Monthly Archives: September, 2010

Day 9 – Stem Cell Transplant Day 0

The medical community uses the concept of “day +/-” to count down the process of doing a Stem Cell Transplant. The days of preparation before the transplant are “minus” days so “day -1” would be the day before transplant, for example. The days after transplant are the “plus” days. Day Zero is the most important day as that is the day you get transplant and it will be known as your new birth day!

To keep the posts simple, I have been using the day I am in the hospital as title. Starting today, I will add the “plus” days to the title.  It will be easier to comment on the milestones that occur as we go along.

My brother Bernie donated his stem cells this morning with no problems through a process called apheresis.

Bernie Donating Stem Cells

Bernie Donating Stem Cells

Apparently he is a Stem Cell machine as he put out 28 million cells. I will get 8 million and the rest is frozen for 10 years if I need a booster in future. A normal recipient usually only gets 2 million cells.

The stem cells were processed and delivered up to my room at 5:30pm.

It’s all kind of anti-climatic at this point. The nurse hangs the bag of stem cells and it goes into your body  pretty fast. Now we need wait for engraftment to take place as the new cells spread through my body and replace all the bad ones. Of course the latent effects of chemo are still going on and will do their part to kill bad things also.

Jim Points At Brothers Stem Cells

Jim Points At Brothers Stem Cells

Brother Bernies Stem Cells

Brother Bernies Stem Cells

This is considered my rebirth day, sort of like a new birthday. When this is all done I will have my brothers immune system. If our blood types were different (they are not), I would have gotten his blood type also.

I get to keep the extra stem cells free for 10 years at the cancer center. Then I have to work out a payment system. Use it or lose it I guess!

The next phase is waiting. My white blood counts will get dangerously low, which is why I have to stay in hospital. I will also have some affects of chemo such as mouth sores and hair lose. And I will be on a lot of anti-rejection drugs. The fight continues!


Day 8

Relatively quiet day, my mom and oldest brother Ray stopped by and of course Susan. Again got some nausea before bedtime but we will try and deal with that with some more medication.  Was able to exercise by walking around the floor multiple times in the early afternoon. Tomorrow is the big day 🙂

Day 7

Today I got last round of chemo which made me sick most of day. Felt better after I threw up later in night and hope to sleep better now.

Mary T. came over in afternoon and brought me some balloons and flowers. Unfortunately I can’t have flowers in room so we put them on the nurses station.

Jim and Mom

Day 6

This has  been the worst day in how I feel. Today and tomorrow I am getting a dose of the chemo drug Cytoxan, which is the drug that will ultimately cause my hair to fall out. This is the final conditioning to kill off as many bad cells in my blood as possible. Unfortunately, like its name this “toxin” drug not only kills the bad cells, but some of the good cells also.

The good news, one more two hour treatment at 10am Tuesday,  then Wednesday is a day of quiet before the Stem Cell Transplant Thursday afternoon. 🙂

Day 5

Another quiet day of chemo. My donor brother and his wife stopped by. He has started his four shots, once each day until apheresis day on Sept 30, to help his body release stem cells into bloodstream.

Today was a good St. Louis sports day, both the baseball Cardinals and football Rams won! That has not happened in awhile.

Slept fairly well last night, I stayed up late watching TV and that seemed to make it easier to fall asleep. Will see what tonight brings…..

Day 4

Not much new to post today. My appetite has been iffy, but that is expected, and going to bathroom a lot because of all the IV fluids, plus they encourage you to drink a lot of water on your own. It helps flush the chemo through your system.

Watching a lot of TV…Checked out season premieres of “The Office”, “Fringe”, and “30 Rock”. Even watched the premiere of “The Event”, although that seems like something that will sucker you into watching and never reveal any answers (remember X-Files the last few season..they were bad!) Sunday is “The Amazing Race”, which I think is the best reality show. I haven’t watched “Survivor” since the 3rd Season.

Several people have emailed about visiting hospital. At this time, I would prefer only family members to visit, mainly to control any wayward infections. I will be recovering at home for many weeks, and that is when I might like to have a lot of visitors 🙂

Day 3

Today my mom and brother came to visit, in addition to Susan who comes every night 🙂 I gave them the grand tour around the floor! The Ambien I got Thursday night seemed to help me sleep. Chemo is on a 10-4-10-4 schedule (10pm, 4am, 10am, 4pm) and lasts 2 hours each cycle.

I am able to order anything off the hospital menu. That is either a good or bad thing depending on your perspective. Some of the food is actually okay, but there are some things that just don’t come out right (no more green beans on the side). I can have some prepackaged food from off site. It’s hard to keep up an appetite when you are not really doing much physically. I will start going to the exercise bikes soon.

Day 2

2nd day of my chemo preparatory regime. I won’t go into details of the drugs, but I basically get chemo for a couple hours, then off for a few hours, around the clock. They check my vitals and check my blood counts several times throughout the day and night. No nausea or reactions for now, that will probably come post-transplant. I have trouble sleeping, so we are going to try a sleeping pill tonight. Thanks for your comments!

Day 1

I am in the hospital now. Everything went pretty smoothly so far. They put a Catheter on me, which will be used instead of sticking my arm all the time. After the Catheter was in, we stopped at Applebee’s for dinner before checking into room. The chemo will start tonight, and go for seven days.

My room number is 5919 and direct phone number to room is 314-747-5919.   The number to the floor is 314-454-8673.  They probably won’t give you info on my status, but you can leave them a message and I can call you back. There is no voice mail to the room, it will just keep ringing if it is not answered.

Latest Schedule

I will be admitted to Barnes Siteman Center on Wednesday, Sept 22. My brother will get his daily shots to stimulate production of Stem Cells in his body Sept 26-29 and donate the stem cells on Sept 30, and maybe Oct 1, if we don’t get enough the first day. I will probably get the stem cell via IV on the same day. Then we wait a couple weeks to see how it goes 🙂

In the meantime, Monday and Tuesday, I am getting my things together and doing some shopping…..