Troops are amassing at the border

I have completed five of six straight days of chemotherapy treatment as of this morning (Sat.) with one to go today. I’ve been pretty accurate in describing what was to happen through this tear-down and build up process,  but getting a better idea in last couple days.

The toughest drugs came Monday (and it was) and today. In between I had chemo twice a day. I got through that with a few ups and downs but mainly a lot of fatigue and nausea yesterday. It seems like I spent every waking moment not in those two appointments – about 2 mi. away – sleeping in a lazy boy chair.



There is a no photos sign in lobby – but I snapped this mug of Akard off a marketing poster!

My hemotologist/transplant physician spent a good amount of time with me yesterday explaining the next few days. It was very helpful. I get what I’m calling a trigger drug today. Enough to know, is that I get about two hours of liquid – including Benedryl to prevent reaction before additional fluid to push this Melphalan through me. I receive the drug while sipping on ice chips or popsicles.


Dr Akard explain that this sort of brings everything together. Sunday should be relatively calm and I may get a day without a visit to the clinic. I’d go back Monday morning to have my 5.6 million frozen stem cells returned to my body. Akard explains its not unusual for my while cells to rally and actually go up for a day or two. But  then the crash happens! Or, if you’ve been reading – I get hit three times by that Mack truck. During this time I’ll also again be getting Neupogen to boost white cell production – same as I did prior to white cell harvest.

My white cells will drop below 1,000 leaving me extremely vulnerable to infection, cuts, all sorts of things that are usually non-life threatening. I have to take care and jump at the eariest sign of a fever or anything irregular.

That all means trying to eat and drink while the most sick of the entire experience. diarreha, vomiting, and mouth sources can be quite common. Fun, Huh? I will be wearing masks and taking every precaution.

It takes about 7-8 days for white cell production to really begin. During these tough 7-8 days I’ll still visit clinic daily. They’ll be checking liver, kidneys, blood counts and everything to maintain my proper health. I could be getting transfusions, or infusions of things like potassium, and more. If I am to be hospitalized, it would most likely be during the next week.

Once cells start to grow the process can accelerate. I get through the dangerous state the clinic will only see me 2-3 days a week. When my platelettes reach 50k, I’ll be permitted to drive again.  That means I could return to my home and make just weekly visits for awhile. That’s a big goal.

I keep trying to find the words to thank my friend Kathy who has played taxi driver, host, caregiver and friend. It’s a remarkable act of kindness – especially after having me snore in her living room most of yesterday.

But I also have to again say thanks to the people I’m hearing from with words of positive thoughts and prayers. Prayer is most welcome. I learned I was on some church group’s prayer lists in 2015 and I didn’t even know it until after the fact. That’s very touching and appreciated.

My rather infamous hardheadness, the support of my friends, God’s will, and your prayers make for a powerful team. The kindness of my co-workers at Purdue University should be mentioned as well.

This gives me a shot at or near 100 percent remission. It’s a chance worth taking. I’m not sure I could/would do chemo again.


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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