers kept me motivated and I hung in there until the bitter end. I know I am whining about pretty noise level stuff, but the reality is that everything has gone so well and I really needed something to complain about. The good news is that I have only had one small canker on my lip so I guess it was all worth it.

I am now in the fourth day following transplant and doing well. They tell me the next five days is when I can expect to feel my worst. However the "worst" varies with each individual, so we will just take it one day at a time and deal with whatever the "worst" is in my case.


Phat Bri said...

We are so glad to hear that all is going well. I'm surprised the ice in the mouth didn't give you a "brain-freeze" too. Next time see if they'll let you do it with ice cream; hey it's frozen too!

Jill and Troy Larkin said...

It was great to see Lynn the other night. Troy insists on being the next Steve-sitter after this isolation period! We're so thankful things have gone as smoothly as they have. You both deserve medals! You're always in our prayers. We're looking forward to a night out this spring.

Book Girl said...

Q, this morning when we were at the Huntsman we asked them if Steve could eat ice cream rather than ice the next time he has chemo. They said absolutely. I cannot imagine eating ice cream for an hour and a half - however - Steve said he has always wanted to sit down and eat a quart of ice cream. The nurse told him he would need a half gallon!

the kings said...

grandpa -
i like your blanket and i hope you feel better too.
from jaxon

the kings said...

Grandpa Steve -
I went to the YMCA and went swimming. Also I saw my friend Haley there. I am going to play soccer soon, I am good at goalie. I hope I am goalie for soccer. By the way I hope you feel better soon. I hope Grandma Lynn can come see us soon.
Love Lia.

Georgia said...

I don't like chewing ice,either, but my dislike for cankers in my mouth is greater, too! Also, I think you are entitled to complain whenever you want to! Glad it mostly worked after freezing! Keep hanging in there!

Cousin Georgia