Good news today: A bountiful harvest

My wToday was a day to make any farmer happy – or someone having stem cells harvested for an autologous stem cell transplant – that’s me.


Blood being drawn from my left arm – 4.5 hour procedure.

I pledged I was going to be more open in my blogging this time and probably more descriptive. (Warning – photos included.) That said the following disclosure is more emotional than physical. I was not happy yesterday – for some inexplicable reason – about having to get a second drug for cell creation. Now that makes no sense but I was upset about having one more chemical put in my body. I got back to where I’m staying and read about the drug and drifted off to the endless pages of how things can go wrong. I wasn’t in a good place.

Today my stem cell harvest could not have gone better. Yesterday my stem cell count, based on a blood draw, was 14 and 15 is sort of the bottom line. A low number would have also meant a two-day draw instead of just one. My white cell count had elevated to 29,000 – not what they wanted. Therefore, I got the Moxopil along with Neupogen. This morning my white cell number was 78! So, instead of collecting an ideal 5 million cells they collected 5.6 million cells.

Dr. Akard, whom I saw early in the morning harvest, explained the higher the number of cells the better for my recovery. It minimizes or eliminates some risks.


My right arm where the blood was returned.

Briefly, a stem cell harvest involves a needle in each arm – or as I called it, an innie and and an outie. The blood goes into a centrifuge separating the plasma, platelets, white cells, from the remainder of the blood. They’re only harvesting the white cells with the bulk of those being immature cells that will grow when returned to my body.

The most difficult part of today’s procedure was lying still in a bed for 4.5 hours – and not moving the left arm placed in a fairly uncomfortable position. (See top photo). Calicium. a coalagulator, and saline are also added to the innie drip to reduce issues with the harvest and to leave me with plenty of fluid.

Bottom line today is I’m off the booster drugs,  all those extra cells are out of me and I feel much better. I get to return home tomorrow morning for a few days before the really tough stuff begins. Monday I start a week of intense chemo therapy. The cells collected today are returned to my body after that and then the recovery begins – which will last several weeks.

The day the cells are returned and the 10 or so days that follow are extremely critical. That is when I’m most at risk for infection or complications. Those threats don’t go away for several weeks but they peak during that time period.

I probably won’t post again until next Monday. I probably won’t write every day but close to it.

I should add here – thanks to all I’ve heard from with their good wishes. And thank you, God Bless You – beyond my words – to my best friend Kathy who is my caregiver, cab driver, housekeeper, and home nurse throughout this process. It’s hard for me to be speechless – hold the comments – but her dedication is remarkable.

About Howard

After most of my career in the newspaper business I joined higher education, working in Public Affairs. I write mostly about value wine. I have now taken early retirement and work part-time in a small boutique, retail wine shop in Indianapolis
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