It has been confirmed my stem cell transplant has been arranged for July 9th.
Yesterday I was back at UCLH for a number of pre transplant tests and appointments. It started with me having my pic line redressed and flushed by the nurses in supportive care. This was followed up by a number of trips to nuclear medicine where I was given injections of radioactive material. I then had a cardiac scan and had to return for hourly blood tests to check my kidney functioning. I then had an appointment with a doctor in radiology who discharged me from their department following the successful radiotherapy treatment on the two masses on my spine. Last of all I had an appointment with my consultant and new specialist nurse whom confirmed the date for my transplant. I am not sure if I am expected to go into the Cotton Rooms the day before on the 8th July? The transplant starts with a large dose of strong chemo that hopefully kills off any left over cancerous cells but of course kills off many of your good cells as well. Whilst having this drug I will be given lots of ice lollies to enjoy aimed at trying to prevent mouth sores. I will then receive the stem cells that I harvested some time ago. They will be defrosted and returned to me in a side room in Ambulatory Care. This process, I believe, is pain free and takes about an hour, after which the staff sing Happy Birthday and I will then return to the NHS hotel. It is expected that I will start to feel pretty sick over the next few days and then be transferred to the hospital ward. My new stem cells need to engraph themselves into my bone marrow and apparently over the next 10 days or so I will become neutropenic. I will be nursed in an isolation room as I will be particularly vulnerable to infections, Colin will still be able to stay with me but visitors will be discouraged. I am expecting to have pretty nasty sickness and diarrhoea during this period of time but it won’t last forever and I will just need to stay strong and get through it. Once my blood results show signs of improving and I am able to eat and drink again I will be allowed home. Recovery is different for each patient but it will be anywhere between three and six months before I am back to normal again, whatever that is. The hope then is that I am in remission for a long time but there are no guarantees, it could be anything from one month to several years. It looks likely that I will be offered maintance therapy because my particular myeloma seems to respond well to treatment but has shown to return again pretty quickly. This may involve taking regular chemo medication probably in tablet form.
For now I have about 10 days to enjoy life at home and get myself as strong as possible before the transplant. I am still feeling pretty fatigued from the last lot of chemo but each day I find I can do a little bit more. We hope to get Frodo our lovely dog back today. He has been kindly looked after by Colin’s parents and will need to return there when I go in for the transplant, but we have missed him. It is good to know, however, that he is very happy in his adopted home.
Next week we hope to take Elliot to Woburn which I am really looking forward to. I will also be catching up with some old friends inbetween my compulsory afternoon naps. I may also treat myself to a trip to the spa and I have an appointment with my psychologist and the district nurses, so plenty to keep me busy.
I hope the weather remains good as it has been a joy to be able to sit out in the garden but I fear some rain is expected over the next few days.
Thank you all for our continuos support.