Category: Duke

Hair Update

I thought I’d give a visual progress report of my hair growth.  Here’s a picture I took today.  You can compare it to one I took on October 13, 2007.

Hair growing back after stem cell transplant

Kind of weird, huh?  And, not too attractive. My hair started to fall out in September, after I had high dose chemo (melphalan) on August 28th. Some spots still look bald, even though there’s a covering of very fine, nearly invisible hair.

I had a follow up appointment at Duke today.  I won’t have any results until Wednesday afternoon.  Not anything important, anyway.  I didn’t even bother getting a copy of my CBCs. Dr. Long just told me they were completely normal. Throughout my entire MM experience, my CBC’s have hardly ever been anything but normal.

Hickman Catheter

Bard Hickman Catheter
Hickman double lumen catheter

This is a picture of the Hickman catheter that was installed in my chest for the stem cell collection and SCT during the summer. You can see a picture of the insertion site here.  I got the idea of taking a picture from Eric Vogt, who photographed his from tandem SCTs.

You can see a picture of the Neostar triple lumen catheter here. That’s what I had inserted at Wake Forest prior to chemo and stem cell collection.

Below is a diagram I found which depicts the insertion of the catheter. Click on the image to view full size.

Insertion of the Hickman catheter
Insertion of the Hickman catheter

Test results

I got the results of the tests done last week at Duke. The report states, “Compared to 8/3/07, no significant change in previously characterized IgA lambda components from 0.28 to 0.19 and 0.12 to 0.18 g/dL.” The PA let me know that it’s possible for the m-spike(s) to drop more in the next few months. One good thing is that my IgG is normal for the first time in five years (probably a few more). It was 223 in February, 2003, for example.

Immunoglobulin Profile
IgG 709 mg/dL Reference: 588-1573
IgA 374 mg/dL Reference: 46-287
IgM 29 mg/dL Reference: 57-237
IgE 12 mg/dL Reference: 4-269

One Month Check-up

Tomorrow I’ll have my one month check-up.  It will have been a month since I was released from the Duke SCT Clinic.  I feel pretty well, with no major complaints. I’m filling a jug for them, and will have blood drawn when I get there.  Aside from CBCs, it will probably be at least a few days before I get any results.

Home at last!

I made it home yesterday.  I’m SO glad to be here. I went straight to bed when I got home, and slept for what felt like forever.  I got up at 5:30 this morning, walked the dog and then went back to bed until 10:30.  It felt great to sleep in. It’s nice not to be on anyone else’s schedule.  I found myself feeling bored this afternoon, but that passed. :)

Thanks to everyone who made this easier for me.  You all know who you are. Thanks especially to Rachel and Monica.

More tomorrow!

Day +14

I’ve just been told I’m going home tomorrow! I feel as well now as I did when I came in here, so I can only imagine that things will get better and better as time goes by. Years of drugs and chemo take their toll. This procedure will give me the best possible chance of having some long drug-free time.

I do feel tired, but that’s because my HGB hasn’t returned to normal yet, and there was that high dose melphalan a couple of weeks ago. I’m sure it takes time just to get over that assault.

When I get home, I’m starting a new life. I’m going to take good care of myself and make it as difficult as possible for the myeloma to come back.

Oh!  I get this catheter out tomorrow!  That alone is worth some celebration.

Day +13

My WBC today was 7.0! My HGB dipped a little to 9.8, and the platelets are at 23. This chemo experience was a lot like Cytoxan, in terms of what it did to my counts, with the exception of the WBC, which got to 400 at its lowest.

Overall, the experience wasn’t as horrific as I imagined. I wouldn’t call it a vacation though. :)

I met someone here who had an allo transplant, which did not engraft. There was no match for her in the national registry. She had to use her son’s stem cells, which they said didn’t match. There were limited donors because she’s an African American. I wanted to find out if anyone has run a donor drive? I would like to try to help somehow.

Day +12

The only thing I have to report today is that my WBC is 4.7! Can you believe it? As soon as I get the rest of the results, I’ll post them. It was mentioned that I might get to go home earlier than predicted.

I forgot to mention that I had my head shaved on Saturday.  My hair started to fall out some, so my sister went ahead and gave me a buzz cut.  Since then, it’s been falling out like crazy.  I could be bald in a few days.