Saturday, August 14, 2010

Shots, Medication and Stem Cell Harvest

Last Monday I began giving Ernie 3 Neupogen shots in his abdomen every morning to stimulate stem cell production in preparation for harvest. Stem cells are the immature cells in your blood and bone marrow that grow to make white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. I never dreamed in a million years I'd be doing anything even remotely close to this, but somehow you find yourself just doing what needs to be done. Thank goodness he has a high threshold of pain and is a very patient patient! Anyway, what continues to amaze me about cancer, is the cost of all the medication. As you can see by the picture below, these 30 shots cost $9,631.48...yes, you read that correctly! All I can say is, thank you Lord for insurance and co-pays that we can afford.

Giving these 3 shots costs about $963 a day!

Gloves, masks, dressing changes and other medications are also part of the daily routine. We mark the tops of the bottles and use an AM/PM pill organizer, as well as a daily medication chart to help keep track of things. Without the help of these aids, it would all begin to run together and neither of us would remember who took what when...especially in the middle of the night!

On Monday the 16th we will head to Duke by 8:00am for lab work to check blood counts, chemistries, and stem cells. If Ernie's white blood count (WBC) is greater than 3000, the stem cell harvest process (aphresis) will begin. IV tubes will be attached to Ernie's central catheter line for six hours and blood will run through the machine you see pictured here. It miraculously spins and separates the blood so the stem cells can be collected into a bag that hangs above the machine, and frozen until the time of infusion. His blood is warmed to body temperature and returned to him continually. He will be laying down during this process and it isn't painful like it used to be when cells had to be taken directly from the marrow. Whoever invented this machine was one smart dude!

Stem cell transplant is the process we have been praying for since the day Ernie was diagnosed, as it leads to greater remission levels and a much more positive long term prognosis. We can hardly believe we are actually in the middle of it some 8 months later and we praise the Lord for the answered prayers that lead us here! We covet your prayers in this next week, that:

1. Ernie's lab work will show he is ready to begin the process.
2. They will be able to harvest 8 million healthy cells in 2 days rather than 3.
3. Ernie will be able to be comfortable in the bed for 6 hours at a time.
4. Ernie's temperature would not rise above 100.5 during this process, indicating infection.

Once again, thank you for walking with us through our blog. Your words of encouragement and knowing you are praying for us, certainly help to carry us through the difficult days.

Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. Psalm 37:5

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Lord, for technology, medical advances, treatments for MM, and insurance:) Not to mention, a wonderful caregiver for Dad!