What happens after an autologous stem cell transplant? You get really tired and you have to be really, really careful about germs.
My recovery has been going pretty well the past few weeks. I decided to give myself a long break to recover – one of the reasons I haven’t updated my blog in awhile. I’ve spent a lot of time at home or close to home and we largely avoided the holidays. It would have been difficult to participate in the holiday spirit when I couldn’t go to shopping malls or be around large groups of strangers, Jen was working and I have to take a nap in the middle of every day. So we gave ourselves a much needed break. No presents. No cards. No running around.
A couple of weeks ago I had to be admitted to the hospital with fevers and chills. I’ve never experienced anything like it before – I was shaking so bad I thought my teeth were going to break. It was pretty scary while it was happening but the doctors and nurses were comforting when they told us that they see this type of thing a lot with stem cell patients. It wasn’t unusual for a patient to get fevers and have to spend a few days in the hospital under observation. They really did spring into action. And, although it sucked miserably to have to spend another week in the hospital, we did figure out that I had a blood infection and I got IV antibiotics and it all turned out okay.
I also had to get my PICC line removed for a couple of days. When my old friend Dr. Loh (my interventional radiologist) put a new PICC line in, the 10 minute procedure ended up taking an hour and a half. My tumor, stent and the wear and tear on my blood vessels makes dealing with the veins in my chest anything but simple. The whole experience was a solid reminder that I’m still pretty fragile and I have to continue to play it safe for the next couple of months.
My blood counts are still low, but stable. My hair is starting to come back in and I even have a 14 year old style moustache that I have to shave every couple of days. And I’m impressed with the rapid growth of my eyebrows.
During all of this, Jen and I have managed to get a few things done. I finished my graduate course and get an A on my final paper. Jen and I did some redecorating around the apartment. I’m in the finals in my fantasy football league. We sneaked away for a couple of nights to the Santa Barbara area for some quiet time. And Jen has embraced home cooking much to the benefit of my tummy and my taste buds.
All in all, its been going well.
Before I sign off, there are some other links that are important to share.
For women with cancer, there is a service that provides housecleaning and maid services. Definitely a good resource to take some of the load off and give yourself a break while going through treatment. Along with meals, this is exactly the kind of thing that really helps out cancer patients: http://www.cleaningforareason.org/
Also, progress is constantly being made to improve the chances of lymphoma patients. This article describes how a new vaccine can extend disease-free survival for non-Hodgkins patients (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101206161742.htm).
And this article is about the development of a new drug that has shown 34 percent remission rates for Hodgkin’s patients (http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6B40WG20101205). This is the new SGN35 drug that seems to be doing wonders for my dear Hodgkin’s buddy Karin.
That’s all for now. Thanks for the platelets, holiday cards, love and support. And here’s to a healthy and happy 2011.