Monday, November 12, 2007

Mayo! May-hay-hay-o!

Daylight come and me wan go home!

Actually, daylight came and I reported for my tests. The first was a blood draw -- the Mother of All Blood Draws. The lab tech took (dramatic pause) TWENTY-THREE VIALS OF BLOOD OUT OF MY ARM.

Yes. Twenty-three. I'm not making this up.

Even the tech seemed a little shocked, although he did tell me that his record was 28 vials. Part of me secretly wished I could have broken the record. Maybe next time.

After that, I staggered over to the Gonda Building for my bone-marrow biopsy. This sounds like a really scary procedure, and, depending on who does it to you, it really can be. The way they do it at Mayo is great, though. I was completely sedated with very pleasant drugs, so I didn't feel a thing. They gave me cookies and a Diet Coke afterward. The actual procedure took less than 15 minutes. I have a giant band-aid, and my hip's a little sore, but it wasn't that bad.

Next, I had x-rays of every bone in my body, which is always a really long, boring test. At least I got to wear the little foam slippers with happy faces on them.

In the afternoon, Jay and I met with a nurse who works in the stem-cell collection department. Her first task was to look at the veins in my arms to see if the cells could be harvested via my arms instead of through a central line, which has to be implanted surgically. I didn't even know the arm thing was a possibility, so I got a little bit hopeful, even though the techs at the KC Cancer Center complain endlessly about my teeny, hidden veins. Sure enough, the nurse took one look at my arms and said, "Yeah, you're gonna need a line." Dang. Couldn't she tell that these powerful veins can spit out 23 vials of blood? Anyway, the line will be put in by a surgeon, probably on Friday. It sounds like I'll get the same kind of drugs I got for the biopsy, though. Yay, drugs!

Then we got a tour of the area where the harvest will take place. I'll be confined to a hospital-type bed and hooked up to a machine for five hours a day, usually 7 a.m. to noon. I won't be able to get up at all. "Let us know if you have to go to the bathroom," said the nurse, "and we'll bring a commode to you." Oh, good. They do have free snacks, though.

My last test of the day was an EKG. Very fast and easy.

Tomorrow is a day off: I have NOTHING except Pee Pod Dropoff. Wednesday is a bunch of meetings/consultations with the transplant nurses, Dr. H, and the surgeon who will implant my line. After that, I start injections to stimulate the stem cells. If all goes well, collection starts on Monday.

What am I going to do with my day off? I'm not sure. I've already been to Barnes and Noble twice.


Anonymous said...

Your story sounds so familiar to mine last year at this time - young mom with kids at home trying to understand how myeloma hit our home. My transplants were done at the City of Hope in Southern California and all went well. Collection only took 2 days - but it was COLD so dress warm!!! Good luck...

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen,
I've been reading your blog, which is so well written and full of humor! I want to wish you good luck. You are brave.
Ana, Italy.

Abigail said...

Enjoy your day off! 23 vials - was it at least an attractive vampire?

Anonymous said...


I would like to start off by saying thank you for your dedication to your blog. I am 29 years old and was diagnosed with Myeloma on October 19. My world was turned upside down two days before my son's first birthday. I am being treated at UPMC in Pittsburgh and it sounds like I will be going through a very similar procedure as you are going through now. I am on Thalidamide and Dex and they expect to do my first transplant in two months. I hope everything goes well with your harvesting!

Anonymous said...

You look for a little positive in everything! Keep it up!

Karen's sister said...

Central line? Can you explain? I didn't know there would be "surgically" implanted things involved. All I know about central lines comes from episodes of "ER."

I have the same vein problem, so I feel for you. When I went in to have blood drawn for the Mayo study, the guy drawing blood was a VERY young trainee-lab tech. There was a veteran lab tech watching him, but I was a little worried. He was careful and did a fantastic job, but I had to warn him about my bitty, bitty veins. And he could hardly fill the one vial, much less 23! You've always been the overachiever in the family.