Trials and tribulations of a patient in search of a bone marrow transplant

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Back to Hospital

Yesterday, just before going to Dallas for a doctor's appointment, the doctor called to say Steve should come prepared to go back into the hospital. The lab reports on the last bone marrow biopsy showed the leukemia was returning very aggresively and the doctor felt Steve couldn't wait until the transplant mid April without further treatment or the leukemia would be out of control.

Needless to say, Steve wasn't terribly excited to be going back in but didn't really have a choice. They finally found him a room last night in the Transplant Hospital in the Collins Building (much confusion on that score) and he checked in.

They immediately gave him several units of blood and started the new chemotherapy this morning at 8AM. Eleven litres over 36 hours of the first drug (that sounds like a lot of fluid), then they will switch to another one. The first one can cause a blood pressure drop, so they will monitor him closely. The second is very hard on the bladder, so they will flush him with fluids during that. Sounds like he will be running for the bathroom quite frequently day and night which doesn't allow for much rest. They haven't used either of these drugs on Steven yet. Since the leukemia builds up resistance to the chemo drugs, they keep switching them around. They need to have the leukemia cells as close to zero as possible before the transplant.

The Transplant Hospital is the only floor of patient beds in the Collins Building (4th floor) and is just under the floor of the doctors' offices, so the doctors can access it quickly. It is an older facility than where he has been in the Roberts Building. Room is smaller, tiny window with no view (unless you could count a gravel roof a view). Decor is a battered Pepto Bismal pink with still another floral border (Steve has had it with floral borders, in fact we think the decorators who design these rooms should be sued for annoyingly bad taste). But the nurse to patient ratio is 1/2 and everyone has been very kind and helpful. There is a well-stocked patient kitchen where Steve will not be allowed to go since because of the MRSA and VRE infections he has gotten in the hospitals, he is treated as a pariah, or isolation patient. He can't avail himself of the facilities offered since they are concerned he could spread these infections. Which means he is pretty much confined to his room except for perhaps walking in the halls with a mask.

Steve may have visitors. The number is limited because of the size of the room. And they ask that if anyone has been sick in any way, they wait several days after they are recovered before coming. Steve is still neutropenic, actually his system has never recovered since the very first chemo, so high precautions are in order. Because of his extremely low platelets, they took away his razor and his fingernail clippers, and were quite horrified to hear he had been using them all along. So he may have a full beard when you see him, at least until we can get an electric shaver in to him, and a nail file is in order.

Steve tried to take full advantage of his last few hours of liberty, walking around in the hospital complex and breathing a bit of fresh air. His almost three weeks of freedom after so many months in the hospital were all too brief.

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Blogger socks and said...

Found it! I'll be praying for everything to go well this week so that the transplant can proceed soonest. Hugs to you all, Angela's friend Alice

March 26, 2008 at 4:24 PM


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