The Stem Cell Harvest v2

8am: So five days ago I started prepping for my stem cell harvest which is taking place today. It involved 4 days of G-CSF injections which stimulate the production of stem cells so that there are enough of them for today’s harvest.

I think I’ve been quite lucky. The pain hasn’t been too bad, helped I think by the fact I’m already on pregablin, a treatment which blocks pain by interfering with nerve signals. It also helps deal with anxiety so I’d imagine it’s been great in reducing issues. It’s not been totally problem free, and I have had throbbing pain in my back and the base of my skull at times….I can only liken it a bit to labour pains? But since I’ve put that to the back of my mind, I couldn’t even swear on that. Last night was the worst but perhaps there was a level of anxiety in there about today that made it worse? I ended up getting up at 5am and watching The Blacklist as I couldn’t get back to sleep.

It’s all been much better than what I remember last time, so fingers crossed this will continue throughout today. I’m now sat in the Apheresis ward where they have just taken my blood. They will do what is called a CD34 blood test which will check the predicted level of stem cells. I’ll have to wait for a couple of hours for the results of that, but they’re assuming that I’ll be ok given I only need half a million cells (To put that into some sort of perspective, first time round at the Marsden, I got 4 million cells. You generally need 2.5 million per transplant). We’re expecting it all to be fine to go ahead today given how few I need so hopefully that will be the case!

10.15am: Gutted. Just found out that my count is only 8 and that it really needs to be 25+ to be worth them putting me on the machine. So that means that I now have to go home and then come back this evening when they’ll give me a drug called Plerixofor. From what I understand this is a pretty expensive drug, but it is meant to quadruple the count so I should be ok to come back tomorrow. It does cause sickness and diarrhoea so I’ve got that to look forward, alongside more bone pain I imagine.

It gives us an added complication as Rebecca is going off on her DofE expedition tomorrow too (isolating on return we think!). Poor Nick will have to drop me here at the hospital at 8am again, and then drive down to Hereford. Bloody covid means that no-one can help us with this one either.

Oh well. Hopefully tomorrow they’ll get enough stem cells in one go and I won’t have to come back on Friday too.