Stem Cell Transplant Journal Day 8 – 8 December 2015 (Cancer and Me 49)

9th December 2015 4 By Andy Burrows

Day Zero!

Before we get to the important part, for the benefit of my mum, let’s get this part out of the way – the food has been very nice so far. I’ve enjoyed all of it (although perhaps the soup was a bit bland if I was to be fussy). I haven’t been organised enough to have the cooked breakfast or scrambled egg in the mornings, so have made do with toast. But I will get round to having a more interesting breakfast before I lose my appetite in a few days’ time. For lunch and dinner, I’ve been working my way through the menu, and so far have had:

  • Cheeseburger, chips* and baked beans
  • All day breakfast
  • Chicken mayo sandwich
  • Chicken tikka masala (with chips!)
  • Beef stew and dumplings
  • Savoury minced lamb
  • Chicken roast
  • Sausage roll, chips and beans
  • Chicken burger and chips
  • Tomato soup
  • Carrot and coriander soup
  • Jacket potato with cheese and baked beans
  • Pizza and chips
  • Beef lasagne

The amusing thing is that you never know the portion sizes you’re going to get. So when I asked for Chicken Tikka and the catering guy said, “do you fancy chips with that?” I did not know that I was going to get a whole plate of chips as well as a whole plate of curry and rice! And when I asked for two sausage rolls with chips and beans, I did not know that the two sausage rolls would take up one whole plate, so that the chips and beans took up another whole plate!!

That said, having learnt a thing or two, I asked for two sausage rolls again for lunch yesterday and gave one to Heidi to save her going to the shop! (Shhh! Don’t tell!)

And I’m not even going to mention the desserts except that I’m now hooked on desserts and am in no danger of losing any weight in here just yet.

The drip was on the whole night, so the combination of trying not to tangle with the line and getting up to pee about 7 times meant I did not sleep well. Oh well, it’s not like I’d got a high pressure work day ahead. There will be time to catch up!

The fluids were kept going through until about 12:30pm (and so the pee bottles have been filling up all day!), and then the stem cells arrived just after lunch.

I’ve heard many people say that the stem cell transplant itself is a bit of an anti-climax, because it’s quite a simple, easy and quick process. But I found it all quite fascinating. I’ll post some photos if I can get a good enough internet connection (probably after I get home). The stem cells are received in little bags in a canister of liquid nitrogen. The nurse gets them out one at a time (using gloves) and places them in water at body temperature for 5 minutes to thaw them out. And then one by one the bags are connected to the Hickman line and infused by IV. I had six bags to get through, which I guess took about 2 hours.

It’s quite painless. You can actually see, apparently, the stem cells travelling down the line. They look like grains of sand. I had thought they’d be microscopic and invisible. Amazing really that they know where to go and what to do as soon as they get in the body! But then life is amazing!

Apparently, because of the preservative used in the harvesting process I will smell of sweetcorn for a few days!!

I know I said I may feel sick after the Melphalan yesterday, but I haven’t been too bad actually. I haven’t felt 100%, but I’ve managed to keep smiling, hold conversation and eat food.

And it’s been such a relief to be disconnected from the IV since this afternoon. The toilet trips are now less frequent. And after watching a DVD, playing on the PS3 that the boys left behind last night, writing this, and chatting on the phone with Heidi and Tom, I am hoping that tonight will be one where I sleep at least a little more than lately.

* To the Americans and Canadians reading – “Chips” = “French Fries”!