One more sleep to harvesting

Another roller coaster day today.  Very emotional, right up to typing this blog.
Last night and into this morning, Tony has been experiencing what he calls “throbbing pain” in his back.  He is mobile, but when he lies down, it hurts him.  He was back on the breakthrough medication every two hours to cope with the pain.  But today by late afternoon, it went away.

Our day started at 9am with blood work.  Tony walked to his clinic within the hospital.  No wheelchair today.  After an hour the results showed his hemoglobin was 74.  They ordered up two units of blood for a transfusion.  They also said he needed magnesium and his antibiotics.  The nurse would give his neupogen needle as well.  Around 1pm they were finally ready for him.  We had a seat by huge windows.  Very cold. So cold that I kept my coat on the entire time.  As soon as Tony was hooked up, he wanted a blanket because he felt the cold.  Understandable.  After 2 hours, he said he was chilled.  Started to shake a bit.  I got another blanket from the warmer.  Toasty warm.  Still shaking.  Getting worse actually. Just like when he got the shakes back in August.  I alerted the nurse and right away their response was he’s reacting to the blood.  Usually, if you’re going to react, it would be within 15-20 minutes.  We were at over 2 hours into receiving the donated blood.  They stopped all IV fluids.  Nurse practitioner ordered steroids to combat the reaction.  Tony’s breathing was ok.  Arm shaking so bad that they couldn’t get a read on his blood pressure. Oxygen was ok. No fever.  He was in a room with 6 patients receiving chemo.  All looking at us. Concerned. Reassuring me. The entire chair (recliner) was tremendously shaking.  The nurse asked if he could walk to a bed. “I don’t think so!!!”.  The chair was on wheels and 3 nurses quickly pushed him with all his attachments to a private room.  At this point, I began to panic.  Really, though thinking about it, he was in a very safe place, receiving very good care.  But, my thought process at this point was that I felt helpless and that harvesting his cells this week would be off the table……This has been his third shaking episode.  Twice now during blood transfusions.  The nurses had him covered in heated blankets from head to toe.  They wanted him to get a fever so the shakes would stop.  Warm blankets and steroids worked.  This episode lasted about 30 minutes.  By the time it ended, he was exhausted.  The nurses told him he would feel like he ran the marathon after this episode.  Very tired.  And sure enough, he closed his eyes and rested.
Meanwhile, I contacted the stem cell transplant coordinator to get some answers and reassurance.  He came through for us.  Harvesting is still on for Tuesday.  The count for collection must be around the 10 mark and he had 120.  Excellent!
Meanwhile, the nurses quickly had viles ready for cultures for testing.  They took one sample from his picc line (two ports) one from each line and a third sample from a needle in his other arm.  They need to find out the source of this.  I forgot to mention that this morning, both picc lines were not working properly.  One was completely clogged and the other had a very slow run.  This morning, they had difficulty flushing the lines. Before transfusion, they fixed it and got both working.  They are ruling out bacteria in the lines that may have caused the shakes and/or reaction to the blood.
Once all under control, Tony fell asleep while they reconnected the magnesium to the IV.  We left Princess Margaret Hospital at 6:45pm…..Long Day!
Update on my mom:
My drive home was a phone call with bad news.  She has cancer.  84 years old.    After days of testing and poking, they still don’t know the source of the cancer, but it doesn’t look good :(

One day at a time……