Friday, November 15, 2013

The Transplant!

Nov 11

We met with Dr. Gertz who continues to be very optimistic about Buddy breezing through the whole process.  While on average, 80% of transplant patients are admitted in the hospital for one reason or another, he estimates that Bud has a 1:3 chance of getting admitted given his age (Bud is 45, most are at least 10 yrs older), creatinine (Bud's is normal at 1.2) and stage of disease (Bud's myeloma is in remission and the amyloid in the bone marrow measured by NT-proBNP has gone down from 80% to 5%).  Not counting last week, of course.

To celebrate, we decided to have steak and lobster the night before he started chemo...after a bit of shopping, even;)

Nov. 12 (Day -2) and Nov. 13 (Day -1)

Chemo "conditioning" days.  These two days, I was infused with Melphalan, a major dose of Chemotherapy aimed at wiping out any residual cancer cells in my system.  The side-effect is that it also wipes out the red and white blood cells in your body at the same time.  This is why they took out my stem cells last week, so that after the chemo conditioning, the stem cells can be re-introduced into my body and regrow new and healthy red and white blood cells. 

The Melphalan infusions took about an hour each.  During that time, I would eat popsicles, lots of them.  10 popsicles in an hour.  

10 popsicles on Day-2!

Reason being, when you freeze your mouth the chemo has less of an effect of creating mouth sores later on.  Kind of a cool way to avoid mouth sores but you get a major sugar high. 

Day-1 Popsicles!
Also my Day -2 forward, I have to wear the "Darth Vader" mask.  I can't be exposed to any germs as my immunity is really low.  The 3M N95 which filters out 95% of particulates in the air.  If you ever have to wear one of these, make sure of one thing.  Brush your teeth before wearing it! 

"Luke, I am your father."

Nov. 14, 2013 (Day 0)

The nurses and physicians all wished me "Happy Birthday" today.  It's my "new" birthday as all of my stem cells have now been re-infused into my body.  We started at 530am.  Blood tests were initiated and then they started me on the preliminary procedures such as infusion of Sodium Bicarbonate.  For the stem cells, the original plan was to have them come through my central catheter.  Unfortunately, as it was leaking last week, it was taken out.  So, the stem cells had to come through a "high bore IV needle".  If you hear a nurse say "high bore", don't look.  Of course I did and it's not a skinny needle. 

After 3 hours of preparation, they started infusing my stem cells (harvested last week).  5 bags of my stem cells, linked by IV through the high bore needle.  It took about an hour and a half and they all went in with no issues.  Wow, after 7 months of treatments, recovery, planning, harvesting and chemo conditioning.  In 1 1/2 hours, my stem cells are now back in, with the objective to restart my whole immune system. 

3.7 million stem cells in these 5 bags!
My doctors are very optimistic that this will result in a full remission.  It won't be easy though.  Over the next few days, I'm going to feel weaker as my red and white blood cell counts will go to near zero.  If anyone is even remotely sick, you need to stay away from me!  

Then, after 7-10 days, my stem cells will "engraft", meaning I start to produce red and white blood cells  again and my  counts start going up.  They will send me home as soon as my Neutrophil counts are at 500 for 3 consecutive days.

I now need to focus on staying active, eating well (think of food as medicine) and keeping my spirits up.   I feel so blessed to have had an opportunity to have my 2nd birthday (it's the day before my mom's b-day so it's easy to remember).  Thank you all for your continued prayers and your support!

Buddy and Ria


  1. praying for your full recovery, buddy!


  2. Happy birthday Buddy! Am so happy everything went well. God bless you always always!! -pot

  3. A new day to celebrate! Happy birthday!

    Butch & Dinah

  4. love your smiles, faith and hope! xo the p-g family

  5. Happy Birthday Kid Bro!!! Yipee! We are now both Scopions!!! ;) My love and prayers ALWAYS!!!
    You ROCK Buds!!! Big Big Hugs

  6. Happy Birthday bro! Stay well! Love from Anna, Rafa, Roni, and James

  7. And I just wanted to comment for fun. Love Bianci/Bianx Mojica