Jeremiah Ray - Harvesting


i spent a total of five days in the hospital. during this time i was receiving a continuous flow of IV antibiotics in an attempt to nip whatever was lurking in the bud so as to stay on track with MGH/stem cell harvesting & eventual transplant. 

on Wednesday afternoon, while still hospitalized in Maine, the oncologist, whose care i’m currently in at MGH, called me. at this point it seemed obvious that my fever was a result of neutropenia as well as from the filgrastim injections. the blood drawn for cultures on Saturday, after arriving in the ER, hadn’t, after 48 hours, indicated a blood borne infection.   

the oncologist at MGH was convincing & practically demanded that i get discharged, drive down to Boston that afternoon/evening and make the 07:00 stem cell collection already on the books for the following day (Thursday, June 8). to me this sounded reckless. i didn’t want to be in the hospital longer than needed, but i also was fearful of the big, germ-filled world waiting to sneeze on me and send me back to the ER. my fear was that, should this happen, should my fever spike force me to the hospital for another 5 days, or more, this would further delay the actual transplant. (something that has been delayed already due to cancer related issues!) his fear was a different side of postponement & delay – that the small window of opportunity after the nadir (which refers to the lowest point that an individual’s blood cell count will reach as a side effect of chemotherapy) & the peak reached due to the body’s natural response and as a result of the injections, would close on us. he was worried that if i didn’t make it Thursday to collect and thus left only Friday, we were taking a massive gamble as most people need at least two days to collect all the stem cells they will need for a transplant. if i were to wait until Friday and NOT gather all the cells, we’d have to finish up on Monday and just hope the injections were still assisting in generating the needed stem cells. it’s not only the shots that are assisting in this generation of cells! the whole reason for undergoing the monstrous round of chemo/etoposide was to send the body (after nadir) into white blood cell count overdrive! add daily shots to the mix to assist this and boom – massive (daily, maybe hourly?) jumps in cell counts. 

so what did i do? i got discharged (June 7) and made the trip to Boston. the following morning, June, 8 at 07:00, i walked over to mass general hospital for collection. 

process took several hours. my my tunneled pheresis line/catheter worked perfectly and although it is sometimes awkward i am glad i opted for it – especially for such a lengthy procedure. 

when i was finally free i took a much needed stroll around the area to get fresh air and sunlight. i was awaiting a call from the nurse practitioner tell me whether or not the collection was successful or if i needed to return the next day to finish up. evidently the plan worked and, though one day behind schedule, they managed to gather all the cells needed in one go! actually, they managed to gather almost twice as many as they needed… but who’s counting, right? 

Jeremiah Ray
TCAF Ambassador

Cross-posted with permission from Cyclical.Life