Today we went to Rush Medical Center for my apharesis. I got comfortable on a hospital bed and made ready to sit there for the next two to three hours. They stuck IVs in both my arms and told me not to move them until the process was over. Blood was pumped out of my left arm, mixed with some anti-coagulant and sent into a centrifuge where the white blood cells were isolated and collected. The blood was then sent back into my right arm. This process isn’t painful but it is a tiring and you have to rely on someone else to scratch your nose.
After an hour and a half of this, my nurse gave me the news that the quantity of the specific type of cells they are collecting from me is in the normal range — but on the low side. This meant that instead of being done in another half hour, they calculated it would take a total of five hours and 20 minutes to get all they need. Yikes.
At any time during the procedure there was about a half a pint of blood out of my body. When it was finally done, all the blood in my body had been cycled out of me three times. They harvested about 300 milliliters of cells. I walked like a fawn for about 15 minutes afterwards but otherwise felt fine. That was my only shot at success. If the study sponsor doesn’t get enough of the specific cells they are looking for, then I’m kicked out of this trial.
I’d like to take a paragraph to express my love and appreciation to my wife, Tina. Not only did she sit there with me the entire time and scratch my nose. She did everything for me: fed me lunch, put headphones on me, put on music, adjusted my pillow, and when my bladder got too full to hold it anymore — yes, she did it all.
We are back in Atlanta now. Tomorrow I begin radiation and chemo.